In 2007, retiring Philadelphia federal organized crime prosecutor Barry Gross declared, “We defeated the mob.” Did yesterday’s sweeping indictment against reputed mob boss Joseph “Uncle Joe” Ligambi and 12 alleged associates prove Gross wrong? asks the Philadelphia Daily News. The newspaper says the Philadelphia faction of La Cosa Nostra is a shadow of its former self, eclipsed by the more sophisticated and creative Russian mafia and other underworld groups that profit from vice and scams.
The gambling, loan-sharking, and extortion indictment is a 70-page snoozer that includes activity that’s more than a decade old. “These guys just don’t have the smarts for it,” said Stephen LaPenta, a retired Philadelphia police lieutenant and organized-crime investigator. “They’ve reduced themselves to panhandlers.” The charges do not include a single mob murder. Just threats, although law-enforcement sources said there could be more charges coming. “It’s really benign, in terms of acts of violence,” said defense attorney Christopher Warren, who has represented Philly mobsters. “What the government accuses them of doing – gambling – is now being done by states to reduce their deficits.”