Martin "Marty" Angelina, 50, admitted Wednesday that he operated illegal poker machines and used extortionist tactics to collect a $6,700 debt. He faces about five years in prison under a plea agreement, defense lawyer Jack McMahon said.
The indictment describes Angelina, who has served several stints in prison, as a "capo," or lieutenant, of "Uncle Joe" Ligambi.
"I'm not going to agree that he's anything like that. To me, he's just somebody that got involved with some gambling and some debts," McMahon said. "I think they (federal prosecutors) watch 'The Sopranos' too many times."
Last year's indictment paints a picture of Philadelphia La Cosa Nostra under Ligambi as a group more focused on money than murder. Members for the past decade oversaw video poker and slot machines at bars, restaurants and private clubs, and engaged in racketeering and loansharking, prosecutors charged.
In stark contrast to the bloodshed that spilled from the Philadelphia mob a generation ago, the Ligambi indictment involves mostly threatened violence. The government used wiretaps, surveillance, informants, cooperating witnesses and search warrants to build their case, according to court documents.
Ligambi, alleged underboss Joseph Massimino and seven others are set for trial in October. The government wants to shield the names of jurors from both the defendants and their lawyers, and take other unusual security measures during the four-month trial. A hearing on such pretrial issues is set for Thursday.
Three additional co-defendants are not yet scheduled for trial.
The plea deal does not call for Angelina to testify against his associates.
Angelina ran poker machines at the First Ward Republican Club in South Philadelphia, where he lives, and helped an underling try to collect the four-figure loan, an amount McMahon called "small potatoes." He pleaded guilty to racketeering, gambling and extortion charges. He had served 6 1/2 years in prison for a 2001 federal racketeering conviction.
Angelina hopes to be sentenced next month, McMahon said, although a judge Wednesday set his sentencing for Dec. 3. He has been in prison since his arrest in May 2011.
Another defendant, Gaeton Lucibello, pleaded guilty to racketeering conspiracy charges last week.