Nicodemo “Little Nicky” Scarfo, leader of the Philadelphia Mafia in the 1980s, died at the age of 87 at a federal medical center in North Carolina, a prison spokeswoman told the Associated Press (AP) on Tuesday.

No cause of death was released for the mob boss — considered one of the most ruthless mafia leaders — who died while in custody at the Federal Medical Center in Butner, North Carolina, on Saturday, Bureau of Prisons spokeswoman Nancy Ayers told the publication.

Once called “the undersized Atlantic City man with the oversized temper” by the Philadelphia Daily News, the 5-foot-5 former soldier was at the helm of the Philadelphia-southern New Jersey mob from 1981 — when Philip “Chicken Man” Testa was killed outside his home — till 1988 when he was convicted of racketeering charges, along with many others.

Scarfo rose in the mafia circle after the assassination of mob boss Angelo “Docile Don” Bruno in 1980, which set off a mob war that lasted over half a decade, leaving more than two dozen mobsters dead.

“Mr. Scarfo is prone to violence, is unpredictable, and the people he surrounds himself with are equally prone to violence and are unpredictable,” FBI agent James Maher testified in a 1981 court hearing, the AP reported. In the past, Scarfo had also been described as “a greedy, ruthless despot” indulging in “wanton, ruthless and senseless violence,” by author George Anastasia in his book, “Blood and Honor.”

The various trials Scarfo faced showed him as a “greedy, small-minded and violent terrorist who climbed to the top over the dead bodies of onetime associates,” Anastasia wrote in his book. “There was no sense of charisma; not even a hint of the old Mafia mystique. Scarfo was a bully with a gun.”

Scarfo’s reign as a mob boss ended in 1988 after he and 16 others were convicted of racketeering based on FBI wiretaps of their meetings and the testimony of two mobsters-turned-informants — Nicholas “Nicky Crow” Caramandi and Thomas “Tommy Del” DelGiorno. The informants gave out details of killings, extortions and other deals carried out by the accused.