PHILADELPHIA -- Defense lawyers rested their case and prosecutors called a new round of witnesses Wednesday in the federal racketeering trial of reputed organized crime boss Nicodemo Scarfo and 16 alleged associates.
During two days of testimony, lawyers for the 17 defendants attempted to discredit admitted mob hitmen Thomas DelGiorno and Nicholas Caramandi, the prosecution's key witnesses.
Among the defense witnesses was Thomas DelGiorno Jr., a surprise witness who said his father's testimony was coerced, coached and sometimes fabricated by FBI agents eager to nail Scarfo and his co-defendants.
DelGiorno, 22, testified about his plush but sheltered life as the son of a paid government informant. Under questioning by prosecutors, the younger DelGiorno admitted he wished to return to his family and friends in Philadelphia.
However, DelGiorno said he could not return because he feared reprisals from both law enforcement officials and his father's former mob associates.
An FBI agent who guarded the former mobster's family testified as a rebuttal witness for the prosecution that the younger DelGiorno was bitter and had told his father several times he was 'a rat' for testifying against his former associates.
FBI Agent Charles Warner testified he drank alcohol with DelGiorno and his son at least once, when he tried to earn the confidence of the former hitman's son.
'The son wanted to know why I was guarding him, what was to keep me from being corrupt and telling his father's enemies where he lived,' Warner testified. 'I explained to him that if people were coming to kill him they would have to kill me also.'
Prosecutors rested their case Tuesday after 31 days of testimony in which former mob members and FBI agents told of Scarfo's alleged control of organized crime between Philadelphia and Atlantic City, N.J.
Closing arguments in the case were expected to begin as early as Thursday. However, after the defense concluded its case Wednesday, prosecutors excercised their right to call rebuttal witnesses to the stand.
Prosecutors called six rebuttal witnesses, five of whom were law enforcement officials, and were expected to call another 10 witnesses on Thursday before presenting their closing arguments.