Mobbing the mob

A federal body arrested 11 reputed organized crime figures, including a Packer Park resident.

By Joseph Myers
Add Comment Add Comment | Comments: 30 | Posted May. 26, 2011

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The FBI scooped up 11 alleged Mafia members Monday, with the biggest catch being suspected boss Joseph Ligambi.

The agency’s early morning swarm targeted southern New Jersey and South Philadelphia, the latter the site of Ligambi’s Packer Park home. The detained men joined two others already in federal custody and learned their names appeared in a 70-page indictment revealed later in the day.

The document’s 50 counts disclose their alleged participation in gambling operations involving illegal sports betting and video poker machines. The charges note Ligambi, 71, and his associates allegedly provided the mechanisms to bars, convenience stores and restaurants in and around Philadelphia, including several local establishments. Last year, a Pennsylvania Attorney General Office raid led to the seizure of 80 such devices.

The lengthy accusations make no mention of any homicides, referring only to allusions to threats of violence through intimidation. The lack of savage acts meshes with officials’ views of Ligambi as one who represented a new direction in the area’s local crime faction, one that revolved around big talk instead of action.

Investigators allege that Ligambi, who before a U.S. District Court hearing Monday pled not guilty to gambling, loan-sharking, racketeering conspiracy and witness intimidation, among other charges, began to head the Philadelphia mob after former head Joseph Merlino’s 2001 racketeering conviction. Ligambi served 10 years in prison for the murder of another reputed Mafia member, but a 1997 retrial led to his acquittal. His bail hearing is scheduled for today.

Contact Staff Writer Joseph Myers at or ext. 124.

Also in this week's Police Report:
Irreverent reverend
Bullet to the stomach
SEPTA scuffle
Honoring Blue

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Comments 1 - 30 of 30
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1. Joey Buttaffuco said... on May 27, 2011 at 07:07AM

“Leave the poor degos alone and go after those commie bastards!”

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2. Anonymous said... on May 27, 2011 at 09:00AM

“Perfect example of why this country and city is going down the drain. Instead of law enforcement going after real criminals - you the know the ones that tie up kids, starve them and torture them; they go after people who are gambling with their own money amongst themselves and only hurting themselves. Why do we care so much about the mob??”

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3. Michelle said... on May 28, 2011 at 09:36PM

“you know when the Mob was running Southphilly you did not have all the drugs and crime you have to day. The streets were clean ect.You have all the other gangs out there and killing our kids why not go after them. Like 6th st. park Look you cant even walk in there after dark kids find guns, drugs ect. O and what about 7th st the hookers and drugs and muggings people cant even get off the bus from work to go home with out hoping they dont get jumped. So as for the Mob they did good for the people of Philly and did there own thing. Think the FBI and the Goverment needs to stop with the Mob and Focus on the gangs that are doing harm to the commuity”

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4. peter said... on May 29, 2011 at 08:24AM

You are a moron. The law should go after all disobedient figures. Are you related to someone in the mob? Why are you defending criminals? Dumba$$!”

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5. Larry P. in Atlanta said... on May 29, 2011 at 11:47PM

“Michelle is right. I grew up in South Philly (24th & Morris) in the Forties and Fifties, and the local Mafia kept things straight. They didn't tolerate independent crime of any sort. And their own "crimes" consisted primarily of the numbers racket (which is Good and Legal now that the state runs the games), prostitution, bookie operations, and before that, booze running. All the things the people wanted but the State said were wrong and illegal. The Feds should stick to chasing real crime and quit trying to enforce their brand of morality.”

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6. peter said... on May 30, 2011 at 10:35AM

“With Larry P.'s comment, I now know at least one idiot lives in Atlanta.”

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7. Peter said... on May 30, 2011 at 08:39PM

“Joe C.,
You post your drivel so often so that I am starting to think the "c" you use stands for "crock of s--t." My point is that ALL lawbreakers need to go away. Wake up, you slobbering fool. Just because you and the mobsters likely share the same nationality does not mean you should be their lawyer.”

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8. Michelle said... on May 31, 2011 at 03:39AM

“Peter are you from South Philly? If you are as old as I am you would know how it was back in the day. Can you sit out all night with your friends and family and not have to look around you all the time. Our kids were safe are streets were clean. Are your kids safe here today? Is your street clean. As far as me being a moron or a dumb a$$ you realy should look at yourself befor you judge others. @ Larry and @ Joe C Thank you, You know where I am comming from”

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9. teetwo said... on May 31, 2011 at 12:05PM

“WOW .....don't we all feel safer. This arrest is a waste of tax payer dollars...whats the matter is the government upset that they don't have there hands in poker machine money or loans. At least these guys didn't get a government bailout. A$$HOLES!!!!”

