Updated news on the Gambino, Genovese, Bonanno, Lucchese and Colombo Organized Crime Families of New York City.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Son of mob boss argues he's being held unfairly

Nicodemo "Junior" Scarfo will not be allowed out of prison on bail while he awaits trial in a financial crimes case, a federal judge ruled Monday.
Scarfo, the son of imprisoned former Philadelphia-south Jersey mob boss Nicodemo "Little Nicky" Scarfo, tried to make a case to a judge on Monday that he's being treated unfairly because of his name and is neither a risk of flight nor a danger to the community and should be allowed to post bail and go home.
U.S. District Judge Robert Kugler found that Scarfo is a danger to the community because the 46-year-old has had nearly continuous involvement in the criminal justice system over the last 24 years.
Scarfo was arrested last month on charges that he and other reputed mob figures took over FirstPlus, an Irving, Texas-based mortgage company, and drained it of $12 million in assets through their salaries and purchases, including a luxury yacht called "Priceless," a $217,000 Bentley and a private plane.
His lawyer, Michael Riley, argued in court filings last week and in the courtroom on Monday that the government was trying to link Scarfo to the sins of his father.
"There are some of us who go through life maybe benefiting from our family's name and reputation," Riley told Kugler on Monday. "There are others that are hurt."
He argued that his client was in the latter group. He said that there's no evidence he engaged in criminal activity after May 2008, when authorities conducted searches related to their FirstPlus investigation, tipping off the alleged schemers that they were being watched. And he said that the case should not be seen as a matter of organized crime but rather a white-collar crime.
Federal prosecutors, however, said that the alleged scheme relied upon the reputation of Scarfo's ruthless father , and that he benefited as a higher-up in the Mafia.
Justice Department lawyer Lisa Page pointed to some of the 7,500 recorded phone calls that are part of evidence, saying they show an associate making threats on Scarfo's behalf.
She also said he drew $33,000 per month from the scheme though he did not make much of an effort.
"The reason he was able to do virtually no work and get 33 grand per month is because of his name," Page said.
Prosecutors also said that Scarfo launched the FirstPlus plan while he was in home confinement following another conviction.
Eleven co-defendants in the case, including Scarfo's wife, four lawyers and an accountant, are free on bail. Only Scarfo and Salvatore Pelullo remain held.
Monday's hearing shed light on some of the practical difficulties of being an alleged mobster.
Scarfo is in the federal detention center in Philadelphia. Authorities say he's in protective custody there because the facility also houses five members of a La Costra Nostra group that tried to kill him.
But Riley said the special confinement makes it hard for him to have access to his client to prepare for trial, a daunting task that involves going through more than 1 million pages of documents.
Kugler said he would not object if Scarfo wanted to be moved into the general population of the prison , but warned him that he could face dangers.
Scarfo said he understood the risks.
"I want to be in general population. I don't share the same concerns about my safety that the government shares," he told Kugler. "I just don't feel like my life's in danger."



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