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Friday, June 14, 2024 | Back issues
Courthouse News Service Courthouse News Service

Feds Arrest 13 in Philly Mafia on RICO Charges

(CN) - Authorities unsealed an indictment Monday against 13 alleged leaders of the Philadephia Mafia on Monday, charging them with racketeering, extortion, loan-sharking and illegal gambling.

All but two of the defendants were arrested Monday; those two already are serving prison sentences for previous convictions, according to the Justice Department.

Family boss Joseph Ligambi and underboss Joseph Massimino are among those charged in the 50-count indictment as part of Philadelphia's "largest enforcement action in a decade" against La Cosa Nostra, Assistant Attorney General Lanny Breuer said in a statement.

The other defendants are George Borgesi, Martin Angelina, Anthony Staino Jr., Gaeton Lucibello, Damion Canalichio, Louis Monacello, Louis Barretta, Gary Battaglini, Robert Verrecchia, Eric Esposito and Robert Ranieri.

Borgesi and Canalichio are currently in prison for federal convictions. The remaining defendants made initial court appearances in Philadelphia's District Court following their arrests.

Among other projects, the La Cosa Nostra members allegedly ran an electronic gambling business, collecting the proceeds from video poker machines they provided to bars and restaurants around Philadelphia.

When authorities seized 34 gambling devices, Ligambi, Massimino and Staino allegedly forced the owners of another gambling business to sell their operation to them.

The mafia members allegedly used phrases like "chop him up" and "put a bullet in your head" when threatening people who owed them money, according to the indictment. Canalicho allegedly beat a debtor with a bat.

Authorities say Borgesi and Massimino continued their racketeering operation in prison, using intermediaries to run criminal enterprises and extort people.

The defendants are charged with racketeering conspiracy, collection of unlawful debt, collection of extensions of credit through extortionate means, making extortionate extensions of credit, financing extortionate extensions of credit, witness tampering, and illegal gambling.

The case is being prosecuted by John Han of the Justice Department's organized crime and gang section, Assistant U.S. Attorneys David Troyer and Frank Labor, and Senior Deputy Attorney General Heather Catellino.

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