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Feds Nab Philly La Cosa Nostra Crime Boss

May 24, 2011  | 

Thirteen La Cosa Nostra associates in Philadelphia, including the Mafia boss, have been indicted for racketeering conspiracy, extortion, loan sharking, illegal gambling and witness tampering.

The defendants charged in the 50-count superseding indictment include Philadelphia family boss Joseph Ligambi and family underboss Joseph Massimino. All but two of the defendants were arrested Monday. George Borgesi and Damion Canalichio are already serving federal prison sentences for prior convictions.

"Today's arrests and charges are the largest enforcement action in a decade against La Cosa Nostra in Philadelphia," according to Assistant Attorney General Lanny A. Breuer. "We have pried loose La Cosa Nostra's grip on power and influence in the U.S. We will continue use all the tools at our disposal—including wiretaps, undercover operations, and consensual recordings—to build cases against these individuals and to bring them to justice."

For more than a decade, 10 of the defendants conducted and participated in a pattern of racketeering activity that included the collection of unlawful debts, according to the indictment.

The alleged racketeering activity includes numerous acts of extortion, extensions of credit through usurious loans, collections, illegal gambling, and witness tampering. The organization's collection of unlawful debts allegedly relates to its loan sharking operations and debts that arose from their illegal gambling businesses.

Several of the defendants also allegedly ran illegal electronic gambling device businesses, providing video poker machines and other gambling devices for bars, restaurants, convenience stores, coffee shops, and other locations in Philadelphia and its suburbs, and then collected the illegal gambling proceeds.

In another example, the superseding indictment charges that from 2002 to 2006 Massimino extorted yearly tribute payments from a bookmaker to the Philadelphia LCN family so the bookmaker could avoid personal harm and disruption of the illegal bookmaking business.

The defendants allegedly used violence to intimidate and prevent victims and witnesses from cooperating with law enforcement. The indictment alleges various instances where defendants used phrases such as "chop him up" and "put a bullet in your head" when threatening victims. In one instance, Canalicho allegedly used a bat to beat a victim for not paying a loan debt.

Each charge of racketeering conspiracy, collection of unlawful debt, collection of extensions of credit through extortionate means, making extortionate extensions of credit, financing extortionate extensions of credit, and witness tampering carries a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine. The illegal gambling charges each carry a maximum penalty of five years in prison and a $250,000 fine.

The case is being investigated by the FBI, the IRS-Criminal Investigations, the Pennsylvania State Police, the New Jersey State Police, and the Philadelphia Police Department. Additional assistance was provided by the New Jersey Department of Corrections.

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