THE DEFENSE rested its case Wednesday in the racketeering trial of reputed mob boss Joseph Ligambi and six associates, and U.S. District Judge Eduardo Robreno removed one juror amid concerns that he'd been influenced by last week's news reports of a mob-related killing in South Philadelphia.

Juror No. 5 was replaced with an alternate who has been present throughout the trial, which began in October.

Defense lawyers, pursuing a less-is-more strategy, called only four witnesses to rebut the government's case against Ligambi and his co-defendants. The indictment, unsealed in May 2011, includes allegations of extortion, loan-sharking and illegal gambling.

Closing arguments are scheduled to begin Jan. 3.

- William Bender