Pennsylvania

Nicodemo Scarfo, ex-Philadelphia mob boss, dies in prison

Nicodemo "Little Nicky" Scarfo, whose reign over the Philadelphia Mafia in the 1980s was one of the bloodiest in its history, has died at a federal medical center in North Carolina. He was 87.

Bureau of Prisons spokeswoman Nancy Ayers says Scarfo died Saturday. No cause of death was released.

Scarfo led the Philadelphia-southern New Jersey mob from 1981 until around the time he and more than a dozen associates were convicted of racketeering charges in 1988.

Philadelphia Inquirer reporter George Anastasia described the 5-foot-5 mobster with the high-pitched voice as "a greedy, ruthless despot" who reveled in "senseless violence." The Philadelphia Daily News referred to him as "the undersized Atlantic City man with the oversized temper."

Ultimately, Scarfo's vengeance and mismanagement forced several associates to be witnesses for prosecutors.