Jailed mob boss Joseph "Uncle Joe" Ligambi illegally collected more than $224,000 in medical benefits for himself and his family while holding a no-show job at a South Philadelphia trash-disposal company, according to an expanded federal indictment unsealed Thursday.
Ligambi, who already faced racketeering charges linked to gambling, loan-sharking, extortion, and the operation of illegal video-poker machines, was charged with two additional counts of theft and conspiracy for allegedly falsifying employment records to qualify for medical coverage from a Teamsters health and welfare fund. The coverage was a benefit of his phantom employment at Top Job Disposal between 2003 and 2010, according to the latest indictment.
Ligambi's connections to Top Job, a company with offices just off Packer Avenue and Third Street, were detailed in a report issued in December by the New Jersey State Commission of Investigation that focused on organized crime's ties to the waste-disposal business. Ligambi received a weekly salary of $500 to $1,000, as well as medical and health benefits, while doing no work for the company, according to the probe.
The new charges also added two defendants to the case: Joseph "Scoops" Licata, longtime leader of the North Jersey faction of the Philadelphia mob, and Louis "Big Lou" Fazzini, a top Licata associate. They were indicted on racketeering conspiracy charges tied to broader gambling and loan-sharking allegations for which Ligambi and others were arrested in May.
Licata, 70, of Florham Park, N.J., and Fazzini, 45, of Caldwell, N.J., were arrested Thursday morning and appeared at hearings before U.S. Magistrate Judge Elizabeth T. Hey in federal court in Philadelphia. They were held pending bail hearings Tuesday. Prosecutors said they intended to argue that the men should be held without bail pending trial because they posed a danger to the community.
Licata was identified in the indictment as a caporegime, or captain, of the North Jersey crew of the Philadelphia crime family who "supervised" Fazzini — a "made" member of the organization — in an illegal sports-gambling business and other activities.
Ligambi, 72, and five other key defendants in the case have been denied bail and have been housed in the Federal Detention Center in Philadelphia since their arrests. The case, before Judge Eduardo C. Robreno, is scheduled for trial in September.
The new charges against Ligambi allege that he filed false documents claiming employment in order to qualify for health benefits.
Ligambi "was placed on the payroll of Top Job Disposal ... as a 'no show' employee who performed no work or productive services," according to the indictment. He and company officials allegedly filed the false information enabling Ligambi to receive medical benefits.
According to the state report filed in December, Ligambi was hired by his longtime friend Mauro Goffredo, a founder and owner of the company. Goffredo died six years ago of natural causes. In an interview after the report was made public, Goffredo's son Gregory, who briefly ran the company after his father's death, said he had no idea why his father had put Ligambi on the payroll and conceded that the mob boss did no work for Top Job.
The indictment alleges that from 2003 to 2011, Ligambi defrauded the Teamsters Fund out of $224,424 for medical and dental benefits provided to himself and several dependents. Among other things, Ligambi was hospitalized for a gallbladder operation during that time, according to several sources.
The superseding indictment also provides a detailed account of the history of the Philadelphia mob with references to past mob bosses and the interaction between Ligambi and New York crime leaders. Among other things, it alleges that Ligambi and his top associate and codefendant Anthony Staino sought the help of the Gambino crime family in New York during a dispute with the Lucchese crime family.
The indictment alleges that they were concerned that the Lucchese organization was trying to encroach on the "moneymaking activities" of the Ligambi organization and hoped to "recruit" individuals associated with the Philadelphia family.