The pending racketeering retrial for reputed Philadelphia mob boss Joseph “Uncle Joe” Ligambi looks less and less likely to resemble the seven-defendant, four-month marathon that was its predecessor.
On Thursday, a second codefendant in the case signaled his intention to plead guilty and skip a trial. Robert Ranieri is scheduled to plead guilty on June 13 before U.S. District Judge Eduardo Robreno, court records show. His plea would follow one last month by Anthony “Ant” Staino, a reputed captain who was slated to be retried after a mixed verdict in February that included a deadlock on 11 counts.
That leaves only Ligambi, his nephew and alleged capo, George “Georgie” Borgesi, and reputed soldier Eric Esposito in queue for the Oct. 15 retrial.
And Ligambi’s lawyers this week filed a motion asking the judge to limit the scope of the retrial, preventing prosecutors from introducing evidence related to the five counts of loan-sharking, theft and bookmaking of jurors said weren’t proven. That leaves just four other charges, including the racketeering conspiracy count at the heart of the scheme. A similar argument is undoubtedly likely to come from Borgesi who was acquitted in 13 of 14 charges against him. Prosecutors have yet to reply.
The faces at the defense table will be changing slightly. Borgesi’s court-appointed lawyer, Paul Hetznecker, has dropped out because of a scheduling conflict, and the judge approved Christopher Warren as his replacement. At the first trial, Warren represented Joseph “Scoops” Licata, the only defendant to be acquitted outright.
Ligambi’s lawyer isn’t changing, but his paycheck might. Last month, Robreno approved an application by the lawyer, Edwin Jacobs, to become a court-appointed counsel, which means the taxpayers will foot his bill. “My client went broke,” Jacobs explained last week, “and I didn’t want to walk away from him.”