We’re not guilty, we’re victims! Those were the words of Edwin Jacobs Jr the defense attorney for alleged Philadelphia Mafia acting boss Joseph “Uncle Joe” Ligambi as opening remarks began in the latest Philadelphia mafia trial.
Jacobs called the prosecutors case against his client and the six co-defendants were built on half truths and fabrications from others looking to get out of their own criminal troubles. Jacobs noted that the prosecution has little substance to support the racketeering conspiracy allegations being made and argued that not a single real charge in the case would even make an episode of The Sopranos.
Alleged action boss Ligambi is the lead defendant in the case and prosecutors are attempting to proof that he headed a criminal organization which engaged in loan sharking , extortion , and illegal gambling beginning in 1999 and lasting almost 12 years. Frank Labor assistant U.S. Attorney in opening comments allege that Ligambi and his co-defendants used the reputation of the Philadelphia mob for using violence to intimidate victims into paying mob tributes and shakedowns.
Defense attorney Joseph Santaguida who represents alleged Philadelphia mafia underboss Joseph “Mousie” Massimino said that the prosecution had overstated would not be able to prove there case for racketeering and had overstated its evidence. He stated that Massimino had no criminal involvement in any of the charges which in the end only really amounts to a glorified illegal gambling case. The other five defendants who include Joseph “Scoops” Licata , Anthony Staino, Damion Canalichio , George Borgesi, and Gary Battaglini had opening statements from there attorneys finish the proceedings on Thursday.
When the trial continues on Friday the first witness is expected to be called to the stand. The trial is expected to last anywhere from eight to twelve weeks.