Reputed Philadelphia mob boss Joseph "Uncle Joe" Ligambi must remain behind bars pending trial.
U.S. Magistrate Timothy Rice said yesterday that Ligambi's criminal history, coupled with a "pattern" of witness intimidation and attempting to obstruct a federal investigation, were sufficient grounds to keep him locked up.
Defense attorney Joseph Santaguida said he would appeal the decision to U.S. District Judge Eduardo Robreno.
Ligambi, 71, wearing green prison jumpers and white sneakers, pleaded not guilty to racketeering, conspiracy, obstruction and related offenses.
If convicted of all charges, Ligambi could face eight to 10 years in prison under advisory sentencing guidelines, said Assistant U.S. Attorney David Troyer.
Troyer said Ligambi has been the leader of an enterprise running all the rackets in Philly - including extortion, loan-sharking, bookmaking and illegal gambling - since 1999.
He said that even though Ligambi knew he was under investigation, he was not deterred from running the mob or being its boss. If released, Troyer said, Ligambi would continue to commit crimes.
Santaguida said the feds were trying to sensationalize what was basically a gambling case.
"He should have been released on bail, based on the facts [prosecutors] presented," the veteran defense lawyer said, adding: "Just because [Ligambi] may have authority in an organization is no reason to deny bail."
Santaguida also said there was nothing in the indictment that tied Ligambi to violence or threats of violence.
The defense attorney also disputed Troyer's assertion that Ligambi was a flight risk and "could go anywhere" to avoid prosecution.
At one point, the prosecutor had compared Ligambi's flight risk to that of James "Whitey" Bulger, 81, the alleged leader of an organized-crime family in Boston who has been on the lam since the mid-1990s and is on the FBI's 10 Most Wanted Fugitives list. Bulger is charged with racketeering and murder.
Santaguida said that Ligambi's family had been willing to post $1.6 million in real estate to secure his bail and that it was unlikely he would flee and leave them "homeless."
Also denied bail yesterday was Louis "Bent Finger Louie" Monacello, 44, a reputed mob associate who is alleged to have engaged in loan-sharking activities.
Rice said Monacello was a "clear and present danger" to the community and noted he had four convictions, including "threatening another member of the Philadelphia La Cosa Nostra family."
On Wednesday, Rice granted $1 million bail secured by real estate to Anthony "Ant" Staino Jr., also charged with racketeering and said to be a high-ranking member of the mob who "reguarly assisted" Ligambi.
The judge said the absence of a criminal record and no threats of violence justified bail for Staino.