Editor's Note: This story originally ran on Dec. 20, 2012
Lawyers for reputed mob boss Joseph Ligambi and six associates rested their case Wednesday, hours after persuading the trial judge to dismiss a juror who said his view of the case might have been tainted by reports of a possible mob-related hit last week.
U.S. District Judge Eduardo Robreno did not publicly explain why he dismissed the juror or who requested it.
But defense lawyers had said the man, identified as Juror No. 5, was the only panel member who admitted during private talks with the judge that his deliberations might be influenced by the Dec. 12 shooting of Gino DiPietro in South Philadelphia.
After reviewing transcripts of his remarks to the judge, the attorneys requested his removal.
"Juror No. 5 will no longer be sitting with us," Robreno told the reconfigured 12-member jury and four alternates as they filed into the courtroom. "You should not speculate as to the reasons for that. He has been dismissed from juror service."
DiPietro, 50, was gunned down outside his home on the 2800 block of South Iseminger Street on Wednesday afternoon. Police charged reputed mob soldier Anthony Nicodemo, 41, with the killing. Investigators have offered no motives for the crime.
Nicodemo and DiPietro had no clear ties to the trial. Some reports have said the victim may have been cooperating with federal agents. DiPietro also had a criminal record for drug-dealing.
The killing, even if unrelated, has been the closest thing to a local mob hit jurors had heard about since the trial began in late October.
The charges against the 73-year-old Ligambi and his associates don't include allegations of actual violence, but prosecutors say the defendants used threats and the mob's reputation for beatings and killings to control illegal gambling, extortion, and loan-sharking rackets across the region.
Lawyers for Ligambi and his codefendants have portrayed the claims as flimsy allegations built on unreliable informants and admitted criminals looking for a break in their own cases. They ended their portion of the trial after barely a day, calling just four witnesses.
Robreno dismissed jurors until Jan. 3, when they are scheduled to hear two days of closing arguments before starting deliberations.