A former Bucks County prosecutor who went to jail 10 years ago for embezzling real-estate settlement funds, admitted in court today that he used his job as a mortgage broker to steal from clients again.
Joseph James Scafidi, 53, of Warminster, pleaded guilty in Delaware County Court to felony counts of theft and forgery for stealing mortgage payments, writing bad checks, and fabricating a phony order from a county judge. Scafidi, who worked as a public defender and a deputy district attorney in Bucks County before he was disbarred in 1996, faces up to seven years in prison and a $15,000 fine for each of six charges.
Prosecutors will ask that Scafidi serve state prison time (at least two years) and pay restitution of at least $20,000 - the amount he stole from his latest five victims, said Gregory Hurchalla, a deputy district attorney in Delaware County.
Scafidi was also placed on house arrest today after he cashed a check for several hundred dollars knowing that the account was closed, thereby violating his bail conditions. Hurchalla also asked that Scafidi be prevented from working in the mortgage business.
Scafidi worked as an attorney for 16 years. In 1996, he was accused of embezzling $264,000 in real estate settlement fees from a Fort Washington title company and was disbarred.
Scafidi pleaded guilty to the charges in 1998 and was sentenced to 10 to 23 months in county prison, where he was immediately granted work release for a sales position at a different mortgage company, Action Mortgage in North Wales. His work there was meant to help him pay back the company he defrauded.
Scafidi's latest thefts occurred in Delaware, Montgomery and Bucks Counties. In one case, two victims, Kenneth Bickings and Regina Mancini, were forced to postpone their April wedding while they sort out their finances, according to a criminal complaint.
Scafidi persuaded the couple to refinance two homes Bickings owned and then pocketed subsequent mortgage payments totaling $15,000. When default notices went out, Scafidi forged a court order that included assurances that no action on the houses was imminent. He faced similar charges in Montgomery and Bucks Counties, which were consolidated with the Delaware County charges .
Scafidi told Delaware County Judge Gregory Mallon today that he quit the mortgage business this week and will begin working at night, cleaning air ducts in restaurants.