Law Enforcement Officials Call Scarfo Conviction Blow to Organized Crime
PHILADELPHIA (AP) _ Reputed crime boss Nicodemo ″Little Nicky″ Scarfo’s conviction on conspiracy and extortion charges spells the beginning of the end of the Philadelphia-New Jersey mob, officials say.
A federal court jury convicted Scarfo on Wednesday of conspiring to extort $1 million from a waterfront developer. Scarfo, previously convicted of involuntary manslaughter in a shooting and possession of a firearm while on parole, faces a maximum sentence of 40 years in jail and a $500,000 fine.
U.S. Attorney Edward Dennis Jr., after prosecuting his first courtroom case in six years, said ″the verdict means the members of the mob, the La Cosa Nostra, are not beyond the reaches of the law.″
″More significantly it shows that ex-gangsters who have become government informants - and two of them were key to our case - are viable witnesses who can be believed,″ he said.″
Wayne Davis, in charge of the Philadelphia FBI office, said, ″Scarfo’s crime apparatus has been successfully attacked, and this is the beginning of the end of this group.″
Scarfo has also been indicted on murder and racketeering charges in Trenton, N.J., and Philadelphia and is expected to be tried on those charges later this year.
Nicholas ″Nicky Crow″ Caramandi and Thomas ″Tommy Del″ DelGiorno, two former members of the mob who claimed Scarfo personally inducted them into the Mafia, were the chief witnesses against him in the latest case and are expected to testify for the prosecution in the murder trial.
Caramandi and DelGiorno have pleaded guilty to murders and other crimes.
Scarfo, 58, of Atlantic City, N.J., showed no emotion at the verdict Wednesday. His attorney, Robert Simone, said he will appeal.
Simone said he believed his client ″was perceived by the jury as a mob boss.″
″There is an apparent governmental conspiracy against people they perceive as organized crime leaders,″ Simone said.
Scarfo was indicted here last November with Philadelphia Councilman Leland Beloff and Beloff’s aide, Robert Rego, in connection with the unsuccessful shakedown of developer Willard Rouse III, who also heads the city’s celebration of the U.S. Constitution’s bicentennial.
Rouse needed Beloff’s help to get legislation introduced in the City Council that would help him start a $700 million project on the Delaware River waterfront.
The government alleged that Caramandi, acting on Scarfo’s orders and with the cooperation of Beloff and Rego, demanded $1 million for the councilman’s help, and when the cash wasn’t paid, the legislation was withdrawn.
After the indictment, the council bypassed Beloff, who represents the district where the project is located, and passed the bills.
Beloff and Rego were tried in April, but the jury couldn’t reach a verdict on the Rouse matter and Dennis said they would be retried later this month.
Caramandi and DelGiorno said Simone knew about the extortion plot and even carried messages on how the bribe was to be split.
Because of that, Simone was not allowed to cross-examine the two or even challenge their credibility.
″We’re looking at the evidence against Simone and we are going to evaluate it,″ Dennis said. ″I will definitely notify the judicial licensing board. There is a definite question of ethics here.″
Said Simone, ″They have no evidence against me. If they indict me it will give me a chance to prove my innocence.″