Philadelphia mob boss Nicodemo “Little Nicky” Scarfo died in prison at the age of 87, according to his attorney.
Scarfo’s attorney told NBC10 his client passed away Friday at the Federal Medical Center in Butner, North Carolina. He was serving a 55-year prison sentence at the center. His attorney believes he died from cancer.
Born in Brooklyn, New York, Scarfo was an amateur boxer before joining the Bruno crime family in Philly in the 1950s. He spent years as a soldier in the family and also helped run operations in Atlantic City.
Scarfo became the head of the Philadelphia crime family in the 1980s following the deaths of crime bosses Angelo Bruno and Philip Testa.
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Scarfo was arrested in 1987 and later convicted on extortion and conspiracy charges and sentenced to 14 years in prison. In 1988, while serving the extortion sentence, he and 16 associates were tried on federal RICO (Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations) charges. Scarfo was found guilty on 32 counts that included eight murders. He received a 55 year prison sentence and was serving that sentence at the Federal Medical Center in Butner at the time of his death. Scarfo's attorney David Bahuriak told NBC10 he was trying to get his client released on parole before he died.
"Mr. Scarfo was definitely an infamous character. No doubt about that," Bahuriak said. "You know when we first met he said to me, 'Dave, it's a pleasure to meet you. I've heard a lot of nice things about you.' And I said, 'Mr. Scarfo, it's a pleasure to meet you too. I wish I could say the same.'"
Scarfo had three children, including Nicky Scarfo Jr., who was sentenced to 30 years in jail on racketeering charges.