Jailed mobster suspected in finance scam

July 18, 2011 at 1:58 PM

PHILADELPHIA, July 18 (UPI) -- Philadelphia crime boss Nicodemo Scarfo helped run a scam to cheat a Texas financial firm from his federal prison cell, court papers in Dallas state.

The U.S. Attorney's Office in Camden, N.J., which is handling the case, won't comment, but a source close to the investigation tells The Philadelphia Inquirer authorities have not decided whether to indict Scarfo, who is 82 and serving 55 years, effectively life, for racketeering and murder.

A 2007 civil complaint filed for FirstPlus Financial Group's bankruptcy trustee accuses Salvatore Pelullo, 45, and Scarfo's son, Nicodemo, 46, of a scheme in which FirstPlus paid "millions of dollars for essentially worthless companies" they controlled.

The companies were set up in Philadelphia and Atlantic City, N.J., supposedly for construction and restoration projects. Businesses and homes in Texas, Pennsylvania and New Jersey have been raided.

A new bankruptcy filing alleges accountants and lawyers working for FirstPlus were actually acting on behalf of Pelullo, who named board members to clear expenditures without due diligence.

Pelullo and the younger Scarfo, through their lawyers, deny any wrongdoing.

The elder Scarfo's alleged role includes a prison phone conversation with his son discussing a lawyer they picked to lead the FirstPlus board.

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