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Showing posts with label Todd Stark. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Todd Stark. Show all posts

Monday, July 07, 2014

Nicodemo S. Scarfo and Salvatore Pelullo Convicted of Racketeering and Other Crimes

A member and an associate of the Lucchese organized crime family and two Texas brothers were convicted of racketeering and other charges after a six-month trial, U.S. Attorney Paul J. Fishman for the District of New Jersey and Assistant Attorney General Leslie R. Caldwell of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division announced.

Nicodemo S. Scarfo, 49, of Galloway, N.J., a member of the Lucchese organized crime family of La Cosa Nostra (LCN) and Salvatore Pelullo, 47, of Philadelphia, an associate of the Lucchese and Philadelphia LCN families, were convicted of all the counts against them, including racketeering conspiracy and related offenses, including securities fraud, wire fraud, mail fraud, bank fraud, extortion, money laundering and obstruction of justice. Two other defendants, William and John Maxwell, were also convicted. Co-defendants David Adler, Gary McCarthy and Donald Manno were acquitted on all counts.

“Today, four people stand convicted for giving new meaning to ‘corporate takeover’ – looting a publicly traded company to benefit their criminal enterprise,” U.S. Attorney Fishman said. “The defendants stole more than $12 million from shareholders through rampant self-dealing, fraudulent SEC filings and intimidation. The public should not have to worry that the interests of shareholders are being subverted to benefit organized crime or for other corrupt ends.”

“Nicodemo Scarfo, Salvatore Pellulo and their cohorts used threats of physical and economic harm to take over a publicly traded financial firm, then callously and systematically looted the company out of millions of dollars to buy luxury items for themselves,” Assistant Attorney General Caldwell said. “As a result of today’s guilty verdict, this mafia member and his conspirators now face substantial prison sentences.”

The jury deliberated two weeks before delivering its verdicts following a six-month trial before U.S. District Judge Robert B. Kugler in Camden federal court. The defendants were charged in an indictment returned in 2011 by a federal grand jury in Camden. It named Nicodemo D. Scarfo (Scarfo Sr.) – Nicodemo S. Scarfo’s father and the imprisoned former boss of the Philadelphia LCN family – and Vittorio Amuso, the imprisoned boss of the Lucchese family, as conspirators.

Five other defendants – Cory Leshner, Howard Drossner, John Parisi, Todd Stark, and Scarfo’s wife, Lisa Murray-Scarfo – have previously pleaded guilty to various charges related to their roles in the criminal scheme.

According to documents filed in this case and the evidence at trial:

Scarfo is a made member of the Lucchese family, having become a member after an attempt on his life in 1989 following an internal struggle for control of the Philadelphia family. In the mid-1990s, while Scarfo Sr. and Amuso were in federal prison in Atlanta, Amuso arranged for Scarfo to become a member of the Lucchese family as a favor to Scarfo Sr. As a member of the Lucchese family, Scarfo was required to earn money and participate in the affairs of the Lucchese family.

In April 2007, Scarfo, Pelullo and others devised a scheme to take over FirstPlus Financial Group Inc. (FPFG), a publicly held company in Texas. Scarfo and Pelullo used threats of economic harm to intimidate and remove the prior management and board of directors of replaced those officers with individuals beholden to Scarfo and Pelullo, including William Maxwell, an attorney from Houston, Texas, and his brother, John Maxwell, of Irving, Texas, who acted as the company’s CEO.

Once the takeover was completed, the figurehead board named William Maxwell as “special counsel” to FPFG, a position that he used to funnel $12 million to himself, Scarfo and Pelullo through fraudulent legal services and consulting agreements. The agreements, as well as FPFG’s fraudulent acquisitions of companies controlled by Scarfo and Pelullo, were designed to mask the true identity and nature of the control exerted over FPFG and to conceal the source of the money fraudulently conveyed to Scarfo and Pelullo.

In a telephone call intercepted by law enforcement, Pelullo called Scarfo to tell him about the sudden death of a former FPFG executive. This former executive had provided information to Pelullo and Maxwell that they used to extort control of FPFG. At the time of his death, he was a member of FPFG’s “compliance team.” Scarfo and Pelullo expressed relief regarding his death. After laughing about how he was “crushed” that “the rat is dead,” Pelullo acknowledged that the executive was “the only connection, the only tie to anything.” Scarfo replied: “Oh boy. Yeah, Sal, you wanna know something though? That’s one that I know you can’t take credit for . . . [laughter] . . . and that’s the natural best thing. You know what I mean? That is so like Enron-ish. You know what I mean? Kenneth Lay, he bailed out and took a heart attack.”

