News Column

Mob Figure Awaiting Trial Unloads in Blog Posts

Oct. 10, 2012

George Anastasia

In courtroom appearances over the last 10 months, reputed mob associate Salvatore Pelullo has blasted the FBI for investigating him, criticized the U.S. Attorney's Office for prosecuting him, and claimed that the federal judge who will preside at his trial is biased.

Now Pelullo, an Elkins Park businessman and alleged mastermind of the multimillion-dollar looting of FirstPlus Financial, a Texas mortgage company, has moved his complaining to the Internet.

Meet Salvatore L. Pelullo, inmate blogger.

Pelullo, who is being held without bail in the Federal Detention Center in Philadelphia, is the driving force behind the eponymous salvatorepelullo.blogspot.com.

In a series of posts that began in August, he has expanded on the verbal screeds that have marked his court appearances before Judge Robert Kugler in Camden.

Pelullo; mobster Nicodemo S. Scarfo, the son of jailed Philadelphia mob boss Nicodemo "Little Nicky" Scarfo; and 10 others are to be tried before Kugler next year in the fraud case.

Pelullo and Scarfo are being held without bail. All the other defendants have been freed pending trial.

Kugler, who denied a motion from Pelullo to recuse himself because of bias, is the target of the latest post, a sarcastic parody titled "My Confessions" filed last week.

"I am the Boss," Pelullo wrote in the post, in which he assumed the persona of the judge. "I am a man of honor and integrity . . . who holds power over life and death . . . a man who secretly believes I am above the Law."

Pelullo, as Kugler, goes on to write about the "underlings" and "enforcers" who do his "bidding." They are later identified as federal prosecutors and FBI agents.

"I am a well organized machine. I am Justice and I shall wield as I please. Who am I? My a.k.a. is Robert Kugler."

Pelullo's court-appointed attorney, Troy Archie, said he was aware of his client's posts but emphasized that he was not involved.

"I have no input into the blog," Archie said last week. "He has his own theories about the case. I try to stick with the evidence in front of me in court."

A friend of Pelullo's, who set up the blog, said "he wants to get people interested in his case . . . and aware of what's going on."

The friend, who asked not to be identified, said Pelullo sends his posts via regular mail or e-mail and they are then transferred to the blog site.

Kugler and officials with the U.S. Attorney's Office declined to comment.

Tracy Longacre, the public information officer for the Federal Detention Center in Philadelphia, said that inmates do not have access to the Internet but that the prison has no control over what third parties do with information inmates may send them.

Pelullo's blogging is "not unique," she said; there are dozens of inmate blogs.

Last year, reputed Mafia kingpin Thomas "Tommy Shots" Gioeli, awaiting trial in a multiple murder case in New York, launched a blog in which he ranted about everything from the evidence and witnesses against him to prison conditions.

Gioeli quickly became known as "the Blogfather."

Indications are that Pelullo's postings have not attracted the kind of following that Gioeli generated. But that hasn't stopped him.

In an earlier blog post, in September, Pelullo listed many of the arguments contained in a pretrial motion in which he sought to have Kugler recuse himself.

Pelullo argued that since the federal judge authorized many of the FBI wiretaps in the FirstPlus investigation, he has preconceived notions about the case and cannot be impartial.

Kugler, who has presided over several high-profile trials, including the "Fort Dix Five" terrorism case, denied the motion.

The judge also rejected a motion from Assistant U.S. Attorney Steven D'Aguanno for a court-ordered examination to determine Pelullo's mental competency.

D'Aguanno, like Kugler, is the target of several of Pelullo's pointed comments. Both the judge and prosecutor have conspired to deny him bail, Pelullo wrote in a sometimes grammatically challenged post titled "I will not go quietly into the night."

Pelullo wrote that he was neither a danger to the community nor a risk of flight, the two reasons cited in denying bail. But, he wrote, he remains behind bars because "releasing me gives me a fair chance to 1) win the case and vindicate myself and 2) I will expose Mr. D'Aguanno for what and who he really is to the extent he would find himself being a resident of FDC, himself."

The blog posts are a continuation of allegations and challenges Pelullo has made in court at several pretrial hearings.

At one, he called the investigation "a joke" and told D'Aguanno, "You've already lost, you just don't know it yet."

At another, he criticized Kugler for failing to wish him a happy birthday after the judge inquired about the health of an assistant prosecutor who had a baby. Pelullo later argued that was an example of Kugler's bias against him.

Pelullo, 45, and Scarfo, 46, are accused of orchestrating the takeover of FirstPlus Financial in 2007 and 2008. The indictment alleges that the two siphoned more than $12 million out of the company through a series of fraudulent business deals and phony contracts.

The charges stem from a lengthy FBI investigation that began in 2007 when, authorities allege, Pelullo and Scarfo secretly took over the board of directors of the company and had behind-the-scenes control of decision-making.

Ten others, including several lawyers and an accountant, also have been charged in the 25-count indictment. Kugler has denied motions by several defendants who asked to be severed from the case and tried separately from Pelullo and Scarfo because of their alleged mob ties and reputations.

Pelullo has been described by several former associates as highly volatile, demanding, and demeaning. That, they say, comes out in his blogs. Supporters, however, say he is just trying to state his case, which he believes has not been accurately portrayed in the media.

"Prosecution or persecution," Pelullo wrote in a September post. "If you are a prisoner, excuse me, a pretrial detainee, you are expected to go quietly . . . I Salvatore L. Pelullo will not go quietly into the night."



Source: (c)2012 The Philadelphia Inquirer. Distributed by MCT Information Services.


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