By Tony Hanson

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – Jury selection begins today in a case of alleged extortion, loan sharking, gambling and witness intimidation by a criminal organization that has operated for decades.

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Alleged Philadelphia mob boss Joseph Ligambi, alleged underboss Joseph Massimino and several others are charged. The government’s case will include secretly-recorded conversations involving the defendants, testimony from cooperating witnesses and alleged victims of the mob’s violence and strong armed tactics.

Ligambi allegedly took over the Philadelphia La Cosa Nostra organized crime family in 1999, joining an infamous leadership list including Angelo Bruno, Nicky Scarfo, Phillip Testa, John Stanfa and the high profile Joey Merlino, Ligambi’s alleged predecessor, who was arrested in 1999 and was later convicted of federal racketeering charges. Merlino was released from prison last year.

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Ligambi and the six others going to trial today all have pleaded not guilty.

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