July 29, 2015

Associate of Lucchese Organized Crime Family Sentenced to 30 Years in Prison for Racketeering and Other Crimes

CAMDEN, NJ—An associate of the Lucchese organized crime family of La Cosa Nostra (LCN) was sentenced today to 30 years in prison for participating in a racketeering conspiracy and related offenses, U.S. Attorney Paul J. Fishman announced.

Salvatore Pelullo, 48, of Philadelphia, an associate of the Philadelphia and Lucchese LCN families, was sentenced today by U.S. District Judge Robert B. Kugler to 360 months in prison. He was convicted in July 2014, along with Nicodemo S. Scarfo, 50, of Galloway, New Jersey, a member of the Lucchese organized crime family; William Maxwell, 56, of Houston, a Texas attorney; and John Maxwell, 63, of Dallas, of racketeering conspiracy and related offenses, including securities fraud, wire fraud, mail fraud, bank fraud, extortion, money laundering and obstruction of justice, after a six-month trial before Judge Kugler in Camden federal court.

Scarfo was sentenced on July 28, 2015, to 30 years in prison. The Maxwells are scheduled to be sentenced July 30, 2015. According to documents filed in this case and the evidence presented at trial:

In April 2007, Pelullo, Scarfo and others conspired to take control of FirstPlus Financial Group Inc. (FPFG), a publicly held company in Texas, by using threats of economic harm to intimidate and remove FPFG’s management and board of directors, and to replace them with people beholden to Pelullo and Scarfo, including the Maxwell brothers. Once the takeover had occurred, FPFG’s new board of directors named William Maxwell as “special counsel” to FPFG and John Maxwell as the company’s CEO, positions that they used to funnel $12 million to themselves, Pelullo and Scarfo through fraudulent legal services and consulting agreements. Pelullo and Scarfo used their illicit gains to fund extravagant purchases.

The indictment also named as conspirators Scarfo’s father, Nicodemo D. Scarfo, or Scarfo Sr., the imprisoned former boss of the Philadelphia LCN family; and Vittorio Amuso, the imprisoned boss of the Lucchese LCN family. Five other defendants—Cory Leshner, Howard Drossner, John Parisi, Todd Stark and Nicodemo S. Scarfo’s wife, Lisa Murray-Scarfo—previously pleaded guilty to various charges related to their roles in the conspiracy.

In addition to the prison term, Judge Kugler sentenced Pelullo to five years of supervised release and ordered him to pay restitution of $14 million.

U.S. Attorney Fishman credited special agents of the FBI in Newark, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Richard M. Frankel, with the investigation leading to today’s sentencing. They also thanked the U.S. Department of Labor-Office of Inspector General’s Office of Labor Racketeering and Fraud Investigations New York Region, the FBI’s Philadelphia Division and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives for their roles in the case.

The government is represented by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Steven D’Aguanno and Howard Wiener of the District of New Jersey and Trial Attorney Adam L. Small of the Criminal Division’s Organized Crime and Gang Section.