Mobster Borgesi lashes out at feds

WILLIAM BENDER / DAILY NEWS STAFF George Borgesi's mother, Manny, believes the federal government has a "vendetta" against her family, and said her son is "not the same guy as when he went into the system" in the early 2000s.
WILLIAM BENDER / DAILY NEWS STAFF George Borgesi's mother, Manny, believes the federal government has a "vendetta" against her family, and said her son is "not the same guy as when he went into the system" in the early 2000s.
Posted: November 01, 2013

GEORGE BORGESI was 36 when he was indicted on racketeering charges in 2000. The hotheaded mobster was convicted the following year and spent his 40s in federal lockups in West Virginia and North Carolina.

Borgesi, now 50, completed that prison sentence in 2011 but hasn't gotten out yet, and the feds keep extending their invitation for him to stay even longer, say, into his 60s.

They won't take no for an answer.

"He's not the same guy as when he went into the system. It breaks my heart," said Borgesi's mother, Manny. "It's a vendetta."

It's starting to seem like the U.S. government won't ever set Borgesi free, and that's turning "Georgie Boy" into an angry man. His hair is thin, his temper is short, and he's definitely not mellowing with age. Earlier this year, he called an assistant U.S. attorney a "f---in' punk" to his face when they crossed paths in a courtroom.

Borgesi, described by the feds as a onetime mob consigliere, or high-ranking adviser to the boss, has remained in federal custody for more than two years as a result of a 2011 racketeering indictment that blocked his release on the 2001 conviction.

In February, a jury found him not guilty of 13 counts related to loan-sharking he allegedly directed from prison, but deadlocked on the indictment's main racketeering-conspiracy count. The Federal Bureau of Prisons and U.S. Pretrial Services Office recommended that he be released on bail, according to his attorney at the time. His family figured he'd be coming home.

Wrong.

Instead, Borgesi, the nephew of reputed mob boss Joseph "Uncle Joe" Ligambi, has been held without bail while awaiting a retrial that is scheduled to begin next week.

He's furious. During a phone call with his brother this week, Borgesi lashed out at the FBI agents, prosecutors, judge and paid government informants who he says are hell-bent on making his life miserable. There were probably more expletives used than printable words.

"It's disgusting. It's a joke," Anthony Borgesi said into his car's speakerphone with a Daily News reporter present.

"It is a joke, but I'm still sitting here," George Borgesi replied from the federal detention center at 7th and Arch streets.

Borgesi has been penning lengthy screeds from his cell, alleging that the government has harassed his friends and family while paying large sums of money to criminals who testify against him. Even ex-boss Joseph "Skinny Joey" Merlino was released from prison in 2011 and is soaking up the rays in Florida.

"Joey got out years ago. People come up to me in the city and they can't understand why my brother's not out. He couldn't even get bail," Anthony Borgesi said. "It boggles the mind how the government can get away with this."

In an interview this week, Manny and Anthony Borgesi accused the government of violating George Borgesi's civil rights. They say he has been thrown in solitary confinement and denied medical treatment as the feds seek to prove that he remained active in mob activities from prison. He developed Bell's palsy after the last trial, they said.

"We want people to see what they're doing to my brother. They're playing dirty," said Anthony Borgesi, adding that if George Borgesi were a black prisoner, the country wouldn't stand for it. "Where's our Al Sharpton?"

The Borgesi family says that FBI agents have lied during the investigation, have bragged that U.S. District Judge Eduardo Robreno is "our judge" and have taunted Borgesi by saying, for example, that he will never be able to consummate his marriage.

"Enough is enough now," Anthony Borgesi said. "There is no justice."

David Fritchey, chief of the Organized Crime Strike Force in the U.S. Attorney's Office, declined to comment on Borgesi's grievances. "It's hardly uncommon," Fritchey said of his complaints. "I'm sure Jerry Sandusky is not happy about being in prison, either."

In a recent 20-page letter, Borgesi wrote that the FBI has used mob-like tactics to gather evidence, intimidating his friends and family with aggressive surveillance and subpoenas, and threatening innocent people with business troubles if they don't cooperate with the investigation.

"They scare almost everybody into saying anything. People do not know that. You go to a business and tell somebody they will develop tax, liquor, or any kind of problem if they don't cooperate, and then scare them," Borgesi wrote. "We do it, anything close to that, it is extortion, witness tampering, obstruction of justice. They threaten people with jail or ruin their livelihoods, but because of that badge, they think they are above everything and everybody."

Next week's retrial of Borgesi and Ligambi, 74, could last until Christmas. Prosecutors will use much of the same evidence from the last 16-week mob trial, including secretly recorded conversations and mob rats with plenty of their own baggage.

The jury, for instance, is expected to hear from Pete "The Crumb" Caprio, an 84-year-old admitted murderer who had collected nearly $400,000 in taxpayer funds as of January for his ongoing cooperation. And former mob associate Louis "Bent Finger Lou" Monacello, an egomaniacal blowhard who is rumored to have had a penchant for drinking out of a jewel-encrusted chalice.

Monacello, 46, has admitted to splitting a man's head open with a baseball bat and was caught on tape offering money to have another mobster beaten. Sources say the government paid him $25,000 this year to relocate, in addition to other payments. Monacello, who could not be reached for comment, is now a regional director at ACN Inc., a multilevel marketing company, like Amway.

"As an ACN Independent Business Owner, I have the opportunity to have my own home-based business offering the services people need and use every day," reads Monacello's pitch on his website. "In fact, I'm able to offer my friends and family more choices, at a greater value, on the products and services they simply can't live without."

(Asked how Monacello got his moniker, Anthony Borgesi said: "The real story is he cut the tendon in his finger opening a bottle.")

A new witness this time around is Anthony Aponick, a former New York mobster and serial bank robber who served prison time with Borgesi in Beckley, W.Va., about 10 years ago. Sources say Aponick, who was arrested again in August for allegedly throwing his wife out of a moving vehicle, has collected more than $130,000 in taxpayer funds since 2010. Zane Memeger, now the U.S. attorney in Philadelphia, traveled to New York City in 2003 to ask a federal judge to reduce his sentence on an armed-robbery conviction, sources said.

"They are the real criminals," Manny Borgesi said of Monacello, Aponick and other government witnesses. "They are given carte blanche to do whatever they want as long as they continue to lie."

In his jailhouse letter, George Borgesi wrote that Aponick is a heroin addict who repeatedly tried to recruit him to participate in crimes as part of a government setup. "Shows you how desperate they are," he wrote.

Borgesi's attorney, Christopher Warren, declined to comment yesterday, other than to say that Borgesi denies the allegations.

Next week, prosecutors will attempt to convince a jury that Borgesi continued to participate in a mob-racketeering conspiracy while in prison. Robreno has ruled that prosecutors will not have to prove that Borgesi or Ligambi personally committed the underlying crimes.

"You can direct it, or profit from it, or just want it to succeed," said Fritchey, speaking of the racketeering-conspiracy law in general, not of the mob case.

"It's the same principal as if Chip Kelly doesn't go out on the field and run plays, but he wants the Eagles to succeed," Fritchey said of the coach. "He never steps on the field. You don't have to personally throw any passes or block anybody. All you have to do is join. You can sit on the bench."


On Twitter: @wbender99

Blog: ph.ly/DailyDelco

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