Threats Are Heard On Tape Played At Video-poker Trial

Posted: January 13, 1990

Santo "Chester Sam" Idone, reputed captain in what is left of the Nicodemo Scarfo crime family, smiled sheepishly at jurors in federal court yesterday as an FBI wiretap was played.

In it, Idone, 70, of Brookhaven, Delaware County, and St. Petersburg, Fla., is heard sputtering obscenities and threats about a would-be competitor to what federal prosecutors describe as an illegal video-poker gambling empire in Delaware County - a racket they say netted Idone and associates about $2,000 a day. Later yesterday, a former Scarfo associate accused Idone of

helping to plan a mob murder.

Idone's attorney, John Rogers Carroll, had tried to characterize his client as a man who had become caught up in a federal investigation of gambling, extortion and loan-sharking in Delaware County while acting as a sounding board for a younger friend, Gary S. Iacona, 45, of Parkside.

Both men, along with associates Mario Eufrasio, 61, of Palermo, N.J., and Francis Peticca, 38, of Chester, are on trial on charges of conspiracy, extortion and racketeering. The charges cover alleged illegal activities in Chester from 1982 to 1986.

On an FBI wiretap from Sept. 23, 1986, Idone is heard telling Iacona and

Peticca that a Chester bar employee who had disabled their video machines should either be shot or given a "good workout."

Tell him "next time I'm gonna put two . . . bullets, one in one eye and one in the other," Idone says on the tape.

Prosecutors say the wiretap was placed in the back office of the Iacona Auto Center at Sixth Street and Concord Avenue. When FBI agents raided the auto center on Dec. 9, 1986, they found dozens of video-poker machines and about $23,000. The four defendants were arrested last January.

During cross-examination, Carroll has tried to shift the leading role in the alleged gambling and loan-sharking to Iacona. But former FBI agent William Holmes, who participated in the investigation, said Iacona was a partner in the loan-sharking but reported to Idone on decisions regarding the video machines. Holmes characterized Peticca as a bookkeeper and debt-collector for Idone and Iacona, while Eufrasio was said to have acted as go-between for loan-shark customers.

Nino Tinari, attorney for Iacona, suggested during cross-examination of Holmes that the loan-shark customers whom Eufrasio is heard discussing on FBI tapes never existed. Tinari said Eufrasio could have invented customers to get money from his friends and feed his gambling habit.

Idone and his associates on trial have denied any connection with the Philadelphia-area mob, but former Scarfo soldier-turned-informant Eugene Milano, 30, yesterday testified that Idone helped arrange a plan to murder Thomas "Tommy Spats" Auferio in 1983.

In a controlled, dispassionate voice, Milano told the court about two meetings between slain former Scarfo captain Salvatore Testa and Idone in South Philadelphia near a bar called the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly. Milano said that Idone promised to get one of his soldiers to find and murder Auferio, who was in the Poconos at the time. Auferio died of natural causes last February.

Both Milano's testimony and wiretaps indicate that in 1986, Idone and Iacona discussed attending the wedding of a friend of Scarfo.

Carroll, however, attempted to cast Milano as a ruthless thug who would do anything, including violating the Mafia's code of silence to testify against his brother in an unrelated racketeering case, to save himself.

Milano, who started cooperating with federal authorities last year to avoid the death penalty on an earlier murder conviction, is expected to be further cross-examined by defense attorneys when the trial resumes Tuesday.

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