The son of an alleged former Kansas City mob boss made an initial appearance in court Wednesday on a charge of being a drug user illegally in possession of a firearm.
Disheveled and unkempt, Nicholas A. Civella, 59, said little as he borrowed a pair of reading glasses from the stash that U.S. Magistrate Judge Robert Larsen keeps for defendants who get to court without them. The charges on the table before Civella alleged that on Feb. 22, 2012, he possessed both a 9 mm pistol and methamphetamine.
Civella is the son of Anthony Civella, who, authorities said, led the Kansas City organized crime outfit following the death of his uncle, Nick Civella, and the imprisonment of his father, Carl Civella. Anthony Civella died in February 2006.
Nicholas Civella asked Larsen to appoint a lawyer to represent him, saying that he was unemployed and on disability.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Paul Becker did not explain at the hearing why prosecutors had waited almost a year to bring charges against Civella. Becker did, however, caution the court about appointing a defense lawyer to represent Civella from those attorneys involved in a related federal methamphetamine case.
Records in the federal case against Gunner M. Peterson, Emlee S. King and Trisha S. Dunham show that about the time Civella purportedly was found with the pistol and the drugs, authorities were wrapping up an investigation into a Northland meth trafficking operation.
King and Dunham have pleaded guilty in that case, while Peterson is set for trial in March.
Prosecutors asked Larsen to jail Civella pending trial, and the judge set a detention hearing for Monday. Civella has not been charged in federal court before. In 2004, he pleaded guilty in Clay County to misdemeanor assault and successfully served six months of probation.