A federal judge sentenced a Philadelphia mob underboss to more than 15 years in prison for racketeering, while calling him gregarious and intelligent, and musing on why he never put those talents toward a legitimate career.
U.S. District Judge Eduardo Robreno, a native of Cuba, suggested that if La Cosa Nostra members once had few business opportunities because of racial or ethnic discrimination, that is not the case today.
“I can only conclude that you just don't get it. You never got it,” Robreno told Joseph “Mousie” Massimino. “There is nothing before me that bodes well for your future as a law-abiding citizen, despite all your virtues and talents.”
Massimino was convicted in February. Reputed Philadelphia boss Joseph Ligambi and several other co-defendants are awaiting an October retrial after a jury deadlocked on much of the racketeering, gambling and extortion case.
In rambling remarks to the judge, Massimino attacked prosecutors, probation officers and mob informants who testified against him.
“I'm no boss of nothing,” he said, complaining that he and his co-defendants were compared to terrorist groups.
“If they put the money and manpower into al-Qaida that they put into my case, maybe the World Trade Towers would still be there, and people in Boston would have their legs,” Massimino said, referring to the April 15 bombing of the Boston Marathon.
Massimino's rap sheet spans five decades. He was expelled from a Catholic high school in Philadelphia before graduation, then had what prosecutors called a “mediocre” crime career for 20 years, with arrests for drug trafficking and state-level racketeering. Then he joined the ranks of the mob, they said.
The LCN is not just a rag-tag bunch of guys hanging on a corner in South Philadelphia,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Frank Labor argued. “It's a large, well-established, entrenched criminal enterprise” around the world.
Labor urged an even stiffer sentence on grounds that organized crime stubbornly rises anew in Philadelphia every few years, despite near-constant federal prosecutions.
“It seems like every 10 years, there's a different manifestation of the Philadelphia mob. But it always persists, despite the best efforts of law enforcement and despite their internal warfare,” Labor said.
The Ligambi regime, though, has been far less violent than the bloody reign attributed to earlier Philadelphia bosses Nicky Scarfo, Angelo Bruno and others.
The indictment, described by some as “mob lite,” detailed relatively small-scale loansharking and gambling operations, such as efforts to control poker machines inside South Philadelphia bars and private clubs. At least one alleged mobster was heard on tape saying the Philadelphia mob today was broke.
Robreno nonetheless agreed with prosecutors that their threats amount to crimes of violence but declined a request to go above sentencing guidelines and settled on the maximum guideline sentence of 188 months.