The Chicago Syndicate: Joe Ligambi
Showing posts with label Joe Ligambi. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Joe Ligambi. Show all posts

Saturday, August 07, 2010

Martin Angelina, Mob Underboss, Sentenced to Probation for Aggravated Assault

Nearly a year after spitting in the face of a Margate police officer, mob underboss Martin Angelina was sentenced Friday to a year's probation and fined $1,000 for aggravated assault.

Angelina, 48, said little during the sentencing hearing before Atlantic County Superior Court Judge Bernard DeLury. Neither he nor his lawyer, M.W. "Mike" Pinsky, would comment as they left the third-floor courtroom.

Dressed in a blue striped polo shirt and jeans, the once roly-poly wiseguy appeared tan and fit as he stood before DeLury at his brief court appearance.

Asked by the judge if he had anything to say, Angelina replied, "Nothing."

DeLury described Angelina's confrontation with Police Officer Christopher Taroncher as "boisterous and profane," but said he would accept a plea deal between Pinsky and the Atlantic County Prosecutor's Office.

The South Philadelphia resident formally entered his guilty plea in June.

The fact that Taroncher was not injured apparently played a role in the prosecution's decision to downgrade the charge to a fourth-degree offense that did not require a jail sentence.

Angelina, DeLury pointed out, has 12 prior arrests and six convictions. He also has a driving-while-intoxicated charge pending in Philadelphia Common Pleas Court. His most serious offense was a conviction for racketeering in 2001. Angelina served nearly six years and was twice jailed for probation violations after his release because he associated with organized-crime figures.

The current probation sentence includes a similar prohibition for the mobster. He also will be required to attend weekly counseling sessions at Alcoholics Anonymous or a similar organization.

Pinsky told DeLury that the current charge was not connected with organized criminal activity. He said it grew out of a domestic dispute.

Angelina was arrested early on Sept. 1, 2009, at an apartment in Margate where he was staying with a girlfriend, according to police. Neighbors had complained about shouting. He and the girlfriend had been arguing while drinking at some local bars and the dispute continued at home, police said.

Angelina spent several hours in the Margate lockup and was being released around 8 a.m. when, officials said, he got into an argument with Taroncher, who was in the process of freeing him. He then spit in Taroncher's face. Angelina was rearrested on an assault charge and remained in the lockup for two more hours before $2,500 bail was posted.

Once described by a federal prosecutor as a "bully running with a gang of misfits," Angelina was a close associate and enforcer for jailed mob boss Joseph "Skinny Joey" Merlino, who ruled the Philadelphia mob family in the late 1990s. Merlino, Angelina, and five codefendants were convicted in the 2001 racketeering case in Philadelphia.

Angelina, according to federal and local police, was named underboss, the number-two man, in the local mob by reputed boss Joseph "Uncle Joe" Ligambi after Angelina completed his prison sentence. The move was seen in law enforcement and underworld circles as a favor to Merlino. Angelina is not considered a close associate of Ligambi's.

Ligambi, 70, has taken a low-key approach to running the crime family and frowns on actions - like spitting on a police officer - that attract media attention.

Angelina, Ligambi, and nearly a dozen other mob figures are the focus of a racketeering investigation being conducted by the FBI and U.S. Attorney's Office in Philadelphia, according to witnesses and investigators involved in that probe.

Thanks to George Anastasia

Tuesday, September 01, 2009

Is the Philadelphia-South Jersey Mob in Decline?

Joseph Ligambi, reputed boss of the Philadelphia-South Jersey mob, heads a criminal organization that has nearly as many active members in jail as it does on the streets.

Decimated by a 20-year onslaught of federal prosecutions, bloody internecine power struggles, and turncoat testimony, the local branch of La Cosa Nostra - which in the 1980s had roughly 80 members - now has a base of about 20 "soldiers." And nine of them are in prison.

Simply put, the Philadelphia Mafia has fallen on hard times. It is no longer the dominant player in the underworld, and is dwarfed in size by some of the area's more violent drug gangs.

