But before the defense was allowed to begin the presiding judge questioned each of the jurors and alternates about the recent shooting of Gino DePietro. Reputed Philly mob soldier Anthony Nicodemo has been charged with the hit and U.S. District Judge Eduardo Robreno wanted to assure that jurors and alternates were unduly influenced by any media reports of the event. Since only one juror thought reports may influence deliberations judge ruled that the trial would continue and defense team could decide to as for the single juror to be replaced by an alternate. The defense then launched its case to combat the prosecution case and testimony of mob turncoats.
(Ligambi left and Borgesi right)
One of the key witnesses called by the defense was Jerry Davis a former Philadelphia City Council staffer and neighbor of mob turncoat Louis “Bent Finger Lou” Monacello. Davis said he often hung out and drank with Monacello his former South Philly neighbor and he even helped him move. He testified that the more Monacello drank the more he talked about Ligambi and co-defendants George Borgesi and Martin Angelina. Davis said that Monacello often boasted that he could use Borgesi’s name to get anything he wanted and he hoped Borgesi never came home from prison. He also mentioned he hated Ligambi and wanted Angelina dead and no one in crime family knew what they were doing. Davis also testified that that Monacello told him that he would do anything to stay out of jail and was hoping to one day profit from a reality tv show and a book deal. This testimony supported the defenses argument that Monacello was working on his own in the criminal underworld and had fabricated stories about Borgesi.
The defense was also able to seemingly undermine an important part of evidence against co-defendants Joseph “Scoops” Licata , Anthony Staino , Ligambi and others. Authorities described a lunch meeting between Philly mobsters and members of the Gambino crime family as a meeting of the board of directors of organized crime of each mafia family. The prosecution contends the meeting was held to talk about mafia business and that secretly recorded tapes from a mob informant wearing a body wire are proof of it. The informant was turncoat Gambino mobster Nicholas “Nicky Skins” Stefanelli who later committed suicide so was unable to testify and tie the conversations recorded to actual criminal activities instead of just random chatter. But defense witness Chris Tocci the manager of the restaurant where the meeting took place testified that the mobsters sat in main dining room for the meeting in earshot of many other patrons. Tocci said he offered the group the option of dining in a private room but they said they wanted to eat in main dining area. The defense said if the alleged mobsters were there to talk about mob business they would of dined in the private area.
The defense team seemed to have a very good day and spirits are high among both lawyers and the defendants. The day went so well in fact that alleged Philly mob underboss Joseph “Mousie” Massimino a co-defendant in case joked about with U.S. Attorney John Han about going home. During a break in the trial Massimino asked Han “Can you give me a ride John?”. But we wont know for sure if the jury sees it the same way and the mobsters are allowed to walk out of the Federal Detention center free men until January.