The Last Mouthpiece

The old bosses have been sent to the big house, and Skinny Joey’s most serious (recent) charge is ... drunk driving. For Joe Santaguida, defending “alleged” mobsters isn’t what it used to be

So God bless the drug dealers and all the other unorganized criminals, for without them, the city’s defense bar would be out of business. Actually, Santaguida’s portrayal of how defendants (and their attorneys) fare in federal court was overly grim, at least in the case of his client, young Raymond Martorano. A week after the two-day trial, U.S. District Court Judge Anita Brody ruled in favor of Santaguida’s motion and dismissed all the charges.

"It’s fun to go up against him," says Assistant U.S. Attorney Andrea Foulkes, his losing opponent in the case. "Joe’s a very down-to-earth, no-nonsense kind of guy. He’s also a colorful fellow-he’s entertaining in a courtroom. And I enjoy the challenge of trying to defuse that. You have to, because people are drawn to entertaining ways of getting information. What we prosecutors do tends to be pretty solemn. And given a choice between solemn and entertaining, which would you choose?

Flashback to the federal courthouse, day one of Raymond Martorano’s drug trial. A lunch break has been called. On his way out of the building, Santaguida spots an IRS investigator from a case in which two of his had property seized.

"Hey!" he calls out to the agent across the crowded lobby. "Anthony still wants his papers back!" Joe Santaguida doesn’t really need a black hat to get noticed. "And Rocco wants his guns!"