Reputed South Jersey mobster Damion Canalichio was ordered held without bail Thursday while he awaits trial on racketeering charges.
U.S. District Court Judge Eduardo C. Robreno said Canalichio's criminal history and the allegations in the pending case supported prosecutors' arguments that Canalichio, 42, would be a danger to the community if released on bail.
Canalichio's lawyer, Margaret Grasso, had argued for some form of house arrest, citing the nearly 30 relatives and friends who had packed the 11th-floor federal courtroom in Philadelphia for the bail hearing.
Grasso said most were willing to post their homes as collateral in a bail package.
Canalichio, of the Turnersville section of Washington Township, is completing a 57-month sentence for a drug-dealing conviction. He was eligible for release on Dec. 18.
In May, however, he was indicted along with reputed mob boss Joseph Ligambi and 11 others in a racketeering case built around allegations of loan-sharking, extortion, and illegal gambling.
The case includes taped conversations in which Canalichio allegedly boasts about his use of violence to collect loan-shark debts and in which he identifies himself as a collector for Ligambi.
In arguing against bail, Assistant U.S. Attorney John S. Han described Canalichio was a "formally initiated member of La Cosa Nostra" with a history of eight arrests and four convictions since 1999.
Two of those convictions were for drug trafficking.
Han said Canalichio faced up to 262 months in prison if convicted in the pending racketeering case.
Canalichio is one of six defendants in the case, including Ligambi, who have been denied bail pending trial, which is scheduled for September.
All six are held at the Federal Detention Center at Seventh and Arch Streets in Philadelphia.
The denial of bail and the threat of a lengthy prison sentence have been described by both underworld and law enforcement sources as attempts to pressure Canalichio into cooperating.
Authorities believe he has information about the murder of mobster John "Johnny Gongs" Casasanto in 2003. The Casasanto murder is one of three gangland killings that are the focus on an investigation by the FBI and Philadelphia police homicide detectives.