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10. Joe C said... on May 31, 2011 at 05:05PM

“Hey Peter,
I do share the same nationality but most of the jack a**es that talk with the toney tough guy talk You know "yo cuz" and all that bs,Personally i can't stand.I'm speaking of the way it was when i was growing up.People felt safe.Do you walk through 5th and wolf park or up point breeze ave on sat night after 12 midnight.I seriously doubt it.And just because you probably have some half breeds in your family don't mean you gotta blow the whole hood.”

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11. bartonm5 said... on Jun 1, 2011 at 11:06AM

“The problem is the blacks and asians. Everything they touch goes to s***. I wish the city would just raise taxes to get them out. Or build a wall around Southwest and keep them in there.”

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12. Marie said... on Jun 1, 2011 at 12:39PM

“I personally agree, the city was much safer when the "mob" was "in charge". There was ALOT less violence!! You didnt have to worry about your children playing outside past 5pm and/or walking home from the bus if your on the night shift. The police DO need to crack down on the 7th street area. There is too many dealers, junkies, and hookers out, even during the day!!
I dont think it is ALL the blacks and asians fault that this city is turning to s***.”

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13. peter said... on Jun 1, 2011 at 01:21PM

“Michelle and Joe C.,

Yes, I am from South Philly. Michelle, as far as being able to sit out all night, yes, I can. You reminisce about a time where you felt safe because the mob intimidated people, just like the wimps today do. The only difference is that today's version does not kill people. Wake up to reality.

Joe C.,
I respect your not liking the "Yo Cuz" contingent of South Philly. No, I do not walk near your mentioned locations after midnight, but why would I walk anywhere after that time? Mostly anywhere one goes, that time period welcomes trouble.
No half-breeds make up my family, and I am not sure what you were attempting to do by suggesting some do. See my points to Michelle. You people need to realize the mob is a collection of wimps who would rather hurt people than live God-fearing lives. Grow a brain.

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14. Rob said... on Jun 1, 2011 at 02:49PM

“Any Italian neighborhood, whether it be South Philly, Brooklyn, Bronx etc., back in the day was safer with the local "mob" in charge of the streets. That's just the way it was, like it or not. If you were "involved" then you risk a chance of harm, otherwise most residents never came into contact with them.”

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15. Dottie said... on Jun 1, 2011 at 03:47PM

“I have one story to relate and I'm sure someone will make a comment about what I'm about to tell. A woman I knew over 40 years ago told me this story. She lived in an all Italian section of South Philly and said, on their corner was a hang out for "Mafia men". This woman's mother was a punching bag for her father who never gave it a thought about hitting her and hurting her. Well one day when her father was beating her mother, she ran outside to those men on the corner and begged them to help her mother. Those "Mafia men" felt so bad for this woman and knew she was being abused by her husband. So one night when the father went out for a walk,a couple of those men pulled him aside, put a gun to his head and told him, if you ever hit your wife again, we're going to blow your brains out. Needless to say, that man never hit that woman again. That's one good thing I have to say for those men.”

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16. Michelle said... on Jun 1, 2011 at 09:03PM

“@ Pete I was never intimidated by any mob member nor anyone else.It would be great if we can go back in time and live the way we did and you are not going to tell me today you feel safer living in shothphilly then you did when the mob ran the show. Sorry There is no way. There are more killings here today look it up.Some people have to work and come home after 12;00 am they are not asking for trouble and they live in the locations that Joe C said.Why is it all ways the Mob that the law is after why not the other mobs and gangs. Because they make a name for themselve they took down the big bad Italian mob. There are other mobs and gangs here that are on the rise think they realy need to look into them befor it is to late . I love South Philly just wish it was cleaner and safer for my grandkids to grow up in and see what a great place it realy is”

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17. M.S said... on Jun 2, 2011 at 01:57PM

“I do somewhat agree, that while the Mob are criminals, they aren't out there randomly shooting, robbing or killing people. To generalize a whole demographic such as "asians and blacks" is unfair. There's always a small pocket of trouble makers no matter what race or nationaility. I grew up in South Philly and I've seen it all and lived through the ever changing demographics. Look at all the business and development along Washington Ave brought by the Asians. The Mexicans have since also started to move in, and the diversity is welcomed just as long as they all remain civil. Going after the mob won't make South Philly any better or any safer. Get those thugs and drug dealers off our corners instead!”

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18. Peter said... on Jun 4, 2011 at 09:12PM

“Stop defending the mob because they are Italians! They are murderers. What you people fail to realize is that the mobsters are no better as human beings than the blacks and Asians some of you are slamming. Wake the hell up!”

