The son of a Philadelphia mob boss infamous for his violent reign was indicted today for a bloodless, white collar crime: a scheme to defraud a Texas financial firm out of $12 million.
Nicky Scarfo Jr., 46, the son of one-time Philly mafia boss "Little Nicky" Scarfo, was arrested in New Jersey after a three-year FBI investigation of an alleged plot to siphon millions out of FirstPlus Financial Group. Scarfo Jr., also known as Junior, Nick Promo, and Mr. Apple, was one of more than a dozen individuals named in the indictment, along with his wife, alleged Lucchese family mob associate Sal Pelullo, as well as officials of FirstPlus.
Scarfo's father "Little Nicky" and fellow boss Vittorio Amuso were named as unindicted coconspirators in the plot. Both men are already serving long sentences in an Atlanta federal penitentiary.
According to prosecutors, Scarfo Jr. "devised a plan to take over FirstPlus Financial Group, a publicly traded company located in Texas, and to replace its existing board of directors and management with individuals who would serve at the direction of Scarfo and Pelullo." They allegedly directed FPFG to buy worthless companies that they created.
"The scheme to defraud FPFG," said the indictment, "ultimately resulted in a loss to FPFG and its shareholders of at least approximately $12 million." Among the items that Pelullo and Scarfo allegedly purchased with the money was a private plane, which they used to visit the elder Scarfo in prison.
According to the indictment, Pelullo told a member of the company's board that if he didn't cooperate, "your kids will be sold off as prostitutes."
At a press conference Tuesday in Camden, New Jersey, U.S. Attorney Paul Fishman said "the defendants gave new meaning to 'corporate takeover' by looting a publicly traded company to benefit their criminal enterprise."
"Little Nicky" Scarfo, now 82, was the boss of the Philly mob from 1981 to 1989. Once a mob soldier and strip-joint owner, he came to power after pockmarked mob chieftain Philip "Chicken Man" Testa, his mentor, was blown to bits by a nail bomb under his front porch. The hit was commemorated by Bruce Springsteen in the song "Atlantic City."
Little Nicky had a penchant for Rolls Royce cars, motor yachts, and Florida vacations, as well as newspaper headlines and violence. During his rule, according to George Anastasia of the Philadelphia Inquirer, more than 20 mob associates died and 25 went to prison. He was convicted on multiple counts of murder, attempted murder, racketeering and drug trafficking and went to federal prison in 1989. He is scheduled for release in 2033, when he is 104.
The end of Nicky's reign almost ended his son Nicky Jr.'s life. On Halloween 1989, "Junior" was sitting in an Italian restaurant when a man in a Batman costume and carrying a bag of candy walked up to his table and shot him in the neck and torso eight times. Junior survived.
Nicky Jr. has been convicted twice in federal court on racketeering and gambling charges, emerging from prison in 2005. Prosecutors allege the FPFG fraud began in 2007. Scarfo is already under indictment for allegedly running a South Jersey gambling operation. Only a few weeks ago, one of the other 33 people arrested and charged in that case pled guilty and agreed to cooperate against his co-defendants.
The mafia lineage of Scarfo Jr., an alleged Lucchese family mob member, goes back generations. His grandfather was also a made man in the Genovese family in Brooklyn, and his grandmother's three brothers were Philly mobsters.