Scarfo and Pelullo used their illicit gains to fund extravagant purchases, including an $850,000 yacht for both defendants, a luxury home for Scarfo, a Bentley automobile for Pelullo, and thousands of dollars in jewelry for Scarfo’s wife. As a direct result of the enterprise’s criminal activity, FPFG and its shareholders suffered a loss of at least $12 million.

The conspiracy to commit bank fraud count carries a maximum potential penalty of 30 years in prison and a $1 million fine; the RICO conspiracy, wire fraud conspiracy, wire fraud, conspiracy to obstruct justice counts each carry a maximum potential penalty of 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine; the conspiracy to commit money laundering and felon in possession of a weapon counts each carry a maximum potential penalty of 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine; the securities fraud conspiracy, conspiracy to make false statements in a loan application and conspiracy to transfer firearms to a prohibited person counts each carry a maximum potential penalty of five years in prison and a $250,000 fine.

Sentencing for Scarfo is scheduled for Oct. 22, 2014; for Pelullo, Oct. 21, 2014; and for both Maxwell brothers, Oct. 23, 2014.

Thursday, November 03, 2011

Todd Stark, Reputed Mob Associate of Nicodemo S. Scarfo, Pleads Guilty

A former bartender and reputed mob associate pleaded not guilty Wednesday to supplying boxes of bullets to mobster Nicodemo S. Scarfo, a convicted felon barred by law from possessing guns or ammunition.

Todd Stark, 43, of Ocean City, N.J., entered the plea during a brief hearing in U.S. District Court in Camden.

Stark is among 12 defendants indicted with Scarfo, 46, in a multimillion-dollar financial-fraud case. He is the only one not charged with involvement in what prosecutors allege was the systematic looting of the FirstPlus Financial Group, a Texas company that authorities allege Scarfo secretly took control of in 2007.

Stark, Scarfo, and five other defendants were charged with conspiracy to provide firearms or ammunition to a convicted felon.

Scarfo, who has been held without bail pending a detention hearing and arraignment Friday, also is charged with illegal possession of a weapon.

Most of the defendants have pleaded not guilty and are free on bail.

Others, including Scarfo, have not yet entered pleas.

The weapons charges, while not directly connected to the financial fraud, underscore allegations that the looting of FirstPlus was based, in part, on Scarfo's organized-crime connections.

Authorities allege that Scarfo, of Galloway Township, N.J., and defendant Salvatore Pelullo, 44, of Elkins Park, used threats of violence and their ties to the mob to intimidate officials with the firm and eventually take control of the company.

The 25-count indictment charges that proceeds from the scam, estimated at more than $12 million, were "distributed to members and associates of LCN (La Cosa Nostra)."

Pelullo, described by associates as a "wannabe wiseguy," is identified in court documents as an associate of the Philadelphia crime family formerly headed by Scarfo's father, "Little Nicky" Scarfo, and the Lucchese crime family in New York.

The indictment alleges that Scarfo and Pelullo kept a "cache of weapons."

They included two rifles, a shotgun, two pistols, a revolver, and more than 2,500 rounds of ammunition found on a yacht owned by Scarfo and Pelullo during an FBI raid in May 2008.

The yacht, christened "Priceless," was purchased for $850,000 by the pair with funds taken from FirstPlus, authorities said. Docked in Miami, it was used by the men and their associates to cruise the Bahamas.

It was seized by authorities during the investigation.

Authorities found a .38-caliber pistol in Pelullo's business office in Philadelphia; a .32-caliber pistol in his home; and a 9mm pistol, a .357 revolver, and more than 100 rounds of ammunition in Scarfo's home, according to Tuesday's indictment.

Stark is charged with purchasing two boxes of 9mm bullets from an Atlantic County gun shop in December 2007 and passing them to Scarfo.

John Maxwell, the former CEO of FirstPlus and a defendant in the pending case, is charged with buying a .357 revolver from a pawn shop in Dallas in September 2007 and driving "for approximately 48 hours from Texas to Atlantic City . . . where he delivered the revolver" to Scarfo.

At a news conference Tuesday, FBI Agent Michael B. Ward said the case was an example of the evolution of organized crime from "the back alleys to the board room."

No matter the locale, Ward said, the mob continues to use "physical threats and intimidation to gain leverage."

Thanks to George Anastasia

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