Reputed mob boss Nicodemo (Little Nicky) Scarfo and four associates were acquitted Saturday by a federal jury of charges that they had conspired to take over a multimillion-dollar drug ring.
People in the courtroom burst into applause as the jury foreman read a verdict of "not guilty" on each of five counts against Scarfo, the alleged leader of the mob in Philadelphia and Atlantic City, N.J.
The four men and eight women jurors deliberated seven hours in two days before announcing the verdict. Scarfo and some of the other defendants threw their fists in the air in a spontaneous salute as cheers filled the room.
But the verdict does not mean freedom for Scarfo, 58, who faces 14 years in prison for his conviction on charges of plotting to extort $1 million from a developer. He also faces trial in three murder cases in Pennsylvania and New Jersey.
Scarfo and four alleged members of his organized crime family were accused of trying to corner the local methamphetamine market by importing and distributing more than 100 gallons of phenyl-2-propanone (P2P), an ingredient in methamphetamine, or speed.
"This jury looked at this case that they (the prosecutors) put on, and it stunk, and they brought back the appropriate verdict," said Oscar Goodman, the lawyer who represented Philip Leonetti, the alleged No. 2 man in Scarfo's organization.
Goodman said the verdict indicated that jurors did not believe the prosecution's chief witnesses, two mobsters-turned-informants whose testimony provided the bulk of the government's case.