Thirteen people, including members of the Philadelphia and Lucchese crime families, were indicted on Tuesday on criminal charges for allegedly attempted to defraud and extort a Texas financial firm.
Nicodemo Scarfo Jr. and Salvatore Pelullo were two of the individuals who were arrested. They are believed to be connected to the Italian-American underworld crime families. They were charged with racketeering conspiracy, securities fraud, wire fraud, mail fraud, bank fraud and extortion just to name a few.
Officials called the charges an extortionate takeover of FirstPlus Financial Group Inc. The conspirators are said to have stolen money from FPFG through fraudulent consulting agreements and phony business takeovers, according to the Justice Department.
Five attorneys and an accountant were also charged. Scarfo's wife was charged with conspiracy to commit bank fraud and for making false statements on a loan application. She had played a part in the scheme by securing a mortgage to purchase a $715,000 house with illegally earned cash.
The indictment alleges that Mr Scarfo and Mr Pelullo used economic extortion and threats of violence to seize and maintain control of a publicly traded company, successfully removing its entire existing board of directors and management, said Assistant Attorney General Lanny Breuer, according to AFP. Once in control, they allegedly used their criminal enterprise to extract millions of dollars from the company to fund their lavish lifestyles. This prosecution demonstrates the Justice Department's resolve to root out the influence of La Cosa Nostra wherever it exists.
According to the indictment, Scarfo, Pelullo, attorney William Maxwell and several others came up with a plan to take over FPFG.
The indictment alleges that in April 2007, Scarfo, Pelullo, Texas attorney William Maxwell and others devised a scheme to take over FPFG, a financial services company in Texas. Once the takeover was completed, Maxwell was named a special counsel to FPFG. He used his position to steal millions of dollars for the other conspirators through illicit legal services and consulting agreements, said AFP. The crew allegedly forced FPFG to buy fake companies created for the scam.
The defendants gave new meaning to 'corporate takeover' by looting a publicly traded company to benefit their criminal enterprise...Through rampant self dealing, fraudulent SEC filings and more traditional mob methods, the defendants allegedly stole $12 million from shareholders, said U.S. Attorney Paul Fishman of New Jersey.
Scarfo has been convicted twice in federal court for racketeering and gambling. Scarfo already has a prior indiciment for running an illegal gambling operation in South Jersey.
Scarfo is also son of former Philadelphia Mafia boss Nicodemo Little Nicky Scarfo. Little Nicky is serving time in prison for previous convictions, however, he and the reputed boss of the Lucchese family, were listed as unindicted co-conspirators.