That's the picture that has emerged based on a crime-family organizational chart compiled by the Philadelphia Police Department and introduced as evidence at an ongoing hearing into a casino service-industry license for Joseph N. Merlino, cousin of jailed Philadelphia mob leader Joseph S. "Skinny Joey" Merlino.

The hearing, before a Casino Control Commission examiner, resumes today. Joseph N. Merlino is scheduled to testify by the conclusion of the proceedings this week.

Merlino, 42, and his mother, Phyllis, head Bayshore Rebar, a Pleasantville construction company that has twice been denied a service-industry license because of suspected mob ties.

The hearing has included testimony from an ex-FBI agent called as a witness for Merlino who has said that, based on his knowledge and on information from mob informants, he does not believe Merlino, his mother, or Bayshore have organized-crime connections.

Other former agents also are expected to testify on Bayshore's behalf.

The Division of Gaming Enforcement (DGE) has presented law enforcement testimony, surveillance reports, and videos it contends show a continuing organized-crime association.

It is in that context that a picture of the beleaguered Philadelphia-South Jersey mob has emerged.

The chart compiled by the Intelligence Unit of the Philadelphia Police Department has provided a graphic outline of the current structure of the crime family.

Sgt. Daniel McCullough, a unit supervisor, testified for the DGE and noted that Ligambi, mobster Martin Angelina, and other high-ranking members of the organization are under constant surveillance by Philadelphia police or other law-enforcement agencies.

McCullough said he could not testify about specifics without "jeopardizing ongoing investigations." But he did present an overview of the crime family.

His remark underscored reports from other law enforcement sources that the Ligambi organization is the target of an FBI racketeering probe.

The Police Department chart used by the DGE included color photos of most of the key figures in the organization along with their birth dates, addresses, and criminal identification numbers.

Ligambi, who turned 70 last month, is listed as the boss. Angelina, 46, is the acting underboss.

Michael Lancellotti and Anthony Staino are said to be capos, or captains. Staino's data includes the designation "South Jersey."

The nephew of onetime high-profile mobster Ralph "Junior" Staino, Anthony Staino lives in the Swedesboro area and, according to authorities, oversees the mob's South Jersey interests.

He and Angelina have been spotted meeting on a regular basis with Ligambi, according to police. Staino's meetings often take around 6 a.m. as Ligambi walks his dog in the Packer Park section of South Philadelphia, where he lives.

Another major figure, Steven Mazzone, onetime underboss of "Skinny Joey" Merlino, is listed on the chart as a member of the "Merlino faction" but has no rank.

Police sources say this reflects the fact that Mazzone, on supervised release for a 2001 racketeering conviction, has remained low key and has not been spotted meeting with organization members.

Angelina, who was convicted in the same racketeering case, was jailed twice for violating terms of his supervised release. Philadelphia police surveillance reports of Angelina meeting with Ligambi were used to support those violation charges.

According to the organizational chart, the crime family currently is operating without a "consigliere," or counselor. That post is listed as vacant.

The soldiers listed on the chart are John Ciancaglini, Anthony Nicodemo, Martin Curro, Nicholas Olivieri, Frank Gambino, Anthony Pungitore Sr., Anthony Pungitore Jr., Gaeton Lucibello, and Joseph Stanfa, son of jailed mob boss John Stanfa.

The younger Stanfa's designation may simply be a matter of record-keeping. Most sources say he has been "shelved" and not actively involved since his father lost a mob war in 1994 to the organization's Merlino faction.

Three other "inactive" soldiers are listed: Nicholas Milano, a hit man who served nearly 20 years on murder and racketeering charges and who is the brother of mob informant Eugene "Gino" Milano; Luigi Tripodi, a onetime soldier with the Stanfa organization; and "Junior" Staino, a larger-than-life wiseguy who was recently released from prison and who, at 77, is reported to be in poor health.

The jailed members shown on the chart are "Skinny Joey" Merlino; George Borgesi, who is Ligambi's nephew; former Ligambi underboss Joseph Massimino; convicted drug dealer Damion Canalichio; former Stanfa soldier Vince Fillipelli; and four members of the Scarfo organization convicted in a 1988 racketeering case: Frank Narducci, Salvatore Scafidi, Joseph Pungitore, and Charles Iannece.

