By Helen Peterson
February 2, 2001, Friday
Copyright 2001 Knight Ridder/Tribune News Service Knight Ridder/Tribune News Service
Daily News (NY)
February 2, 2001, Friday
(NEW YORK) -- As Fourth of July fireworks erupted over Brooklyn in 1972, a white sedan pulled up to Joseph Scudiero. Two men emerged and threw the suspected murderer into the back seat. A few days later, the car was found riddled with bullets; Scudiero's blood and fingerprints were everywhere. Scudiero was gone _ only a day before his trial for the murder of a cop's son.
In the next months, his family tried to have him declared dead. They did not want to forfeit the $100,000 they'd put up in bail. But the courts refused _ and apparently with good reason.
Last week, Scudiero, 65, turned up very much alive. And now, the Daily News has learned, he's under arrest.
Scudiero's secret life began to unravel after he allegedly raped and sodomized a 12-year-old boy in West Falls, Pa., fleeing to Florida after those charges were filed last year. In the ensuing investigation, Pennsylvania law enforcement learned that Scudiero _ who had adopted the alias Joseph Monaco _ may have been involved in an old New York slaying. They alerted authorities here.
Investigators in New York then linked Monaco to Scudiero families in Queens and Pennsylvania, leading them to run a background check on Joseph Scudiero. They discovered his true identity and status as a fugitive.
Scudiero's life on the lam ended when he was arrested at a relative's house in Queens last week. At the time of his disappearance, Scudiero was under indictment in the Jan. 19, 1971, slaying of George Kelly, 28, the son of retired NYPD patrolman George Kelly Sr.
Scudiero's family members told cops in 1972 that two men _ one of them flashing a gold shield _ had jumped out of a car, grabbed Scudiero and told him he was under arrest. "He said, 'What am I being pinched for? Get me a lawyer,'" according to an affidavit filed at the time by Scudiero's now-deceased brother, Robert.
Robert Scudiero said the men threw his brother into a white sedan and took off, sources said. Days later, the car was found riddled with bullet holes, blood and Scudiero's fingerprints.
Sources said Joseph Scudiero claimed he fled because he feared retaliation from cops for killing the son of a police officer.
"He had staged what he wanted everyone to believe was his demise at the hands of police. He fled to Pennsylvania and has been running ever since," a source said.
A task force comprising deputy U.S. marshals, NYPD detectives and Immigration and Naturalization Service agents recently tracked Scudiero to Queens after he fled West Falls. As soon as he was taken into custody, Scudiero, who has a heart condition, suffered a possible heart attack and was taken to Bellevue Hospital. He's expected to get out of the hospital any day and appear before Manhattan Supreme Court Justice Brenda Soloff, according to the Manhattan district attorney's office.
Investigators believe Scudiero used two vials of his own blood to dress up the white sedan, sources told The News. Prosecutors at the time were suspicious of the disappearance and believed it was a ploy, though Scudiero couldn't be found anywhere, according to yellowed news clippings.
Investigators believe Scudiero may have been involved with organized crime, particularly because of his rap sheet, which dates to 1960 and includes counterfeiting and gambling charges. Old news stories identified him as a soldier in the Bonanno crime family.
Scudiero allegedly shot Kelly, an insurance salesman, three times, fatally, during a dispute in a Manhattan after-hours bar on West 14th Street. Scudiero and three other men allegedly stuffed the body in a car trunk. Kelly's body was never recovered.
Scudiero's lawyer, Mathew Mari, couldn't be reached for comment.
When he was arrested last week, Scudiero almost seemed relieved. "I'm glad you got me," sources quoted Scudiero as saying, "because I didn't want to have 'Joseph Monaco' on my tombstone."