Jury acquits on two counts, deadlocks on three in mob racketeering retrial

Posted: January 27, 2014

GEORGE BORGESI, the Philly mob's onetime reputed consigliere, walked out of the federal courthouse with his wife, Alyson, yesterday afternoon - the first time he's been free in about 14 years.

After a jury acquitted him yesterday of racketeering conspiracy - the lone charge he faced in a retrial with his uncle, Joseph Ligambi - Borgesi, 50, dressed in a blue sweater and gray slacks, smiled, rocking in his chair at the defense table.

His mother, Manny Borgesi, cried upon hearing the jury forewoman's announcement of the not-guilty verdict. His brother, Anthony, who lunged forward with excitement from his seat when the verdict was declared, later called out "Thank you! Thank you!" to the jurors as they left the courtroom.

About 90 minutes later, a smiling and emotional Borgesi - now a free man - walked hand-in-hand with his wife, Alyson Borgesi, 38, into the lobby of the federal courthouse. Both politely declined to comment. His mother, who joined them a little while later, just said, "Thank God."

The panel of 11 women and one man also returned a not-guilty verdict on one of four counts against Ligambi, 74, the Philly mob's reputed boss. Jurors deadlocked on the three main charges against him: racketeering conspiracy, conducting an illegal gambling business and conspiracy to conduct an illegal gambling business.

Ligambi didn't show any visible reaction. The panel acquitted him of witness tampering in regard to a wedding photographer, who took photos of Ligambi and other mobsters at the wedding reception of made member Anthony Staino in 2010.

U.S. District Judge Eduardo Robreno declared a mistrial on the hung charges.

Ligambi's lawyer, Edwin Jacobs Jr., said afterward that the jurors had disclosed they were split 10-2 in favor of acquitting Ligambi on the hung charges.

"I know the jury worked long and hard, but it's a damn shame the two dissenters didn't respect the view of the 10 who were clearly on the right path," Jacobs said. He said it would be a waste of taxpayers' money if the government were to try his client a third time on the deadlocked charges. Jacobs is expected to file a motion this week for his client to be released on bail.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Frank Labor said the decision on whether the government will again retry Ligambi will be made by his office and the U.S. Department of Justice in Washington. The decision could come in about a week.

Labor said prosecutors were "disappointed in the result," but added that in the bigger context, the government's prosecution of the Philly mob has had a "disruptive effect on the operations of the [La Cosa Nostra] in Philadelphia."

U.S. Attorney Zane David Memeger issued a written statement, which said in part: "In this case, the government has convicted 11 defendants of racketeering and related offenses, and the Court has sentenced them to significant prison terms."

Borgesi's lawyer, Christopher Warren, was relieved after the partial verdict was read in court and said of Borgesi during a break in court proceedings: "He said he would buy me a drink, and I intend to hold him to that promise."

As to where they would go, Warren said: "I'll let him pick. It's the first time he's been out of jail in 14 years, so I'll ask him where he wants to go."

The racketeering retrial began with opening statements on Nov. 7. After hearing from about 40 prosecution and defense witnesses, jurors began their deliberations Jan. 8. Yesterday was their 10th day of deliberations.

During deliberations, family members of Ligambi and Borgesi waited outside the judge's 15th-floor courtroom. Manny Borgesi said she used a little room at the far end of the hallway as her "chapel" before the verdicts were announced to pray for her son.

George Borgesi was 36 in 2000 when he was charged in a different racketeering indictment. He was convicted the following year and spent his 40s in federal lockups in West Virginia and North Carolina.

He had completed his prison sentence in 2011, but that year, the feds lodged another racketeering indictment against him and other defendants, which blocked his release.

The 2011 indictment accused Borgesi of the main charge of racketeering conspiracy and of loan-sharking, contending that he directed it behind bars. Last February, a different jury found Borgesi not guilty of the 13 loan-sharking counts, but deadlocked on the racketeering-conspiracy count.

Borgesi met his wife before he went to prison and married her while he was in a federal lockup.

- Staff writer William Bender contributed to this report

On Twitter: @julieshawphilly

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