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Assistant Attorney General Lanny A. Breuer of the Criminal Division Speaks at the Philadelphia La Cosa Nostra Takedown Press Conference


Philadelphia, PA
United States

Thank you Zane.

Today, a 50-count superseding indictment was unsealed charging 13 leaders, members and associates of the Philadelphia La Cosa Nostra Family with crimes that spanned more than a decade.

Philadelphia boss Joseph Ligambi, underboss Joseph Massimino, and nine other members and associates of the Philadelphia LCN were arrested this morning by FBI agents and local law enforcement officers. The remaining two defendants are already serving prison sentences in federal facilities.

The superseding indictment alleges all the hallmarks of organized criminal activity – that the defendants committed crimes ranging from witness tampering and extortion to loan sharking and illegal gambling, and that they used violence and the threat of violence to exert control over others.

Secret ceremonies, sworn blood oaths of loyalty, threats to possible witnesses – these are the time-tested methods of dangerous criminals working hard not to get caught.

The Philadelphia LCN Family has shown a remarkable ability to reorganize and reinvigorate itself, even as its members were sent to prison. According to the superseding indictment, Ligambi rose through the ranks of the organization, becoming an underboss, then acting boss and, finally, when his predecessor was sent to prison, the boss.

Today, we are showing our resilience and determination in the fight against organized crime. These arrests represent yet another concrete demonstration of the renewed focus the Attorney General has placed on fighting these criminal syndicates. In January, we sent a clear and unprecedented message to La Cosa Nostra. We arrested 91 LCN leaders, members, and associates, and 36 other defendants in four districts on charges ranging from racketeering, murder, and extortion to robbery, gambling and drug trafficking.

We followed January’s actions with racketeering charges in March against the former boss of the New England Organized Crime Family and three associates. And now, today, we’ve announced one of the largest enforcement actions in a decade against La Cosa Nostra in Philadelphia.

Attorney General Robert Kennedy understood that the devastating grip of organized crime in this country had to be broken. Attorney General Holder has renewed that commitment. While we have pried loose La Cosa Nostra’s grip on power and influence, we know that there is still work to be done.

There is no question that organized criminal activity in the United States and elsewhere has evolved over the last decades. We’re seeing increasing and alarming rises in the threat posed by transnational organized criminal groups, while also seeing traditional organized crime groups like La Cosa Nostra moving into new areas of criminality, like health care fraud. We must tackle one while applying consistent pressure on the other.

We have and we will. In February, 102 members and associates of transnational organized criminal groups operating in the United States, including Armenian Power, were charged in indictments unsealed in Los Angeles; Santa Ana, Calif.; Miami; and Denver with federal crimes including bank fraud, kidnapping, racketeering and health care fraud.

Over the past four months, this department has shown that our commitment to fighting organized crime is backed by actions. Arrests, charges, convictions, prison sentences – the drumbeat of enforcement is growing louder and organized crime figures throughout the country should hear it and take notice.

The prosecutors of the Criminal Division’s newly-merged Organized Crime and Gang Section, AUSAs in U.S. Attorneys’ Offices around the country, and the remarkable FBI agents in the organized crime squads are some of the most dedicated public servants I know. Their cases can take years to build, their personal safety is often at risk, and yet they are determined to see this fight to the finish.

The life of a traditional “mobster” has been dramatized in the movies and on TV. But there is nothing entertaining about violence in our communities. There is nothing endearing about lives spent pursuing criminal activity. And there is no excuse or honor in favoring allegiance to a crime family over the rule of law.

As we continue our efforts to bring down these groups, we will use all the tools at our disposal – including wiretaps, undercover operations and consensual recordings - to build cases against these individuals, and bring them to justice.

We are not going away.

Before I conclude, I’d like to thank the agencies – the FBI, IRS-Criminal Investigations, the Philadelphia Police Department, the Pennsylvania Attorney General’s Office, the Pennsylvania State Police, the New Jersey State Police and the U.S. Attorney’s Office – for all their hard work and partnership in making today’s enforcement actions possible.

I’d now like to turn it over to my friend and partner, U.S. Attorney Zane Memeger.

Updated September 17, 2014