Former mob boss found not guilty murder retrial
Feb. 21, 1997
PHILADELPHIA (AP) _ Former Mafia kingpin Nicodemo ``Little Nicky'' Scarfo was acquitted on Thursday of ordering the killing of a bookie who did not pay him the proper respect. It was his second trial in the 12-year-old slaying.
A jury took just two hours Thursday, including a lunch break, to acquit Scarfo and five co-defendants of the 1985 murder of Frank ``Frankie Flowers'' D'Alfonso, who had refused to pay a percentage on his bookmaking proceeds.
The verdicts came nearly eight years after the defendants' original convictions, which were overturned in 1992. The appellate court cited misconduct by prosecutors and errors by the presiding judge.
The verdict is expected to have little effect on Scarfo, whose reign over the mob in Philadelphia and southern New Jersey ended with 14- and 55-year federal sentences for conspiracy and racketeering convictions.
Most of the other defendants also are serving lengthy prison sentences. Only Joseph Ligambi, serving a three-year sentence on federal gambling charges, has the possibility of an early release.
The defendants were given life sentences after their initial convictions and faced similar sentences in the retrial.
``Thank God for an honest jury,'' said Joseph ``Skinny Joey'' Merlino, the son of one defendant and, according to authorities, the mob's current underboss in Philadelphia.
D'Alfonso's family was also a constant presence in the special courtroom, where bulletproof glass separated the spectators from the court. After the verdicts were read, D'Alfonso's weeping relatives left the courtroom.