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U.S. Supreme Court Denies Mafia Mortgage Appeal

Feb 21, 2023
Mafia Money
Senior Editor

Appeal of conviction for stealing $14 million from Texas lender denied.

The U.S. Supreme Court on Tuesday declined to review the convictions of a member of the Lucchese organized Mafia crime family, and three accomplices, who stole over $14 million from a Dallas mortgage firm in less than a year.

The Supreme Court had received a writ of certiorari in the case of Scarfo, Nicodemo S. v. United States. A writ of certiorari is a request for the court to order a lower court to send up the record of the case for review. The high court denied that request.

When arrested, the quartet claimed what they did was just "normal, run-of-the-mill" business practices, but it was more like typical Mafia practices. 

As NMP reported in July 2022, the four defendants were convicted for their respective roles in the takeover and subsequent looting of FirstPlus Financial Group, a publicly held mortgage company based in Dallas. The defendants used extortionate threats to take control of the company, causing a loss of more than $14 million and leaving more than 1,000 shareholders with investments that had been rendered worthless.

Scarfo and Pelullo were each sentenced to 30 years in prison; William Maxwell was sentenced to 20 years in prison; and John Maxwell was sentenced to 10 years in prison.

Originally, the four men, according to court filings, sought to legitimately invest in the company. There was just one problem. They didn’t have the money to do so.

Enter Jack Draper, a high-ranking employee at FirstPlus who had been fired. Draper had griped about his firing to Jack Roubinek — the two having become acquainted while employed at FirstPlus — and to William Maxwell. Roubinek was trying to put a group together to purchase FirstPlus.

Those three were joined by David Roberts, a mortgage broker from Staten Island, and Pelullo for a meeting in Dallas, where Draper, “bearing a grudge,” told the group he was willing to “divulge all” and falsely accuse the FirstPlus board and CEO Daniel Phillips of financial and personal improprieties (including a purported sexual assault and impregnation of a personal assistant who was paid off with company funds).

The threats had their intended effect. The appeals court decision said Phillips met with William Maxwell and Pelullo, who indicated the allegations would be dropped if Phillips and the FirstPlus board handed the business over to them.

The quartet’s greed came to light when Scarfo attempted to take over the Philadelphia branch of the Lucchese crime family. The FBI stumbled upon the FirstPlus scheme and seized the four men’s assets (including a yacht, Bentley, and private plane) in May 2008. They would be indicted in October 2011 and convicted in July 2014. An appeal in July 2022 upheld the convictions.

About the author
Senior Editor
Keith Griffin is a senior editor at NMP.
Feb 21, 2023
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