Please note: This article is published as an archive copy from Philadelphia City Paper. My City Paper is not affiliated with Philadelphia City Paper. Philadelphia City Paper was an alternative weekly newspaper in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The last edition was published on October 8, 2015.

January 9–16, 1997

hit and run

Peruto Jr.: Scarfo Is Scum


Count A. Charles Peruto Jr. as one lawyer who's glad to see Little Nicky Scarfo back in town for a murder trial. Peruto, a well-known Philadelphia defense attorney, hopes the district attorney can hang the 1985 death of Frank "FrankieFlowers" D'Alfonso on the imprisoned mobster.

Not that Peruto believes in justice, no matter the price. While other local defense lawyers question the wisdom of prosecuting Scarfo, a 68-year-old man serving consecutive federal prison sentences of 55 years, Peruto just wants to see Scarfo squirm.

In short, Peruto hates the diminutive don and everything he stood for during Scarfo's seven-year stint as Mafia chieftain during the early to mid-'80s.

"I hope [Scarfo] gets found guilty, and that's on the record," says Peruto.

Why does Peruto despise Scarfo? The lawyer points to Scarfo's alleged cache of millions which Mafia insiders believe was stashed inside a wallsafe at Scarfo's Atlantic City home during the late '80s as the killer sat in jail.

For six weeks at the end of 1988 and beginning of 1989, says Peruto, lawyers "worked ferociously day and night, trying to save Nicky Scarfo's rear end." The least Scarfo could do, adds Peruto, was pay the attorneys who defended him andseven others in the original D'Alfonso case.

Instead, Peruto says Scarfo cried poverty to the lawyers, including Peruto pal Bobby Simone, a now-imprisoned mob lawyer.

"[Scarfo] said 'It's all gone,'" Peruto recalls.

And who would have thought otherwise, asks Peruto? When the feds closed in on Scarfo, he was leading a lavish lifestyle complete with fat-cat cars, yachts and a home in Florida. And what Nicky didn't spend, the downtown crowd thought the G-men seizedthe rest.

"The feds seized a lot of cash and assets," says Peruto. "It appeared on the surface that he was telling the truth."

Thing was, Scarfo may have been lying. After Scarfo's nephew and underboss Philip "Crazy Phil" Leonetti turned informant, word came out that Nancy Leonetti (Phil's mom) grabbed between $1.4 million and $1.6 million from Scarfo's wall, plusbonds and jewels. Nobody was happy that Leonetti ratted, then ran off with the loot. But some like Peruto found it even more galling that the don lied to the lawyers out of greed.

"In La Cosa Nostra, when you're the boss, it's 'family,' it's a tradition to help everybody with lawyers and the remaining family members," says Peruto. "But Scarfo told Bobby Simone to his face — 'I'm broke.'"

"This completely turned off anybody who was associated with Scarfo," says Peruto. "The guy changed the meaning of La Cosa Nostra from 'family' to 'me.' He's used everybody he's ever come in contact with. One of his sons hanged himself.Another changed his name. What does that tell you?"

"The guy deserves to do every day that he got. He should only get more."

— Scott Farmelant

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