A judge declared a mistrial Tuesday in the trial of reputed Philadelphia mob boss Joseph Ligambi, after jurors acquitted him on five counts but said they were hopelessly deadlocked on four others, including the key charge of racketeering conspiracy.
Three codefendants, including alleged underboss Joseph "Mousie" Massimino, were convicted on the conspiracy charge and face years in prison.
But jurors found them and the others not guilty of 45 counts of bookmaking, extortion, loan-sharking and other crimes.
One defendant, Joseph "Scoops" Licata was acquitted of the lone charge against him and freed.
The verdicts came on the 21st day of deliberations and after a trial showcasing what prosecutors contended was the latest generation of La Cosa Nostra to run local gambling, extortion and crime rackets, led by the understated 73-year-old boss known as "Uncle Joe."
Ligambi's lawyer hailed the verdicts as "a victory" and repudiation of a case that FBI agents built over more than a decade.
"It's a failure for the government," said the lawyer, Edwin Jacobs Jr. "It was an enormous waste of precious taxpayer funds."
Prosecutors noted they won major convictions against three of seven defendants and said they would consider retrying 11 charges jurors couldn't resolve, including the allegation that all conspired as members of a criminal enterprise -- the mob.
"It was an important case, and it needed to be brought," said Assistant U.S. Attorney David Fritchey, who heads the office's organized crime unit.
But the results were clearly mixed, and in some corners as confusing as some of the 42 notes jurors sent to U.S. District Judge Eduardo Robreno since they began weighing the evidence Jan. 8.
For the second time in four days, the anonymous panel of eight men and four women reported they were at an impasse Tuesday. This note was more forceful than the first on Saturday, declaring they had verdicts on some counts but not all, and were "of unanimous opinion that no future headway can be made to resolve these charges."
Robreno gave them the option of delivering a partial verdict or continuing to deliberate on all the charges. At first they chose to keep talking, then changed course barely 30 minutes later.
About 100 prosecutors, agents, reporters and supporters of the defendants crammed into Robreno's 15th-floor courtroom for the verdict just after 3:30 p.m., with others crowding outside. As the jury foreman began reading decisions in the 61 charges, relatives of Ligambi and the others gasped or cried, trying to untangle what the verdicts meant.
Authorities argued that Ligambi and his cohorts may not have racked up a body count like their predecessors, but used threats of violence to maintain the same grip over gambling, loan-sharking and crime rackets.
Ligambi, they said, strong-armed control of the local video-poker market and stole money and benefits through a no-show job for a local waste disposal company. And they said the boss got a cut of the proceeds in illegal sports betting.
But jurors rejected five of the underlying crimes against Ligambi and deadlocked on four others, including the RICO charge that could have effectively sent him to prison for life.
They also deadlocked on the conspiracy charge against Ligambi's 49-year-old nephew, reputed captain George "Georgie" Borgesi, and cleared Borgesi of 13 other counts related to loan sharking and extortion of debtors.
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