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19. Dottie said... on Jun 5, 2011 at 10:55AM

“Peter, you are 100% right. The ONLY reason I related MY story was because that was, what I thought of as being one way of stopping a man from possibly beating his poor wife to death and it worked. Other than that, I know Mafia types murder people. And I am not Italian and even if I were, I wouldn't defend anyone who was a murderer and that includes the many other cultures that are a part of the downfall of this City. But in hindsight one particular culture is certainly a major cause of the murders in this City that are happening on a daily basis. I seldom have hard of Mafia people killing on a daily basis. I think that is what some of these posters are trying to relate.”

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20. Dottie said... on Jun 5, 2011 at 11:11AM

“Oops, I mean heard, not hard.”

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21. joe c said... on Jun 7, 2011 at 05:14PM

“Your right they are murderers but they go after people who are involved in their lifestyle.Not the working man/woman coming home late hours and getting who is getting robbed or killed because they see a person walking through the hood.I'm not saying they are model citizens but they don't hurt others like the hommies”

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22. Mark said... on Jun 30, 2011 at 11:56AM

“" I will agree with some of the comments" .. Crime wasn't as high back then for a few reasons. The population was smaller. The city had more funded summer programs, etc...... Times have changed... The Mob presence ( while hanging out on corners ) did deter some crimes , and violence against innocent people. I have a little story to tell. Myself , and a group of friends up to 10 at times hung out on a corner in south philly. There was a bar 2 blocks away , and the drunks would walk by our corner every night. Some of the neighbors called the cops a few times, and asked us to leave the corner. So we did.. I ran into an older lady later in the year , and she said a few months after we stopped hanging on the corner cars were getting broke into , and houses were being robbed. It wasn't the Mob presence on the corner.that detered crime. It was Just me , and my friends. 75% italian / 20 % Irish / 5% Greek.....”

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23. Lisa said... on Sep 1, 2011 at 06:42PM

“I also agree with some of the comments. I do not think any kind of crime should be tolerated, however, I must say, living in South Phila. my enitre life, I did feel safer with the wise guys hanging on the corners. My friend and I were about 12 years old walking home from school one day and a bunch of kids from a public school (won't mention the race) started chasing us and were going to rob us. Luckily, hanging on the corner were two mob members and started chasing them the other way and we were able to get home safely. It's tru that there was a lot less crime on the street when they were around.”

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24. Anonymous said... on Sep 14, 2011 at 06:33PM

“italians need to come back together and marry italians help each other again we were a great people the old timers made it great for us and lets not hurt our brothers and sisters take care dino”

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25. jr said... on Jan 12, 2012 at 10:59PM

“been away 10 years this place is a discrace dirtbals scum bags trash everywhere pizza by mexicans asians just straight lowlifes somebody needs to stop this i was born here but grew up nj i wood come kick it on the corner you couldnt even throw trash on ground the old guys need to come back is it even possible to make this place right you guys should go back to your badlands and west get the f out”

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26. larry said... on Aug 7, 2012 at 09:57AM

“jr said... on Jan 12, 2012 at 10:59PM
“been away 10 years this place is a discrace dirtbals scum bags trash everywhere pizza by mexicans asians just straight lowlifes somebody needs to stop this i was born here but grew up nj i wood come kick it on the corner you couldnt even throw trash on ground the old guys need to come back is it even possible to make this place right you guys should go back to your badlands and west get the f out”

jr....Punctuation is cool. Read up on it.”

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27. G said... on Jan 8, 2013 at 09:05PM

“lol mob they do nothing for the people they never helped anyone but themselves, they feed off their friends who do illegal things, they protect no one nor did they ever protect neighborhoods, if they did that back then why arent they doing it now, CORNER GANGS protected the older people and kids from any outsiders who didnt belong in the neighborhood, 2J4 1M5 9Wolf 10th Oregon 9th Mooris Southern and a million other corners, those gangs are what kept neighborhoods safe not the mob lol”

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28. Anonymous said... on Jan 8, 2013 at 09:09PM

“and one more thing that everyone is forgetting THE POLICE when they had backing from their higher ups, they protected the people from crime, no one ever shot a cop or would have even thought about it lol u got to be kidding me the mob and yes i am Italian”

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29. Kyle said... on Mar 18, 2013 at 12:22PM

“Regardless of how you feel about the safety of your neighborhood during the era when the Mob ran the show, it would be wrong to ignore the violence and terror of the Scarfo years, when mothers crying on television about knowing the men that killed their sons and nobody doing anything about it was a monthly occurrence for a while. These people kept crime down because they were so sick and ruthless, no other criminal group wanted anything to do with them. Their presence guaranteed corruption in both the police department and the labor industry for as long as they were around. The favors and benefits residents feel is basically just good PR. And while it is also true that as of late, the violence has been kept to a minimum and the activities have been limited to the less glamorous poker machine/loansharking business, I firmly believe that given the opportunity, the remnants of the Philly Mob can and will become more powerful and eventually fall back into the same cycle as before.”

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30. Anonymous said... on Jul 3, 2013 at 05:12PM

“free UNCLE JOE”


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