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Jury Finds Scarfo, 16 Others Guilty In Racketeering Case

November 20, 1988

PHILADELPHIA (AP) _ Mob boss Nicodemo ″Little Nicky″ Scarfo and 16 associates were convicted Saturday night in a racketeering conspiracy that involved murder, extortion and other crimes.

A federal jury deliberated 26 hours over three days before returning the verdicts.

The government contended the 17 defendants are members of organized crime who conspired to participate in nine murders, four attempted murders, extortions, drug dealing, loansharking and illegal gambling. They each face up to 20 years in prison.

″I think every one of us was quietly confident,″ said Assistant U.S. Attorney Louis Pichini. ″We were so terribly proud that the system worked and did not buckle under.″

He added, ″One of the things that this case did was it broke the myth of the Mafia’s invincibility.″

Robert Simone, Scarfo’s lawyer, hugged each defendant and patted them on the back after the verdict.

Outside the courtroom, Simone said the prosecution did ″more than a decent job.″

″I never question what a jury does, win or lose,″ Simone said.

U.S. District Judge Franklin VanAntwerpen warned the crowd before the verdict was read that he would not tolerate any outcry or demonstration, and there was none.

A few of the relatives, most of them wives and children, gasped when the first ″guilty″ verdict was read concerning Scarfo, 59, who headed the list of defendants. Most of the relatives sat stunned, a few wiped at their eyes and sobbed.

Scarfo already is serving a 14-year prison term for conspiring to extort $1 million from Philadelphia developer Willard Rouse III.

In two other cases, defense attorneys successfully discredited the informants to win acquittals for Scarfo - in a drug case and in the slaying of Salvatore Testa, who authorities said challenged Scarfo’s control of the Philadelphia-southern New Jersey crime family.

This time, each defendant was found guilty on the two main racketeering counts they faced. In addition:

-Francis Iannarella Jr. and Salvatore Scafidi were convicted of operating an illegal gambling business;

-Scarfo, his nephew Philip Leonetti, Salvatore Merlino and Joseph Pungitore were convicted of sports bookmaking;

-Joseph Pungitore was convicted of distributing methamphetamine;

-Scarfo, Joseph Ciancaglini and Salvatore Merlino was convicted of distributing 50 pounds of methamphetamine; and

-Scarfo and Merlino were convicted of distributing methamphetamine.

Others convicted on the main racketeering counts were Lawrence ″Yogi″ Merlino, Charles ″Charlie White″ Iannece, Salvatore Wayne Grande, Phillip Narducci, Frank Narducci Jr., Eugene ″Gino″ Milano, Ralph Staino Jr., Joseph Grande, Nicholas ″Nick the Blade″ Virgilio and Anthony Pungitore, Jr.

At Pichini’s request, VanAntwerpen revoked bail for the one defendant who had not been linked to violent crimes. Scarfo and 15 of the other defendants have been in jail without bail since their indictment earlier this year and were confined in the courthouse through the deliberations.

VanAntwerpen adjourned the court without setting a sentencing date.

Jurors had begun their third day of deliberations Saturday at 9 a.m.

Defense attorneys had attacked the credibility of the government’s star witnesses, ex-mobsters Thomas ″Tommy Del″ DelGiorno and Nicholas ″Nicky Crow″ Caramandi, who have testified in previous trials against Scarfo, who is from Atlantic City, N.J.

Prosecutors pointed to secretly recorded tapes that they said also showed the defendants’ guilt.

Thirty-three days of testimony included only two days by defense witnesses. None of the defendants testified. It took five days for opposing lawyers to sum up their arguments and VanAntwerpen needed a full day to explain applicable laws to jurors before handing them the case.

During the trial, attention also was drawn to two of Scarfo’s sons, beginning with what authorities said was the attempted suicide of Mark Scarfo, 17, in Atlantic City Nov. 1.

Then, in the Philadelphia hospital where Mark was taken, Nicodemo Scarfo Jr., 23, was charged with assaulting a woman in an elevator Nov. 4 after visiting his brother.