There might have been some mobsters lurking behind the FirstPlus Financial fraud case, a lawyer for lead defendant Nicodemo S. Scarfo said in legal papers filed recently, but their drink of choice would have been vodka not vino.
In an apparent attempt to distant himself from co-defendant Salvatore Pelullo -- and also get a shot at a new trial, Scarfo -- through his lawyer Michael Riley -- has argued that there was an "alternative theory" to the government's organized crime pitch in the high profile case and that he was denied the opportunity to present it.
Pelullo, an Elkins Park businessman with two prior fraud convictions and a Ukrainian-born wife, might have been kicking back funds from the multi-million dollar scam to Russian gangsters rather than Scarfo's Lucchese crime family, Riley wrote in a motion filed last month.
"In retrospect the connections to the Russian mob are far more substantial than those with Uncle Vic," Riley argued. The "Uncle Vic" reference is to Vittorio Amuso, the jailed boss of the Lucchese crime family who was named, along with Scarfo's father Nicodemo D. "Little Nicky" Scarfo, as an unindicted co-conspirator in the looting of FirstPlus, a Texas-based mortgage company.