White-Collar Crime

Defendant Lawyer in Lender-Racketeering Case Seeks Severance From 'La Cosa Nostra Allegations'

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An attorney representing a Pennsylvania lawyer in a federal racketeering case concerning the claimed takeover and looting of a Texas-based mortgage company is seeking to sever his client’s trial from that of a co-defendant facing what the defense attorney calls “La Cosa Nostra allegations.”

Otherwise, argues the severance motion, Gary McCarthy, 53, could be prejudiced by claims of mob connections that could prompt a jury to find the tax and estate-planning lawyer “guilty by association rather than by real evidence,” reports the Philadelphia Inquirer.

A total of 13 defendants, including five lawyers, were charged in a November racketeering indictment in federal court in Camden, N.J. All pleaded not guilty.

The indictment contends that McCarthy helped set up companies and business transactions related to the claimed racketeering scheme involving FirstPlus Financial Group Inc.

It alleges that two principal defendants including Nicodemo Scarfo Jr., 46, who is the son of a jailed Philadelphia organized crime boss, oversaw a scheme in which the participants took over the board of the publicly traded FirstPlus Financial and looted the company of at least $12 million, according to the newspaper article and a previous ABAJournal.com post.

Also charged are New York lawyer David Adler, 64, who worked on securities filings for FirstPlus; Texas attorney William Maxwell, 52, who is accused of taking $3.5 million in legal fees while doing minimal work for the company; and New Jersey lawyer Donald Manno, 65, who has represented one of the claimed leaders of the scheme as a defense attorney.

Cory A. Leshner, a Pennsylvania lawyer who is in his late twenties or early thirties, is among the 13 defendants, too, according to a Reading Eagle article published last year.

He is accused of working to create fraudulent accounting records for the day-to-day operations of the claimed scheme, as well as managing bank and credit accounts and misstating the way in which proceeds were used by the now-bankrupt company, the newspaper reports.

Additional and related coverage:

ABAJournal.com: “5 Lawyers, Ex-Crime Boss Son Among 13 Indicted in Alleged Lender Takeover by Racketeer Enterprise”

Gloucester County Times: “Ocean City man pleads guilty to supplying ammunition to Nicky Scarfo’s son, other felon”

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