| PHILADELPHIA, June 18
PHILADELPHIA, June 18 A federal jury in New
Jersey on Wednesday began deliberating the fate of reputed
mobster Nicodemo Scarfo Jr. in an alleged organized-crime
takeover of a Texas-based mortgage company.
Prosecutors say Scarfo and business partner Salvatore
Pelullo used threats of violence and extortion to coerce
shareholders in FirstPlus Financial Group Inc into installing a
board of directors beholden to the pair.
If convicted in the racketeering case in U.S. District Court
in Camden, New Jersey, the pair face 30 years in prison.
According to prosecutors, Scarfo and Pelullo allegedly used
fraudulent consulting agreements to loot $12 million from the
then-publicly traded company in Irving, Texas. It later filed
A 108-page indictment said the pair used the funds to buy
luxury cars, a beach house, a yacht and jewelry in a scheme that
began in 2007. They were arrested in 2011.
Scarfo Jr. is the son of Nicodemo Scarfo, a reputed mob boss
in Philadelphia who has been in prison since the mid-1990s. The
son is a member of the Lucchese crime family, according to
Thirteen people in all, including a former FirstPlus chief
executive and lawyers who worked with the company, are charged
with crimes ranging from helping to conceal Scarfo's involvement
to lying on applications for a mortgage.
The complex trial, in which jurors heard wiretaps and viewed
financial documents, has been underway since January.
Law enforcement officials have used the case to claim that
organized crime has evolved from back-alley gangsters to
sophisticated financial operators.
Defense attorneys have argued that the case did not amount
to a criminal conspiracy and at best should have been litigated
in a shareholder lawsuit.
(Editing by Ellen Wulfhorst and Susan Heavey)