THE FEDERAL racketeering retrial of two reputed Philadelphia mobsters came to an abrupt halt yesterday afternoon when Judge Eduardo C. Robreno ordered the courtroom cleared of spectators.
Testimony never resumed for the day, and the trial has been put on hold until Thursday, said the attorneys, who added that they were barred by Robreno from disclosing the reason for the sudden break.
But hallway chatter indicated that four jurors had reported that they felt intimidated by Alyson Borgesi, 38, the wife of defendant and former Philly mob consigliere George Borgesi, 50.
Among those making that assertion was Manny Borgesi, who is George's mother and the sister of his co-defendant, reputed mob boss Joseph Ligambi, 74.
Both men are being tried on racketeering charges that center on sports betting, loan-sharking, extortion and the operation of illegal video-poker machines.
Manny Borgesi, in the hallway and speaking into a cellphone, was overheard saying that jurors 3, 5, 12 and an alternate juror claimed that Alyson was trying to intimidate them from her seat in the courtroom.
"The government wants to bar the family from the courtroom," Manny Borgesi was heard saying.
George Borgesi's attorney, Christopher Warren, said "no one was intimidated" and that Manny Borgesi was mistaken about what she said because she was not in the courtroom after it was cleared.
"She can say that, but she was mistaken," Warren said as he and Alyson Borgesi left the court building about an hour after everyone else involved with the trial had already departed. Alyson Borgesi declined to comment.
It was not clear how the judge dealt with the intimidation allegations.
Alyson Borgesi doesn't like being in the spotlight, but her name has surfaced repeatedly during the trial - so much so that some members of the Borgesi family think the federal prosecutors are trying to drag her into the trial to bait George Borgesi into a courtroom outburst that could influence the jury.
George Borgesi is extremely protective of his wife. In February, he called Assistant U.S. Attorney John Han a "f---in' punk" in court because he felt the prosecutor had disrespected his wife.
Last week, government witness Louis "Bent Finger Lou" Monacello testified that he would pay jailed George Borgesi by putting money in the glove compartment of Alyson's car.
Monacello was heard on a secretly recorded conversation calling her "Alyson Corleone," a reference to the Mafia family in "The Godfather" films. Monacello explained that he called her that because she got involved in a lot of mob business "for a female."
"F---in' liar," Alyson Borgesi muttered at another point during Monacello's testimony.
"How she's not locked up is beyond me, because she's an associate," a frequent trial spectator said yesterday.