PHILADELPHIA — The mob is a brand-name enterprise leveraging a reputation forged through a century of crime, threats, and violence.
That was a prosecutor’s message Thursday at the start of three days of closing arguments in the racketeering trial of reputed Philadelphia boss Joseph Ligambi and six others.
“The mob is to the criminal underworld what IBM and GE are to legitimate corporations," Assistant U.S. Attorney John Han told the 12 jurors and four alternates. The mob “has a simple and effective and enduring business model. It goes like this: Work together to make money through force and intimidation."
The arguments follow a nearly three-month trial that showcased a decadelong investigation by the FBI into the crime family. The case included hundreds of secret recordings and testimony from mob insiders, turncoats, and federal agents about gambling, extortion, loan-sharking, and other crimes.
The first defense lawyer to address jurors late Thursday pointed out that the charges were short on the viciousness that had been a hallmark of past mob prosecutions: no claims of executions, brutal beatings, or middle-of-the-night attacks.
“The only people who exhibited any violence in this case were the people the government called as their own witnesses," said Joseph Santaguida, lawyer for alleged underboss Joseph “Mousie" Massimino.
Santaguida told jurors that the government owed them an apology for wasting time and tax dollars, which he said might be better spent chasing terrorists and keeping gunmen out of schools instead of paying agents to sit in vans and record calls from men who want to bet $200 on a football game. “Shame on you," Santaguida thundered as he pointed to the prosecution table. “Shame on you!"
The theatrics are likely to continue as attorneys for the other defendants address jurors today.
Ligambi’s attorney, Edwin Jacobs, delivers his closing Monday, with a government rebuttal to follow. U.S. District Judge Eduardo Robreno told jurors that deliberations could begin Tuesday.