Scarfo Son In Coma After Apparent Suicide Try

Posted: November 02, 1988

The youngest son of reputed mob boss Nicodemo "Little Nicky" Scarfo remained in critical condition today after apparently trying to hang himself yesterday afternoon in an office next to his Atlantic City home.

As the son, Mark Scarfo, 17, lay comatose in Atlantic City Medical Center, a racketeering trial continued in the federal courthouse here this morning for the elder Scarfo and 16 codefendants. The trial had been recessed yesterday afternoon when word of the suicide attempt reached the courtroom.

Authorities said paramedics found Mark Scarfo, the youngest of Nicky Scarfo's three sons, hanging with a rope around his neck in a bathroom at 28 N. Georgia Ave., the office of Scarf Inc., a concrete company owned by his cousin, Philip Leonetti.

Young Scarfo was admitted to the hospital at 3:13 p.m. and placed in the intensive care unit. Later, Dr. James Bagnell, chairman of the department of emergency services, said young Scarfo had suffered cardiac arrest at some point, which deprived his brain of oxygen for an undetermined period of time. He said the next 24 hours will be "crucial," and it may be several days before the extent of possible brain damage is known.

A hospital spokesman said this morning that Scarfo's vital signs were stable, although he remained comatose.

Robert F. Simone, Nicky Scarfo's attorney, said in the courtroom this morning that he'd been told Mark Scarfo was "slightly better." He said the older Scarfo was taking the news of the incident "very badly" and said "the only reason we're continuing the case is because of the other defendants."

Simone added, "The jury's not supposed to hear about it and the jury won't hear about it." Word of the suicide attempt reached the courtroom yesterday after the jury had been excused for a recess.

Simone said yesterday he would not ask federal marshals to take Scarfo, who is in custody, to the hospital because of the security problems involved.

Sources said young Scarfo was a poor student who had been in trouble in high school for fighting.

A family friend, who did not want to be named, said young Scarfo had been having problems with drugs.

Detective Sgt. Joe McCullough of the Atlantic City Police Department said no suicide note was found.

Sources, however, speculated that young Scarfo was distraught over his father's legal problems.

The elder Scarfo has been jailed since January 1987. Since then, he has been acquitted in separate trials of a murder charge and federal drug charges, and convicted of trying to extort $1 million from Penn's Landing developer Willard Rouse III. He was sentenced to 14 years in prison in the Rouse case.

After word of the suicide attempt reached the courtroom, Nick Scarfo Jr., Mark's older brother, was seen in the hallway being consoled by relatives of his father's codefendants.

Inside the courtroom, an eerie silence fell as the news was passed to the defendants.

Prosecutor Louis R. Pichini and Simone left the courtroom to tell Judge Franklin S. Van Antwerpen about the situation. When the judge returned to the bench, he stopped the trial for the day and expressed his sympathy.

"I'm saddened by the news, Mr. Scarfo," the judge said.

An ashen Scarfo nodded his appreciation for the judge's remarks. He appeared devastated as another prosecutor, Joseph Peters, expressed his condolences.

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