Case Against Scarfo Goes To The Jury
May. 06, 1987
PHILADELPHIA (AP) _ Nicodemo ''Little Nicky'' Scarfo is ''a dangerous man who rules his deadly army with an iron fist,'' the U.S. Attorney said Tuesday in closing the government's $1 million extortion-conspiracy case against the reputed mob boss.
After closing arguments and instructions from U.S. District Judge John Fullam, the jury deliberated for two hours before adjourning for the night. Deliberations are scheduled to resume Wednesday morning.
The defense contended the two chief prosecution witnesses, both admitted murderers who said they were inducted into the Mafia by Scarfo, were liars ''trying to save their skins from the death penalty by implicating Mr. Scarfo.''
U.S. Attorney Edward G. Dennis Jr. demanded a guilty verdict for Scarfo, 58, on a charge he conspired with a city councilman in an unsuccessful shakedown of waterfront developer Willard Rouse III.
''Take the cover off the den of spiders,'' Dennis asked the jury of nine men and three women. ''This is no fantasy. This is the worst nightmare. Convict Nicky Scarfo. Justice demands his conviction.''
The panel began deliberating Tuesday after closing arguments and instructions from U.S. District Judge John Fullam.
Defense attorneys Robert Simone and Miles Feinstein said the government offered no direct evidence, no documents or tape recordings, that tied Scarfo to the alleged extortion.
''You can be sure that if there was one tape pertaining to Mr. Scarfo you would have heard it in court,'' Feinstein said.
Testifying against Scarfo, reputed head of organized crime in Philadelphia and southern New Jersey, were former mob members Nicholas ''Nicky Crow'' Caramandi and Thomas ''Tommy Del'' DelGiorno. They linked Scarfo to the extortion, and said he even authorized how the bribe would be split.
''This whole case is a frameup,'' Simone said in his closing statement.
''What corroboration does the prosecutor offer for Caramandi, a murderer, a con man, an extortionist, a liar, a perjurer, a plea bargainer?'' asked Feinstein. ''It offers DelGiorno, a murderer, a con man, an extortionist, a liar, a perjurer, a plea bargainer.''
Caramandi, whom Dennis described as the front man for the alleged shakedown plot, and DelGiorno became government informants and were promised a maximum of 20 years in jail and a $250,000 fine in racketeering and conspiracy cases.
Caramandi also had testified he feared for his life. He had said that after his arrest in October he learned he was a target for death and immediately called the FBI.
Dennis acknowledged his two main witnesses ''are scary people but what scares me more is that they are not the only ones,' and he pointed to Scarfo.
Specifically, Scarfo is accused of conspiring with Councilman Leland Beloff and his chief aide, Robert Rego, to extort $1 million from Rouse in exchange for legislation needed to launch a multimillion-dollar development at Penn's Landing along the Delaware River.
Beloff and Rego's trial ended in a hung jury. They'll be retried.
Dennis agreed that Caramandi and DelGiorno, while associates of Scarfo, ''were vicious men spinning an insidious web.'
Then, turning slightly to face the defendant, the prosecutor said:
''Nicky Scarfo is a clever and dangerous man who rules his deadly army with an iron fist. These are violent and greedy men who stop at nothing to get a dirty buck.''
Both sides rested their cases Monday after calling 30 witnesses in the 10- day trial.
Scarfo declined to take the witness stand, telling the judge he was remaining silent on the advice of his lawyer.