Back in 1989 Nicodemo S. Scarfo also known as “Nicky Jr” was shot several times by a masked gunman in an attempted mafia hit in South Philadelphia. Nicky Jr’s father Nicodemo “Little Nicky” Scarfo ran the Philly mob from 1982 until 1988 when he was convicted of racketeering including multiple counts of murder. The mob hit was believed to be a part of an ongoing internal war for control of the Philadelphia Mafia between then boss Little Nicky Scarfo and Salvatore “Chuckie” Merlino after Scarfo’s went to prison. Nicky Jr was shot a total of 8 times as he sat having dinner at Dante’s & Luigi’s restaurant but some how survived the violent attack. The hit has gone unsolved for years although tons of speculation has continued through the years about who the shooter was that night. Many in and around mob circles believed that it was Joseph “Skinny Joey” Merlino who pulled the trigger that night on orders from his father Salvatore Merlino.
Joey Merlino has always denied having any involvement in the botched mob hit and he was never charged even though many believed it was him. Until now no one officially had ever pointed the finger at Merlino as being the shooter at least no one in a position of authority. But at the ongoing trial of Nicky Scarfo Jr for his involvement in the illegal take over of FirstPlus Financial former FBI agent Kenneth Terracciano fingered Merlino as the shooter while on the witness stand. Terracciano was giving the jury a run down of mafia structure and rules when he told jurors he believed that it was Joey Merlino who had tried to kill Nicky Jr back in 1989 on orders from his father Salvatore.
After the attempt on his life Nicky Jr was sent to New Jersey by his father under the protection of the Lucchese crime family. It is alleged that later on the younger Scarfo officially became a member of the Lucchese family of the New York Mafia and that the illegal takeover of FirstPlus was part of a mafia ploy.