Nicodemo Scarfo Biography


Birthday: March 8, 1929 (Pisces)

Born In: Brooklyn, New York, United States

Nicodemo Scarfo was a member of the American Mafia who later became the mob boss of the Philadelphia crime family. Nicknamed ‘Little Nicky’ for his short stature, he was famous for his violent temper, even during his years as an amateur boxer. These same violent outbursts saw Scarfo murder a man over a seat, and led the then Mafia boss, Angelo Bruno, to banish Scarfo to Atlantic City to oversee operations there. The legalisation of gambling in Atlantic City opened up multiple avenues for Nicodemo Scarfo, and gained him success and power. Nicodemo Scarfo then moved up the ranks quickly, eventually serving as a hitman for his mentor and friend Philip Testa. After Testa was murdered, Scarfo went to claim the top spot of what would be known as the Bruno-Scarfo crime family; he ruled with terror and intimidation for close to 10 years. His temper proved to be his downfall, however; after he ordered a hit on his close friend and hitman, Salvatore Testa, his own men began turning against him. Testimony by two of his top lieutenants was what finally got him convicted and jailed, this time for life. He died in prison, at the age of 87.
Quick Facts

Also Known As: Nicodemo Domenico Scarfo, Little Nicky, Little Lethal Nicky, Lethal Nicky, The Killer

Died At Age: 87


Spouse/Ex-: Domenica Scarfo

father: Phil Scarfo

mother: Catherine Piccolo

children: Christopher Scarfo, Mark Scarfo, Nicky Scarfo Jr.

Born Country: United States

Gangsters American Men

Died on: January 13, 2017

place of death: FMC Butner, Bahama, North Carolina, United States

Childhood & Early Life
Born in Brooklyn, New York on March 8, 1929, Nicodemo Domenico Scarfo was the son of Italian immigrants. He moved to South Philadelphia at the age of 10, and started working as a young laborer.
Records show him graduating from Benjamin Franklin High School in 1947.
His father and three uncles, Nicholas, Joseph and Michael Piccolo, worked for the Genovese Crime Family, as made men (protected or untouchable members of the mafia). The Piccolos were under the protection of the Bruno Crime Family, headed by Angelo Bruno (called the 'Gentle Don' for his friendly demeanor).
Nicodemo Scarfo became an amateur boxer, fighting in many Philadelphia clubs. He soon earned a reputation for his volatile temper.
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Later Life
Upon not getting any success as a boxer, Nicodemo Scarfo was then introduced to the mob by his uncles, the Piccolos. He began working with the Philadelphia crime family as a bookmaker in 1954, earning the nickname of ‘Little Nicky’ because of his height, which was short at only 5 feet 5 inches.
Nicodemo Scarfo's uncles, the Piccolos, rose up the ranks under mob boss Angelo Bruno. However, the same could not be said for Nicodemo Scarfo. His temper attracted the wrong kind of attention, especially after he stabbed a longshoreman, William Dugan, over a fight for a seat at the diner booth, in 1963. He served six months in jail after pleading guilty. This incident prompted Angelo Bruno to banish him from the city in 1964, to oversee operations in Atlantic City.
Nicodemo Scarfo moved to live with his mother Catherine, in Atlantic City in 1964. He lived there, in a boarding home operated by his mother, with his second wife and his three sons. He struggled financially during this period.
Along with mob boss Angelo Bruno, Nicodemo Scarfo, and a dozen other mob figures, were found in contempt of court for refusing to testify for the New Jersey State Commission of Investigation (SCI). Nicodemo Scarfo was jailed for almost two years, from 1971 to 1973.
Gambling was legalised in Atlantic City in 1976, giving Scarfo a lucrative business opportunity. That and his cement contracting company (he forced businesses, including Donald Trump's, to buy from him), saw profits flow in to his operation.
In 1978, Scarfo, along with associate Nicholas "Nick the Blade" Virgilio, publicly shot and killed judge Edwin J. Helfant for refusing to lighten Virgilio's murder sentence. The nature of this killing was supposed to serve as a warning to anyone not willing to give Scarfo what he wanted.
Nicodemo Scarfo ordered the killing of criminal associate and contractor, Vincent Falcone, in 1979, as he was heard making negative remarks about the company, and about Scarfo.
Angelo Bruno, head of the Bruno crime family, was gunned down in 1980, leading to Philip Testa (he was called ‘Chicken Man’, probably because of his links to the poultry business) being named the new boss. Testa got his friend, Nicodemo Scarfo appointed to the post of family consigliere.
Philip Testa was killed via a nail bomb, on March 15, 1981, after which Scarfo was named top boss. His decade-long reign was brutal and filled with violence.
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He was arrested and jailed for gun possession, in Texas, from August 1982 and January 1984. 1984 was also when Scarfo ordered the execution of his own top hitman, Salvatore Testa (the son of Scarfo's friend and old boss, Philip Testa). The reasoning behind this hit was Testa's growing popularity and power, which could have posed a threat to Scarfo's own power.
In November 1986, Nicholas Caramandi (nicknamed Nicky Crow) and Thomas DelGiorno (nicknamed Tommy Del), offered to turn on their boss, Nicodemo Scarfo, in exchange for protection from federal agents. 24 homicides were solved thanks to the information given by these two men.
He was arrested by FBI in January 1987 at the ‘Atlantic City’ airport in Pomona, New Jersey. Convicted thrice, with related sentencings, he was sent to federal penitentiary at Marion, Illinois, in 1989.
Another nail to his coffin was the testimony given by his nephew and mob family underboss, Philip (known as Crazy Phil) Leonetti, who flipped on Scarfo after being arrested himself.
Nicodemo Scarfo tried to run his operations from inside the prison, with the help of his middle son, Nicodemo, but his plans were foiled when his son was attacked in October 1989. While Scarfo lost his hold on the underworld after that, his criminal activities continued well into his 80s, with him being indicted in an extortion, that would eventually lead to his son Nicodemo Scarfo Jr. being arrested and convicted.
Family & Personal Life
Nicodemo Scarfo was married twice. His second wife was named Domenica. He had three sons, one of them from his first marriage.
At the time of Scarfo's trial in 1988, when public and media scrutiny was most intense, his youngest son, Mark, tried to hang himself. He was 17 at the time. He was found by his mother and rushed to the hospital, but he never regained consciousness, and eventually died in 2014.
In 1989, his oldest son, Christopher Scarfo, who was working as an Atlantic City real estate broker, legally changed his name to take on his wife's last name.
Only Scarfo's middle son, Nicodemo, followed in his father's footsteps, acting as his messenger and enforcer during Nicodemo Sr.'s early years in prison. Nicodemo Scarfo Jr. was sentenced to 30 years in prison for racketeering, conspiracy, and related offenses in July 2015.
Nicodemo Scarfo (Sr.) died in prison on January 13, 2017, reportedly of cancer. He was 87 years old at the time.
Nicodemo Scarfo was an avid fan of Hollywood actor Humphrey Bogart, and even named his waterfront home in Florida 'Casablanca South', calling his 40-foot cabin cruiser which was docked behind the property 'Casablanca Usual Suspects'; these are both a reference to Bogart's famous movie 'Casablanca'.
Along with being a boxing fan, he was a chess player too, which he learned during one of his prison sentences.

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