Former Philly Mob Boss “Little Nicky” Scarfo Dies at 87
Notoriously violent Philly mob boss Nicodemo Scarfo – also known as “Little Nicky” – has died at the Federal Medical Center in Butner, N.C., while serving a 55-year prison sentence on murder and racketeering charges. He was 87 years old.
A lawyer for Scarfo’s son, Nicodemo S. “Nicky” Scarfo, told the Inquirer that the elder Scarfo died sometime over the weekend and that he had been “in deteriorating health for awhile.” Scarfo’s own laywer, Norris E. Gelman, told the newspaper that he believes cancer was the cause of death.
Born in Brooklyn and raised in South Philadelphia and Atlantic City, Scarfo presided as mob boss in the city and South Jersey after the 1980 murder of then-boss Angelo Bruno. In the five years of Scarfo’s reign, 25 mob associates in the area were murdered. Scarfo, whose nickname came from his short stature (he was 5’5″), was widely considered one of the most violent mafia leaders in the country.
Before Scarfo was introduced to the mafia by his three uncles, Nicholas, Michael, and Joseph Piccolo, he worked with newsboys at 30th Street Station and was an amateur boxer. Eventually, Scarfo began his career in the mob as a bookmaker and climbed his way up to notoriety.
Between 1987 and 1989, Scarfo was convicted of conspiracy, racketeering, and first-degree murder, and was eventually sent to the federal penitentiary in Marion, Ill. By that point, he had already been to jail three times – first in 1963, after he reportedly stabbed an Irish longshoreman to death during a fight over a booth in South Philadelphia’s Oregon Diner.
“A lot of people would say he’s a psycho,” George Anastasia, who covered Scarfo as an Inquirer reporter for 10 years, told CBS. “He was very volatile, short temper, violent.”
In 2015, Scarfo’s son by the same name was sentenced to 30 years in prison on racketeering charges.
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