Mob Hit Goes Down as Feds Rest in Ligambi Trial

Joseph "Uncle Joe" Ligambi is on trial for a host
of charges, not one of them murder.
Police in South Philly are investigating what could be the mob-sanctioned shooting murder of a 50-year-old man, which occurred hours after prosecutors rested their case in the trial of reputed Mafia boss Joseph "Uncle Joe" Ligambi.

Anthony Nicodemo, 41, a reputed mob soldier, was under questioning by police, who are also moving to obtain a search warrant for his home.

According to Philly.com, a woman from the neighborhood heard five gunshots around 3 p.m., which is about when Gino DiPietro was repeatedly shot in the back while entering his truck in what looks like an ambush. He died of his wounds.

"He was in out and out trouble. He'd been in jail for drugs," a neighbor of the murdered man told the newspaper about DiPietro.

Nicodemo pleaded guilty in 2009 to helping operate a bookmaking ring inside Atlantic City's Borgata Hotel Casino.

Since mid-October, Ligambi and several of his high-level associates have been on trial for a host of nonviolent charges, including loan-sharking, extortion and illegal gambling. Since murder was not among the charges, the DiPietro killing, if it is a mob hit, may have happened at the worst time possible for the defendants. 

It is possible the shooting could have an impact on the trial, especially of Nicodemo is charged with the crime, although law enforcement officials have reportedly said DiPietro could've been whacked by non-Mafia-related drug dealers.

As the defense prepares to put on its case next week, this week's focus had to do with payments to Ligambi from Top Job Disposal. (The trial is in recess for the rest of this week.)

A secretary testified that Ligambi came in every week for a $1,000 paycheck; Ligambi also received Teamsters health and retirement benefits. "Yet she said he was the company’s only salesman, and she never knew him to bring in any new business," reports the Daily Local News.

Ligambi was defrauding the Teamsters’ health and pension fund, prosecutors alleged.

In cross-examination by defense lawyer Ed Jacobs, former company manager Charles Piacentino disagreed with the secretary, saying that Ligambi had gotten Top Job a number of customers in recent years.

"However, he said he was not sure how the company had gotten one of its biggest contracts, a 10-year, nearly $18,000-a-week job to pick up trash at a produce distribution center in South Philadelphia," the Daily Local News reports.

But Piacentino also acknowledged that Ligambi did not "fight him" when Piacentino was faced with the unlucky task of having to fire the reputed mob boss of Philadelphia about a year ago, shortly before the firm went out of business.

To stay on schedule, the defense would have until the Dec. 22 holiday break to present its case, with closing arguments expected to resound in the courtroom in early January, the newspaper reports. Although the impact of the shooting Wednesday, as noted, may put the monkey in the wrench for the proceedings.

Ligambi is alleged to have run the Philadelphia mob for the past decade, since former boss Joey Merlino went to prison in an earlier mob racketeering case. During the reign of Merlino and, before him, Nicodemo Scarfo, there was wanton violence in the streets of gangland Philly, compared with the relatively peaceful Ligambi regime, a point that the defense has been hammering at, highlighting the lack of any type of violence in the charges.

Merlino's mother has been among the dozen Ligambi supporters in the courtroom, the newspaper reported. 

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