WASHINGTON – Two alleged members of the Philadelphia organized crime family of La Cosa Nostra (LCN) were arrested today on racketeering charges contained in a second superseding indictment, announced Assistant Attorney General Lanny A. Breuer of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, U.S. Attorney Zane David Memeger for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania and Special Agent in Charge George C. Venizelos of the FBI’s Philadelphia Field Office.
Joseph Licata, 70, of Florham Park, N.J., and Louis Fazzini, 45, of Caldwell, N.J., were arrested today in the Newark, N.J., area and will make initial court appearances in U.S. District Court in Philadelphia at 1:30 p.m. EST. They are each charged with racketeering conspiracy. According to the second superseding indictment, Licata served as a “caporegime” of North Jersey crew of the Philadelphia LCN Family and supervised Louis Fazzini, a fully initiated or “made” member of this crew, in the operation of an illegal sports gambling business and other activities.
The 52-count second superseding indictment also charges 12 defendants who were previously charged in a May 23, 2011, superseding indictment: Philadelphia LCN Family acting boss Joseph Ligambi, Philadelphia LCN Family underboss Joseph Massimino, George Borgesi, Martin Angelina, Anthony Staino Jr., Gaeton Lucibello, Damion Canalichio, Louis Barretta, Gary Battaglini, Robert Verrecchia, Eric Esposito and Robert Ranieri.
The second superseding indictment adds two new charges against Philadelphia LCN Family acting boss Ligambi relating to theft from an employee benefit plan administered by the Teamsters Health and Welfare Fund of Philadelphia and Vicinity. According to the second superseding indictment, from 2003 to 2011, Ligambi unlawfully caused the Teamsters Health and Welfare Fund of Philadelphia and Vicinity to pay the cost of health benefits provided to him and several of his family members through a “no show” job at Top Job Disposal, a Philadelphia-based waste hauling and removal company. As a “no show” employee, he performed no work or productive services for Top Job Disposal, while still receiving pay and health benefits.
The second superseding indictment alleges that for more than a decade, 11 of the defendants, including Ligambi as the acting boss and Massimino as the underboss, as well as other members and associates of the Philadelphia LCN Family in Philadelphia and New Jersey, conspired to conduct and participate in the affairs of the Philadelphia LCN Family through a pattern of racketeering activity and through the collection of unlawful debts. The alleged racketeering activity includes numerous acts involving extortion, extortionate extensions of credit through usurious loans, extortionate collections, illegal gambling, witness tampering and theft from an employee benefit plan. The organization’s collection of unlawful debts allegedly relates to its loan sharking operations and debts that arose from their illegal gambling businesses.
According to the second superseding indictment, the defendants promoted and furthered their illegal money-making activities through violence, actual and implied threats, and the cultivation and exploitation of the Philadelphia LCN Family’s long-standing reputation for violence. The defendants also used this reputation for violence to intimidate and prevent victims and witnesses from cooperating with law enforcement. The second superseding indictment alleges various instances where defendants used phrases such as “chop him up” and “put a bullet in your head” when threatening victims. In one instance, Canalicho allegedly used a bat to beat a victim for not paying a loan debt.
The second superseding indictment alleges that some of the defendants continued their racketeering activities even after being sent to prison. For example, Borgesi and Massimino, while in prison, allegedly generated criminal proceeds for themselves and the Philadelphia LCN Family by using intermediaries to operate criminal businesses and to make extortionate demands at their direction.
Each charge of racketeering conspiracy, collection of unlawful debt, collection of extensions of credit through extortionate means, making extortionate extensions of credit, financing extortionate extensions of credit and witness tampering carries a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine. The illegal gambling and theft from an employee benefit plan charges each carry a maximum penalty of five years in prison and a $250,000 fine.
The case is being prosecuted by Trial Attorney John S. Han of the Criminal Division’s Organized Crime and Gang Section and Assistant U.S. Attorney Frank A. Labor III for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania. Valuable prosecutorial assistance was provided by the Pennsylvania Office of the Attorney General.
The case is being investigated by the FBI, the Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigation Division, the Pennsylvania State Police, the New Jersey State Police, the Philadelphia Police Department and the U.S. Department of Labor Office of Inspector General Office of Labor Racketeering and Fraud Investigations and the Employee Benefits Security Administration. Additional assistance was provided by the New Jersey Department of Corrections.
An indictment is merely an accusation and each defendant is presumed innocent until and unless they are proven guilty.