Thanks to George Anastasia

Wednesday, June 03, 2009

Mobsters Heading to The Shore for Traditional Summer Vacations

It's going to be a real mob scene at the Shore again this summer. And police up and down the coast are getting ready.

That's mob as in M-O-B.

Wiseguys.

Goodfellas.

From Seaside Heights to Sea Isle City, law enforcement agencies are gearing up for a special group of sun-seekers who trade the sidewalks of South Philadelphia, Newark, and New York for the beaches, bars, and boardwalks of the Jersey coast.

It's part of a summer tradition.

"They go there to unwind," said Ron Rozwadowski, an investigator with the New Jersey Division of Criminal Justice and former member of the State Police organized-crime squad that helped dismantle Nicodemo "Little Nicky" Scarfo's crime family back in the 1980s.

Rozwadowski, in fact, did a study on wiseguys summering at the Jersey Shore. Twenty years later, he says, little has changed. "It's easy to blend in," the veteran investigator said. "You have towns where the population quadruples. If there's 20 cars parked in front of a house, it's no big deal."

Crowded bars and restaurants offer easily accessible meeting places. A noisy boardwalk is the perfect barrier to audio surveillance. And the hyperkinetic action at the casinos provides another layer of cover.

That's not to say that all mobsters end their stints at the Shore tanned and rested.

Philadelphia mob boss Joseph "Skinny Joey" Merlino was taken into custody by the FBI at his rented condo in Margate in the summer of 1999, the start of what became a 14-year prison sentence built around a racketeering case.

The Scarfo crime family came undone in 1986 when the State Police bugged a condo on the Boardwalk in Ocean City where mobster Thomas "Tommy Del" DelGiorno was spending the summer with his family. And one of the most damaging pieces of video surveillance played at Scarfo's racketeering trial in 1988 was a shot of him meeting with mob informant Nicholas "Nicky Crow" Caramandi on the Boardwalk outside the Resorts International Casino-Hotel. The tape was used to independently support Caramandi's account of that meeting.

Ralph Natale, another former mob boss, enjoyed spending time in Sea Isle City, where one of his daughters had a home.

His successor, reputed Philadelphia mob leader Joseph "Uncle Joe" Ligambi, has spent several recent summers in Margate, just south of Atlantic City, where a proliferation of upscale restaurants and bars has turned the once-frat-party-like bar scene into a more sophisticated night out.

The presence of Ligambi and other reputed mobsters has not gone unnoticed.

"We just keep our eyes and ears open for the state and federal agencies," said Margate Police Chief David Wolfson, who heads a 33-member department. "We beef up patrols, we do different things," Wolfson said of the department's approach to the influx of tourists and summer visitors. "Our investigative unit goes 24 hours a day. They're always on call."

But reputed mobsters, he said, are treated no differently than anyone else. "If they break the law, they're arrested," he said. "But dealing with them specifically, no, we don't do anything differently."

Low-key and taciturn, Ligambi has spent big chunks of June, July, and August in Margate each summer since his release from prison in 1997 after his mob-murder conviction was overturned. A creature of habit, Philadelphia police sources say, Ligambi last summer routinely headed for his rented Shore home on Thursday or Friday and returned to South Philadelphia on Monday or Tuesday. This year, they say, he has been spotted at his brother's home in nearby Longport, a posh Shore community nestled between Margate and Ocean City.

Barring any unexpected developments - Ligambi is the target of an ongoing FBI racketeering investigation, and the feds have a habit of making their arrests in the summer - the reputed crime kingpin could be celebrating his 70th birthday in August at the beach.

Younger members of the organization are usually part of the weekend crowd at Shore towns up and down the coast. Law enforcement sources say many will end up at Memories in Margate on Saturday nights. The popular bar, owned by Philadelphia's iconic disc jockey Jerry Blavat, draws a young, hip crowd, a mix of movers-and-shakers, wiseguys, and wannabes.

