Reputed mobster Martin "Marty" Angelina's release from prison was snatched away yesterday by a federal district judge less than 24 hours after a federal magistrate had granted bail.
And it was a cellphone - or at least the court's inability to resolve how to monitor its use - that did in Angelina.
After U.S. Magistrate L. Felipe Restrepo on Tuesday ordered that Angelina be released on $300,000 bail and put under 24-hour house arrest with electronic monitoring and limited the number of visitors he could see, federal prosecutors asked him to stay the order while they appealed the decision to U.S. District Judge Eduardo Robreno.
Angelina, 48, of South Philadelphia, described by prosecutors as a "high-ranking member" of the Philly mob, has been charged with racketeering conspiracy, operating an illegal gambling business and attempting to collect a debt through extortion. He has pleaded not guilty to all charges.
During a 75-minute hearing yesterday, U.S. Justice Department Trial Attorney John Han told Robreno that the feds were concerned that if Angelina were released on bail, he would continue to conduct mob business.
The prosecutor said that conditions imposed by Restrepo might prevent some potential misconduct but wouldn't "restrict [Angelina] from communicating" with others.
"A visitor could bring [Angelina] a cellphone," Han said, adding that the defendants used cellphones to carry out the organization's activities and issue orders.
"You're down to cellphones, now?" Robreno asked, adding that the prosecutor had a point.
Defense attorney Jack McMahon Jr. said that even if Angelina were locked up, people could still visit him. "There's only so much the court can do unless you just put him in an isolated cave," he said.
But Robreno said he didn't see any way the court could be assured that Angelina would not have access to a visitor's cellphone and therefore granted the government's motion to revoke Angelina's bail.
An indictment unsealed May 23 charged reputed Philadelphia mob boss Joseph "Uncle Joe" Ligambi and a dozen other alleged members and associates of the organization with illegal gambling, loan-sharking and related offenses.
Six defendants have been granted bail, five were ordered detained pending trial and two are in jail on unrelated offenses.