Potential Philadelphia Connection to East Coast LCN Case Never Pursued

When, precisely, did the FBI's New York Field Office realize that it was screwed?

We refer here to the seemingly immense East Coast LCN Enterprise case, the investigation that resulted in last August's indictment of 46 mobsters, including mobsters from four of New York's five Mafia families and the alleged boss of the Philadelphia mob (who lives in Florida).
George Borgesi with his hot younger wife.

(NOTE: Reputed Philadelphia boss Joseph (Skinny Joey) Merlino is the only alleged "East Coast LCN crime syndicate" member from the Philadelphia Cosa Nostra.)

The answer to that question may shed light on a possible alternative reason for why the Fed's in New York were reluctant to share information with offices in Philadelphia and Florida. The word has been that New York's Southern District was too greedy and didn't want to share the credit on what certainly appeared to be a large, sprawling Mafia case.

Unless, of course, the Feds knew that said case had been mismanaged, poisoned, and due to crash headlong into the rocks to the extent that none of the alleged mobsters in the indictment likely will serve anywhere near the decades-long prison sentences bandied about in news reports when the bust went down last August.

From the very beginning, there was a large degree of ambiguity about this case.

As we noted in a previous story, Philly Connection to "East Coast" Case? (And What's Compound Cream, Anyway?)

There's much that is unclear about this indictment; there is a lack of violence. There's no mention of drug dealing; hard drugs, anyway... The indictment seems almost farcically comical on its face...

One has to wonder if there's more than meets the eye going on here...or less?

Edwin Jacobs, Merlino’s longtime attorney, addressed some of this indictment's weirdness, as we noted previously. Noting he was "puzzled" by the indictment, Jacobs went on: “All I can tell you at this point is, I’ve seen a lot of racketeering indictments, and they’re usually fact- and date-specific. This one is not. It’s also very short on any allegations of violence, which most prosecutors claim is the foundation of organized crime. You read this indictment, and you don’t find so much as a single cinder block.”

 The article notes that Jacobs said that "the indictment was too broad and general to draw any conclusions about what it could ultimately mean for Merlino’s future.

“Many times when you read these indictments, it’s sort of a script for the trial. This is not even an outline. It names a lot of people, and a lot of criminal statutes … but there’s not much meat on these bones.”

We raise these questions now because, following publication today of new information about the case, it seems the FBI in Philadelphia had a major opportunity to incorporate members of Philadelphia's Cosa Nostra into the East Coast LCN Enterprise indictment of 46 wiseguys from all Five Families, plus Philadelphia's reputed boss, who lives in Florida.

 “All I can tell you at this point is, I’ve seen a lot of racketeering indictments, and they’re usually fact- and date-specific. This one is not. It’s also very short on any allegations of violence, which most prosecutors claim is the foundation of organized crime. You read this indictment, and you don’t find so much as a single cinder block.”

Gang Land News report today noted that George Borgesi, a major player in the Philadelphia Mafia, met with a Genovese capo to iron out problems last year.

So said one of the indicted mobsters to turncoat John (J.R.) Rubeo Jr. 

The undercover FBI agent who also worked the case was given a "no show" job at a construction safety management firm, one of the "perks" of being an up-and-coming mob associate. Specifically, "Jeffrey Cassano" was given the job at The Safety Group Ltd., which has offices in Manhattan and Philadelphia.

As per GLN, "Last year, a few months before the (indictment) sources say Genovese capo Pasquale (Patsy) Parrello drove to Philadelphia in an effort to resolve a few problems that The Safety Group was having with the Philadelphia crime family regarding its scheduled grand opening ...."

"In one of the last tape-recorded conversations in the five-year-long probe, longtime Parrello associate Israel (Buddy) Torres informed the FBI, through the wired-up Rubeo, that he had accompanied Parrello to the city of Brotherly Love but that Parrello had ironed out the problems in a private talk with top Philadelphia wiseguy George Borgesi."

"I don't even know what they said," Torres told Rubeo, as per "a reliable Gang Land source."

