By Tony Hanson
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Cold-blooded mobsters, or victims targeted by overzealous and desperate authorities?
That’s the choice laid out for the jury in federal court in Philadelphia, hearing the case against alleged mob boss Joseph Ligambi and six others charged in a federal racketeering indictment.
Federal prosecutor Frank Labor today told the jury that Ligambi ran the mob for over a decade after former boss Joey Merlino went to prison (see related story), and that he ran the illegal operations — gambling, loansharking, video poker machines, and more — through the use of violence and threats of violence (see related story).
But Ligambi’s attorney, Edwin Jacobs, scoffs at the government’s case — over a decade in the making, including thousands of recorded conversations, surveillance, undercover agents, and cooperating witnesses.
While conceding nothing, Jacobs says there was no violence — not even much tough talk.
“If there was any sport bookmaking, if there was any money lending, if there was any video poker violations, if there were, it had nothing to do with any big Mafia, La Cosa Nostra, racketeering conspiracy,” he said today. “They should have just charged a couple of guys with doing this and that and we would all be out of here in a week.”
But this trial is expected to last months. All the defendants have pleaded not guilty.