Reputed mob boss loses out on a job
Anthony Staino had work lined up as he awaits a racketeering trial, but the company backed out.
With the unemployment rate hovering around 10 percent, hundreds of thousands of Americans are facing the nearly insurmountable challenge of finding a job.
Reputed South Jersey mob leader Anthony Staino is apparently one of them.
Of course, Staino has the added baggage of a 50-count racketeering indictment, an electronic ankle bracelet, and court-ordered home confinement.
The Gloucester County resident's luck appeared to have changed this month when he received court permission to leave his home to work at a sugar plant in the nearby Pureland Industrial Park.
But Friday, after being contacted by The Inquirer, Royal Sugar L.L.C. rescinded its job offer, according to one of the company's owners.
"The work schedule and his skill set didn't fit," Lawrence Toscano said.
Staino would have been paid an hourly wage for working shifts and would have been required to operate machinery, including a forklift.
Royal Sugar processes and refines sugar for distribution to wholesale and retail companies, Toscano said. Sales last year exceeded $14 million.
Staino is a longtime friend of co-owner William Fawley's, Toscano said, and the company had hoped to give him an opportunity.
"But it just wasn't the right fit," he said.
Staino's lawyer blamed The Inquirer for the change of heart by Royal Sugar, which was identified in the court's order, made public Aug. 30. He said the company rescinded its offer because it had been contacted by a reporter.
Staino will "never be able to find work" if a potential employer gets calls from the media, attorney Gregory Pagano said angrily, while proposing that Royal Sugar's name not appear in any article.
Staino - who, according to investigators, has described himself as the mob's "CFO" and a "member of the board of directors" - had expected to begin work this week. The Pureland industrial complex is just a few miles from his home, near Swedesboro.
"No one wants to stay home 24-7," Pagano had said in an earlier interview. "Anybody who is at all motivated would be interested in going to work."
Since his release on $900,000 bail in May, Staino, 54, has been confined to the house he shares with his wife and 3-year-old daughter in the Westbrook at Weatherby development of Woolwich Township.
The house, valued at more than $300,000, is on a corner lot and has a two-car garage and a fenced-in yard with a patio, grill, and in-ground pool.
Staino is charged along with reputed mob boss Joseph Ligambi and 11 others in a case involving illegal gambling, loansharking, and extortion.
He is the only major defendant free on bail. That he had no previous arrests figured in the court decision to permit home confinement.
Staino, who wears an electronic ankle bracelet that allows authorities to monitor his movements, also is allowed to accompany his lawyer to the Federal Detention Center in Philadelphia for strategy sessions with co-defendants and their lawyers.
Other trips have to be cleared with authorities.
This month, for example, Staino attended his son's wedding and reception in Atlantic County. According to court documents, he had a noon-to-midnight pass.
Staino is charged with playing a major role in the mob's gambling and loansharking businesses since 2001, when Ligambi allegedly began to run the crime family.
Investigators have described him as one of Ligambi's closest associates.
Nearly 10 years in the making, the case is based on recorded conversations from wiretaps and body wires and from information provided by cooperating witnesses and, in Staino's case, from an undercover FBI agent who befriended him.
Unlike the last two mob racketeering cases in Philadelphia, this case does not include charges of murder or attempted murder.
The only violence mentioned in the indictment are threats allegedly made by Staino, Ligambi, and others that were picked up on tape.
"If the threats work, then the violence doesn't have to occur," Assistant U.S. Attorney David Troyer argued in a bail hearing for Ligambi.
Authorities allege that during Ligambi's reign, the threats usually worked.
Staino is heard on one tape threatening to "hurt" the undercover agent if he didn't repay a $20,000 debt, according to the indictment. The agent, posing as a shady Mount Laurel financial planner named Dino, began associating with Staino in 2002. The relationship extended into 2004.
Sources say Dino, who has been identified as FBI Agent David Sebastiani, recorded dozens of conversations in which he and Staino discussed and often joked about Staino's reputed mob connections.
Before a court order prohibiting the defense from commenting was issued, Pagano called the charges against his client "a whole lot of nothing."
Ligambi's lawyer, Edwin Jacobs Jr., has called the charges "racketeering lite."
Jurors, however, are likely to hear tapes made by Sebastiani in which Staino brags about being on the local mob's "board of directors" and serving as its chief financial officer.
On other tapes, Staino allegedly threatens to send "two gorillas" to "chop . . . up" a man who owed him money, according to the indictment.
The trial is tentatively set for next September.
In an "it's a small underworld" twist, Sebastiani testified in court in a Russian organized-crime case at the same time he worked undercover and befriended Staino, court records show. In June 2003, the FBI agent was a witness at the trial of Evgueni Pojilenko, an enforcer for a Russian gang based in Northeast Philadelphia that called itself "KGB."
At that trial, which ended in Pojilenko's conviction, Sebastiani was cross-examined by the Russian mobster's lawyer, Gregory Pagano.
It was only after discovering Dino's real name, Pagano said, that he realized Staino was not the first of his clients to come under the FBI agent's scrutiny.