Partial verdict reached in mob racketeering retrial

Posted: January 19, 2014

IT SEEMED that yesterday would be the end to the racketeering retrial of reputed Philly mob boss Joseph Ligambi and his nephew George Borgesi.

Jurors were working diligently, and the long Martin Luther King Jr. holiday weekend was approaching.

But then word filtered into the courtroom hallway about 11 a.m. that the panel of 11 women and one man were unanimous on two counts, hung on the rest.

Relatives of Ligambi, 74, and onetime Philly mob consigliere Borgesi, 50, seemed nervous while waiting in the courtroom.

When the jurors emerged, some looked serious, some clutched notebooks with brightly colored sticky notes protruding. One woman smiled.

U.S. District Judge Eduardo Robreno read the jurors' note: "We have a unanimous verdict for two of the five counts. Jurors have a firm difference of opinion on the remaining three. This outcome reflects our final vote."

Well, it was not the final vote.

Before the panel had come out, the judge and attorneys discussed how the judge should instruct the jury - whether to accept a partial verdict or to tell the panel to continue deliberating.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Frank Labor urged the judge to order them to continue deliberations. He noted that on Monday, the jury had declared in an earlier note that after voting "at least twice on all counts," they "are at an impasse." The note said that "there was no unanimity on any of the counts."

"They're making progress," Labor told the judge yesterday.

The two counts on which the panel reached verdicts were not announced in court. The judge sent the jurors back to deliberate. "Do not hesitate to examine your own views," he told them.

He noted that they had heard from about 40 prosecution and defense witnesses during the trial, which began Nov. 7.

Yesterday was the jury's seventh day of deliberations.

The panel continued working, but about 3 p.m., word filtered out again in the courtroom hallway. This time, one juror apparently was sick.

In court, the judge simply told the jurors they could go home and reminded the panel not to read or listen to anything in the media about the case.

Deliberations will continue Tuesday.

Ligambi and Borgesi each face a count of racketeering conspiracy. Ligambi also faces three other counts - operating an illegal gambling business, conspiracy to conduct an illegal gambling business and witness tampering in relation to a wedding photographer.

The 17 family members or friends of the defendants who were in court yesterday afternoon smiled at Ligambi and Borgesi, who appeared to be taking everything in stride. "I'll see ya's later," a smiling "Uncle Joe," dressed in a black suit and blue collared shirt, told his family.

On Twitter: @julieshawphilly

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