‘Uncle Joe’ Ligambi held without bail

A federal judge ordered that the reputed boss of the Philadelphia mob be held without bail Thursday.

Federal prosecutors unsealed an indictment this week that charges Joseph “Uncle Joe” Ligambi and a dozen others with racketeering.

In denying bail, U.S. District Court Judge Timothy Rice called Ligambi a danger to the community. The judge noted Ligambi’s criminal record as part of his reason for denying bail. Ligambi was previously convicted in a mob-related murder but that conviction was later overturned.

Ligambi’s attorney pointed out that his client has not been accused of committing any violent acts himself and said various relatives were prepared to offer a combined $1.6 million dollars in collateral.

But the indictment points to the organization using its “reputation” for violence.

While the charges lack the drama of gangland slayings, the 50-count indictment describes an organization funded by video poker machines placed in bars.

“What there have always been are charges of gambling, bookmaking, extortion because that is the money that runs the engine here,” said Barry Gross, a former assistant U.S. attorney who prosecuted the previous four bosses of La Cosa Nostra in Philadelphia.

Ligambi pleaded not guilty to the racketeering charges during an initial appearance Monday.

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