Federal prosecutors in Philadelphia want to lock up nine of 13 indicted mob members and associates - including reputed boss Joseph "Uncle Joe" Ligambi - while they await trial.
In a court filing yesterday, the feds said that the nine defendants - two of whom are already in prison on unrelated convictions - were all charged with racketeering and a violent crime, and thus posed a danger to the community.
In addition to Ligambi, 72, the feds also want pretrial detention for all his top lieutenants, including alleged underboss Joseph "Mousie" Massimino, 61. All are in custody pending bail hearings this week.
The feds said that even if the defendants were released under the most stringent bail conditions, they would be likely to pursue criminal activities on behalf of the enterprise formally known as the Philadelphia La Cosa Nostra Family.
The court filing contained some new information that was not disclosed in Monday's 70-page indictment. Prosecutors said that the defendants "often charged in excess of 30 percent per week interest, or "juice" payments," in connection with the mob's alleged loan-sharking operations.
Prosecutors also said they had evidence of discussions to harm cooperating witnesses or to persuade potential or prospective witnesses to withhold testimony or documents.
The government filing cited numerous prior federal-district and appellate-court rulings here that upheld the pretrial detention of organized-crime defendants who had been charged with racketeering-related offenses.
Meanwhile, a fourth minor defendant in the case was released on bail yesterday.
Robert "Bootsie" Verrecchia, 42, of 11th Street near Ritner, who allegedly operated and owned an illegal gambling and sports-bookmaking business at the now-defunct Lou's Crab Bar, in South Philadelphia, pleaded not guilty and was released on $50,000 unsecured bond.
U.S. Magistrate Timothy Rice also ordered Verrecchia, who works as a roofer, to undergo drug treatment. Authorities said he tested positive for cocaine and marijuana following his arrest on Monday. Rice said that if Verrecchia tested positive for the drugs again, he would revoke his bail.