Though Mr. Capeci doesn't acknowledge this, we hope we're not going out on a limb by stating that such a meeting would seem to pose a major opportunity to ensnare Borgesi and God-knows-who-else from Philly into the indictment.

George Anastasia, writing Gangland News last September, noted that "in a strange twist ... federal authorities in New York who hit Skinny Joey last month with racketeering charges that carry up to 20 years in prison seem to have done a much bigger favor for Merlino's Philadelphia mob crew."

In a 2016 report for PhillyVoice, Anastasia noted the U.S. Attorney’s Offices in Philadelphia and Miami, which initially had planned to add others to the indictment handed down by New York's Southern District, decided not to indict any Philadelphia Cosa Nostra members or associates because Southern District of New York (SDNY) prosecutors apparently didn't share evidence until too late.

Only "after the indictment was unsealed and arrests were made last month" did SDNY prosecutors provide their counterparts in Philadelphia with the evidence, according to Anastasia's Philadelphia law enforcement sources.

As Anastasia noted:

"That's why it's known as the Sovereign District of New York," one Philadelphia law enforcement source said icily. "They don't play by the rules."

The view from Philadelphia, he and others said, is that the investigation that netted Merlino could have had a much greater impact on mob activity in Philadelphia and South Jersey. The fact that it won't, he added, is an example of how organized crime occasionally gets a boost from disorganized law enforcement.

It was six months before the August bust last year that Anastasia reported on BigTrial that Philadelphia is seeing a "resurgence of the local crime family. So many guys are back in the City of Brotherly Love, that it seems a growing hankering for a place where old friends could gather and talk over an espresso with a modicum of privacy led to the opening of a bona fide Mafia social club. Among the joint's habitues: Joseph "Uncle Joe" Ligambi, his nephew, Borgesi, and others -- all of whom "are frequently spotted" going to the clubhouse, located at 11th and Jackson Streets.

Borgesi and others worked their way into a new business venture related to the construction and home rehab sectors, even opening a Passyunk Avenue office.

"It's all legit," said one such source with knowledge of the new business ventures. "They're not doing anything wrong."

Yet, as Anastasia noted: "It has not been lost on law enforcement... that the ventures into home rehab, construction and mortgage refinancing are exactly what mob informants Louis "Bent Finger Lou" Monacello and Anthony Aponick testified about at Borgesi's last two racketeering trials."

Problematic Case

Rubeo wore a wire against many defendants in the case, including the two alleged highest-ranking ones, Pasquale (Patsy) Parrello and Merlino.

The Feds already dropped the indictment's top charges and have pushed for plea deals, which many of the alleged mobsters have taken, copping pleas to substantive crimes, such as gambling, extortion, and health care fraud.

What sank the case were revelations about certain FBI agents, as well as the turncoat Rubeo.

According to a March 8 government discovery letter to defense lawyers, there were seven areas of potential wrongdoing by FBI agents. The agents aren't named in the letter, but Jerry Capeci learned their identities and named them in news stories.

The letter also included information about Rubeo, specifically, that prosecutors "first learned in November that Rubeo "had conducted a factory reset of the cellphone in or about August of 2016" and that the last time the phone had "been imaged by the FBI" was on July 31, 2015. Between that date, and last August, the prosecutors wrote, many of the lost "calls and text messages were captured by the FBI on a computer system that records calls and messages" but "some communications between (Rubeo) and certain defendants may not have been preserved."

Merlino is going to trial; he's currently out on bail. The trial was set for September but was pushed back to January 15.

Onofrio and four other defendants are still awaiting pending charges -- though, GLN reported that sources expect these cases "to be resolved before the now-adjourned trial date."


  1. It'd be moronic to say I'm going to stop using GLN for stories. However I'm going to limit the info I use and provide attribution at all times.

  2. A major point I didn't make yet -- it may have been incompetence rather than sovereignty that caused NYC to blow off other offices and agencies

    1. When it comes to the US Government or any Government really, incompetence is usually the correct assumption. Allie Shades


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