Sonny DiCrecchio Will Plead Guilty to Massive Embezzlement Scheme at Philly Produce Market

Feds say he used the $7.8 million in ill-gotten gains to fund a $20,000-per-month Stone Harbor beach house and trips to Disney World and the Super Bowl.

longtime Philadelphia Wholesale Produce Market head Caesar "Sonny" DiCrecchio, who has been arrested by the FBI

Longtime Philadelphia Wholesale Produce Market head Caesar “Sonny” DiCrecchio, who has been arrested by the FBI. (Photo via Creative Commons/Flickr)

Federal criminal cases tend to linger on and on. The FBI arrests somebody. That somebody retains an attorney. And maybe two years later, you’ll get a result at trial or a last-minute plea deal just beforehand. So longtime Philly produce CEO Caesar “Sonny” DiCrecchio might be setting a record by agreeing to plead guilty less than one month after his arrest.

According to the Department of Justice, DiCrecchio, 60, is set to plead guilty to embezzling more than $7 million from Southwest Philly’s 700,000-square-foot Philadelphia Wholesale Produce Market, where he was CEO until he abruptly resigned in 2018 amid rumors of a federal investigation.

On March 10th, the feds charged DiCrecchio with two counts of wire fraud, one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud, one count of conspiracy to commit money laundering, one count of aggravated identity theft, and four counts of tax evasion.

Prosecutors say the Voorhees resident fraudulently cashed checks made out to bogus companies from the market’s account. He also skimmed the proceeds from the market’s cash-only parking lot, where cars paid $1 each to park, with larger trucks paying up to $35. The skim added up to $2.6 million in pilfered cash, while the rest of his misdeeds totaled $5.2 million, for a grand total of $7.8 million.

According to the feds, a big chunk of DiCrecchio’s ill-gotten gains went to pay for a $20,000-per-month rental home in Stone Harbor. He also spent the money on trips to the Super Bowl ($60,000 for one such jaunt) and Disney World and to pay for boarding for his granddaughter’s horses. And DiCrecchio was apparently a generous patron of various Mummers groups, using embezzled funds to make donations to string bands.

In a court filing, the government indicated that DiCrecchio has agreed to plead guilty to every single one of the counts in the indictment against him. He’s also agreed not to contest forfeiture of his property and restitution orders, and he’s voluntarily waiving his right to any appeal.

DiCrecchio has “demonstrated acceptance of responsibility for his offense” and “assisted authorities in the investigation or prosecution of his own misconduct by timely notifying the government of his intent to plead guilty, thereby permitting the government to avoid preparing for trial,” wrote Assistant U.S. Attorney Michael Donovan in that filing.

For his cooperation, DiCrecchio can expect a more lenient sentence than he otherwise would have received. The maximum sentence for his crimes could have totaled more than 100 years in federal prison. A sentencing date has yet to be announced. DiCrecchio’s attorney didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.

Thomas del Borrello, owner of United Check Cashing at 1123 South Broad Street in South Philadelphia, has also agreed to plead guilty, according to prosecutors. The feds say that del Borrello and DiCrecchio conspired to make the illegal check-cashing scheme possible.

No word yet on the fate of the other defendants in the case. They include longtime market bookkeeper Patricia Pumphrey, who is charged with wire fraud and conspiracy, and Eric Fante, a Delco contractor. Pumphrey’s attorney didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment in light of DiCrecchio forthcoming guilty plea.

According to court documents, Fante conspired with DiCrecchio to have the contractor do flooring work for friends and associates of DiCrecchio, all paid for by the market.

“I think the government and the defense both agree that Eric did not go into this intending to commit a crime,” Chuck Peruto, Fante’s attorney, told Philly Mag in March, going on to say that his client thought he was just doing “small favors” for DiCrecchio, an investor in Fante’s flooring company.