Jurors reach partial verdict in mob trial

Posted: January 19, 2014

PHILADELPHIA Another impasse. Another illness.

Such was the seventh day of deliberations in the federal racketeering retrial of reputed Philadelphia mob boss Joseph Ligambi and his nephew George Borgesi.

Just before 10:30 a.m. Friday, jurors sent U.S. District Judge Eduardo Robreno a note indicating that they had reached unanimity on two of the five counts against the mob figures. They didn't say which ones.

As for the other three, there remained "a firm difference of opinion," they said.

Robreno sent the panel of 11 women and nine men back to break their deadlock - until one juror fell ill, prompting an early end to the court day.

It was a routine that had begun to feel all too familiar for the various lawyers, federal agents, and Ligambi family members who have set up camp outside Robreno's 15th-floor courtroom since deliberations began last week.

On Monday, the jurors reported their first impasse, saying they were stuck on all counts. Robreno told them to try harder. And illness halted deliberations last Friday, too. A juror said his sick cat prevented him from coming to court.

That's not to mention the 21 days this same group of court watchers spent in the same hallway last year waiting for the same verdicts from a different jury. That first trial ended with jurors hopelessly deadlocked on most of the counts Ligambi and Borgesi faced, prompting the current retrial.

Prosecutors hoped this time they had done enough to prove their allegations that Ligambi, 74, and Borgesi, 50, oversaw a crime family engaged in profitable illegal gambling and loan-sharking operations.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Frank Labor, at least, saw signs of headway in Friday's logjam.

"They're making progress," he said. "Monday, they thought they were done. Now we've had three days, and they have a verdict on three counts."

Manny Borgesi - Ligambi's sister, George's mother - maintained her constant vigil in a small conference room she has christened her "chapel."

Her brother Phil Ligambi spent the day pacing the same strip of linoleum over and over again.

"I'm breaking-in my shoes," he said.

Whether jurors had any luck breaking their logjam remained anyone's guess.

For the first time, several jurors appeared worn out when Robreno called them in to dismiss them for a long weekend just before 3:30 p.m. They are expected to resume their debate Tuesday.


jroebuck@phillynews.com

215-925-2649

@jeremyrroebuck

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