Rozwadowski said the Shore has always been "neutral" territory. He recalled that, during his State Police days, a surveillance in Seaside Heights turned up members of the Genovese, Gambino, Lucchese, and DeCavalcante crime families getting together.

Even before legalized casinos, Atlantic City was a magnet for mobsters. One of the most famous organized-crime confabs in history occurred in 1929 at the old President Hotel on the Boardwalk.

Among those attending was Al Capone, whose trip home to Chicago was short-circuited when he was arrested on a gun charge during a train stop in Philadelphia. He ended up spending about a year in the old Eastern State Penitentiary. His former cell is now a set piece of the prison museum on that site. And while Ligambi might cringe at the ostentation, not every mobster has taken a low-key approach at the Shore.

Scarfo, in the early days of casino gambling, was often spotted ringside at prize fights in the casino-hotels. Other mobsters, before being placed on the casino-exclusion list, would belly up to the craps and blackjack tables.

For younger mobsters and their associates, the game of choice now appears to be poker, and law enforcement authorities keeping tabs on the mob at the Shore regularly check the posh poker lounges in the casino-hotels.

Merlino, even before his arrest on racketeering charges, was a lightning rod for law enforcement. He was cited for gambling in a casino despite the fact that he was on the state's exclusion list, and on Labor Day 1998, he was given a series of citations for public drinking, resisting arrest, and littering. The littering charge came after he took the citation for public drinking, balled it up, and threw it on the ground in front of the police officer who issued it.

He paid a fine to settle his criminal problems, but not before he and others suggested they had been "targeted" because of their alleged underworld affiliations. Not so, said the police.

Wolfson, Margate's chief, said he has taken a very basic approach to the presence of reputed mob figures in his town. "They get treated the same way as everybody else," he said. "If they're not going to drive me crazy, I'm not going to drive them crazy."

Thanks to George Anastasia

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Mob Connected to Multi-State Theft Ring?

There were new details Wednesday about possible mob connections to a multi-state theft ring broken up by Pennsylvania State Police.

Fox 29's Dave Schratwieser reports one of the defendants offered to wear a wire against the local mob and name names -- some very familiar names.

Pennsylvania Attorney General Tom Corbett mentioned possible mob connections to the theft ring. But now court documents and mob experts gave Fox 29 News an inside look at what those connections might be and where they might lead.

Authorities were tight-lipped about possible mob connections during Tuesday's takedown of an interstate theft ring that victimized area golfers, but they didn't deny a potential link. "There's a potential organized crime component, but we can't go into any great detail at this point on that," Corbett said.

The ring allegedly stole credit cards from golfers' cars at local country clubs to finance a $100,000 high-end shopping spree. Troopers wouldn't get specific, but court documents obtained by Fox 29 say accused ringleader Michael Pacitti offered to take troopers on a guided tour of the local mob.

"You've got an individual who was willing to give up some information, wear a wire, talk about organized crime, talk about drug dealing, talk about robberies," Inquirer mob reporter George Anastasia said.

Pacitti told troopers he would "do whatever's necessary" to stay out of jail. He promised to name names, but sources said he never mentioned mob boss Joe Ligambi or his top lieutenants. "It's intriguing because it's just another part of a big pot that's bubbling here," Anastasia said.

According to the court documents, after Pacitti offered to wear a wire against the mob in Philadelphia, he changed his mind, but then offered to give troopers information about one of his co-defendants and his ties to a well-known mobster under investigation across the bridge, in New Jersey.

That mobster was Nicky Scarfo Jr., the target of a wide-sweeping FBI probe. Pacitti said he could connect theft ring suspect Todd Stark to Scarfo. Starks' name already surfaced in that case and sources said he could face federal charges.

"This is all part of an ongoing investigation, an ongoing game, and these guys are caught in the middle of it," Anastasia said.

Sources said Pacitti's documented, but unsuccessful offer to help troopers paints him into a corner with both the mob and investigators. It's still unclear how much he really knows.

Stark on the other hand could be feeling the heat. State police said he and his co-defendants remain behind bars on $50,000 bail.

Thanks to Fox 29

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