"Uncle Joe" in Limbo After Two Jurors Deadlock Panel of 12

Gorgeous George: Capo Borgesi, 50, leaves court Friday with
his wife. He'd been imprisoned since 2000.
In what crime writer George Anastasia called "a stunning rebuke of the government's case," the Ligambi jury acquitted Philly capo George Borgesi, 50, of racketeering conspiracy. The Philadelphia mob's former consigliere was released that same day, Friday, Jan. 24.

Also acquitted, but only of one out of four charges, was mob boss Joe Ligambi, whom the jury found not guilty of witness tampering but remained deadlocked on the three other counts (all specific to Ligambi, leaving him open to possible retrial).

One potential mitigating factor that may offset prosecutors' zeal for a third trial is the fact that the panel of 12 voted 10 to 2 to acquit Ligambi of the remaining three charges: a conspiracy charge and two gambling charges.

The indictment has been widely derided by some courtroom observers for lacking any charges related to violence and murder - the usual linchpin for indicting a mobster.

However, prosecutors charge, Ligambi and Borgesi used the mob's historical reputation for violence to enrich themselves via loan-sharking and gambling rackets.

Ligambi, they argued, assumed control of the local video-poker market, while Borgesi managed his own gambling interests from a prison cell by ordering others to pass his cut of mob proceeds to his wife.

The defense said that the mob led by Ligambi was nothing like the previous groups that held sway over the city, and in fact were mostly retired gangsters reminiscing about the old days.

"The nearly total rejection of the government's case came at the end of a retrial that had begun in November. The trial focused on five counts that remained after an earlier jury had acquitted Borgesi and Ligambi of a series of charges tied to gambling and loansharking," Anastasia wrote.

Ligambi's lawyer will seek bail for the 74-year-old mobster, known as "Uncle Joe," who has been held behind bars since his indictment back in May 2011. Borgesi, who is Ligambi's nephew, had been in jail since his arrest in an unrelated racketeering case in March 2000; he was ultimately sentenced to 14 years.

Ligambi had been found not guilty of five of the nine counts he faced in the first trial, which ended last February.

In addition to filing a motion for bail, the lawyer is expected to request a swift decision regarding whether Ligambi will need to face a third jury.

That is for the Justice Department in Washington to decide, said Assistant U.S. Attorney Frank Labor, the lead prosecutor in the case.

As for the 14 defendants named in the original indictment, 10 have been convicted or plead guilty. Joseph "Scoops" Licata and Borgesi,were acquitted. One defendent is still awaiting trial.

Ligambi, as Anastasia noted, is in "limbo."