Star mob witness is both disappointed and satisfied

Prosecutors enlisted Louis "Bent-Finger Lou" Monacello, who took the stand late Friday, to bolster their claims that George Borgesi, his one-time boss, used violence or threats of it to run rackets for more than a decade.
Prosecutors enlisted Louis "Bent-Finger Lou" Monacello, who took the stand late Friday, to bolster their claims that George Borgesi, his one-time boss, used violence or threats of it to run rackets for more than a decade.
Posted: January 31, 2014

The trial is over, but Louis "Bent Finger Lou" Monacello isn't done talking.

In an interview Wednesday, the outspoken former mob associate and star government witness against reputed Philadelphia mob boss Joseph Ligambi and his nephew George Borgesi, said he was disappointed in the outcome of their racketeering retrial, which ended last week without a guilty verdict against either man.

But, Monacello said, he is not sorry for the role he played in it.

"I'm happy with the 30 months in jail I gave Ligambi and Borgesi for screwing me over," he said, referring to the time both men spent behind bars in the run-up to their trial. "I did the right thing by the mob and got screwed."

He added: "This couldn't have worked out better. Not only do I never have to deal with these guys, I never have to take the witness stand again."

Monacello, 47, emerged as one of the most colorful witnesses in the case against Ligambi, 74, and Borgesi, 50.

During days on the stand last year, he regaled jurors with tales of his time working for Borgesi, while Borgesi served out a federal prison term on a previous racketeering conviction.

Monacello testified that he ran Borgesi's illegal gambling and loan sharking operations and sent his boss up to $40,000 a year in proceeds through deposits in his prison commissary account and cash-stuffed envelopes left in the car glove box of Borgesi's wife, Alyson.

He agreed to testify, he said in court, once he began hearing rumblings that Ligambi and Borgesi were plotting to have him killed. (Lawyers for both men have denied the accusation.)

But Monacello's style - confident, bordering at times on cocky - and frequent digs at his former colleagues from the witness stand drew the ire of defense attorneys, who frequently attacked his credibility.

Ligambi's lawyer, Edwin Jacobs Jr., referred to Monacello and other mob turncoats who testified as "walking, talking embodiments of reasonable doubt" during his opening statements to jurors in November.

He later described them as "the most unsavory, unreliable arch-criminals who have ever been assembled in one courtroom."

During Ligambi and Borgesi's first trial in 2012, Monacello's one-time right-hand man, Frank "Frankie the Fixer" DiGiacomo, called into question much of Monacello's testimony.

And his stints on the stand often prompted whispered curses from the courtroom gallery from Anthony Borgesi, George's brother.

Monacello testified that he and Anthony had often clashed over Monacello's role running his brother's rackets.

With typical bravado Tuesday, Monacello fired back.

"They had no choice but to take shots at me," he said. "I'm the main guy from South Philly that took the stand against them. What other recourse did they have?"

Ultimately, though, two juries found Monacello's testimony unconvincing.

On Friday, the latest panel to hear the case acquitted Borgesi and said it could not come to a unanimous verdict against Ligambi.

Borgesi was released from federal detention on Friday. Ligambi returned home Tuesday after prosecutors opted not try his case for a third time.

For his part, Monacello, said he is sleeping well these days and relaxing at his beach house.

Where exactly that house is, he'd rather not say given the animosity between him and the men against whom he testified, he said.

"I'm great. I never have to deal with Joe or George or their dumb brother Anthony - aka Fredo on steroids - again," Monacello said, referring to Fredo Corleone, the bumbling mobster of the Godfather films. "This is me being me."

Under the terms of his agreement with the government, Monacello pleaded guilty in 2011 to counts of racketeering conspiracy and loan sharking and agreed to testify against his former mob associates. He faces sentencing later this year.

jroebuck@phillynews.com

215-925-2649

@jeremyrroebuck

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