THAT FORMER Brooklyn mobster testifying in the federal racketeering retrial of two top Philly mobsters sure is a wise guy.
Anthony Aponick, during his cross-examination yesterday with a defense attorney, spat sarcastic comments back to the argumentative lawyer, drawing chuckles from courtroom observers.
At one point, attorney Christopher Warren, who represents onetime mob consigliere George Borgesi, began listing item-by-item expenses for Aponick when he was in the federal witness-protection program. From 2011 to this year, $134,000 in taxpayer funds was spent on Aponick.
Warren told jurors that Aponick received about $12,000 for "subsistence" in 2013. To that, Aponick shot back: "That's for the whole year? Sounds like it's below the poverty level."
Aponick, 42, was an associate with New York's Bonanno crime family when he shared a federal prison cell with Borgesi in Beckley, W. Va., from August 2002 to September 2003. A month after becoming roomies, he reached out to the FBI to become a confidential informant. He fed them details about the Philly mob.
Borgesi, 50, and his uncle, reputed Philly mob boss Joseph Ligambi, 74, are on trial in a racketeering case centered on sports betting, loan-sharking, extortion and video-poker machines.
During his second day on the stand as a government witness, Aponick admitted under questioning by Assistant U.S. Attorney John Han that after he was released from prison in September 2003, he wasn't an angel. He robbed eight banks.
When the FBI learned of this, it canceled its agreement with Aponick. He was no longer the feds' informant. But around October 2005, while Aponick was serving time for the robberies in New York, an agent visited him. "We got to get you out," the agent said, according to Aponick. "You're on a website, whosarat.com."
Days later, Aponick learned that a photo of him with Borgesi in prison together was also on the site. "The only people who could have had that picture were me, Borgesi and Alyson Ferraro," he said, referring to Borgesi's wife.
Since he was on the site, Aponick went into witness protection.
During a combative cross-examination, Warren tried to show that correspondence between Aponick and Borgesi or Ferraro all referenced legal business. In one letter, Aponick asked Ferraro to send him building-code regulations in Delaware and Montgomery counties because he was thinking of building houses there.
"Totally legitimate business?" Warren asked.
"Well, not if we do it," Aponick retorted. With the mob, "you do legitimate businesses, and those businesses act as a front for the illegal businesses."
At one point, Aponick took offense when Warren referred to an intercepted phone conversation that referred to Aponick and Borgesi "pinning" each other in prison. Aponick said it was wrestling terminology.
"He's not a fag and I'm not a fag," said Aponick, who seemed to believe that Warren was implying that the conversation had a homosexual connotation.