Tuesday, June 17, 2014
FirstPlus Financial Racketeering Fraud Trial Heading To Jury
Veteran organized crime reporter George Anastasia is covering the FirstPlus trial for Bigtrial.net.
After nearly six months of testimony and more than a week of detailed and grueling closing arguments, jury deliberations are set to being in the FirstPlus Financial racketeering fraud trial of mobster Nicodemo S. Scarfo and six co-defendants.
Donald Manno, Scarfo's former criminal defense attorney and a co-defendant in the case, is expected to complete his closing arguments this morning. Manno, who is representing himself, will be the final defense attorney to address the anonymously chosen jury panel.
A rebuttal closing argument this afternoon from the prosecution will complete the argument phase of the trial, setting the stage for the start of deliberations either late today or tomorrow.
Manno was detailed and highly effective yesterday afternoon when he spoke to the jury for about an hour. The one-time federal prosecutor, who referred to himself in the third person, told the jury to consider the facts and not the "diversions, distortions and false circumstantial evidence" around which the prosecution has built its case.
"Don Manno was not involved in any conspiracy," he told the jury.
But he made it clear that he couldn't say the same thing for some of his co-defendants. In particular, he singled out Salvatore Pelullo and Scarfo, both of whom, he said, rejected his advice and lied to him. Manno argued that he was kept in the dark about many of the financial dealings involving FirstPlus, a troubled Texas-based mortgage company that authorities allege Pelullo and Scarfo secretly took control of in 2007.
Pelullo, described as the "key figure" in the fraud by Assistant U.S. Attorney Stephen D'Aguanno, used bogus consulting contracts and phony business transactions to siphon $12 million out of the company, the government alleges. Much of the money was used to finance a luxurious lifestyle that included the purchase of a $850,000 yacht, a $207,000 Bentley and a home near Atlantic City for $715,000 for Scarfo and his new wife, Lisa.
You can read the rest of the piece via the below link: