13 reputed Philadelphia mobsters charged

Federal authorities say they have broken up the latest incarnation of Philadelphia’s mob. Prosecutors have charged 13 members of the organization known as “La Cosa Nostra” with multiple counts of conspiracy, extortion and illegal gambling under federal racketeering laws.

FBI agents arrested reputed mob-boss Joseph “Uncle Joe” Ligambi Monday, along with 10 others. Two charged in the indictment are already in jail.

Ligambi joins a long list of Philadelphia mob-bosses. Many of his predecessors ended up serving jail time or were assassinated. Authorities say Ligambi took over after the conviction of previous mob-boss Joey Merlino.


Assistant Attorney General Lanny Breuer says La Cosa Nostra reorganizes after leaders are sent to jail.

“Ligambi rose through the ranks of the organization, becoming an underboss,” said Breuer. “Then becoming acting boss. And then finally when his predecessor was sent to prison, the boss.”

Breuer says the crime organization used its reputation, and threats of violence to collect on loans where interest rates ran up to 152 percent.

“Secret ceremonies, sworn blood oaths of loyalties, threats to possible witnesses,” said Breuer. “These are the time-tested methods of dangerous criminals working hard not to get caught.”

Police are using hours of wiretapped conversations to make their case.

The indictment says the organization’s cash-cow included illegal video poker machines placed in bars throughout the city and taking bets on sports.

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