A former Bucks County prosecutor who went to jail 10 years ago for embezzling real estate settlement fees admitted in court yesterday that he had 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 an 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 at least two years in state prison and pay at least $20,000 in restitution - 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 yesterday, accused of violating his bail conditions by cashing a check for several hundred dollars from an account he knew was closed. Hurchalla also asked that Scafidi be prevented from working in the mortgage business.
Scafidi worked as a lawyer for 16 years. In 1996, he was accused of embezzling $264,000 in real estate settlement fees from a Fort Washington title company.
Scafidi pleaded guilty in 1998 and was sentenced to 10 to 23 months in county prison. To help him repay the company he defrauded, he immediately was granted work release for a sales position at a different mortgage company.
Scafidi's latest thefts occurred in Delaware, Montgomery and Bucks Counties. The charges were consolidated in Delaware County.
In one case, Kenneth Bickings and Regina Mancini had to postpone their April wedding while they sorted out their finances, according to a criminal complaint. Scafidi persuaded the couple to refinance two homes Bickings owned in Collingdale and then pocketed subsequent mortgage payments totaling $15,000. When default notices went out, Scafidi forged a court order assuring that no action on the houses was imminent.
Scafidi told Judge Gregory Mallon yesterday that he had quit the mortgage business this week and would begin working at night, cleaning air ducts in restaurants.