Edwin Helfant

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Edwin Helfant (12 April 1926 – 15 February 1978) was an American lawyer in Atlantic City, New Jersey. He also worked as a part-time municipal court judge. Helfant gained posthumous notoriety when he was murdered by Philadelphia Mafia family member Nicholas Virgilio.


In 1972 Virgilio was convicted of murder. A fellow mafioso, Nicodemo Scarfo, contacted Helfant and delivered $12,000 to him, which was to be given to the Supreme Court judge handling the murder case as a bribe, in exchange for a lenient sentence for Virgilio.

However Virgilio received a 12-20 year sentence. In 1978 he was released on early parole, and vowed revenge on Helfant who apparently had not fulfilled his end of the deal.

Virgilio tracked Helfant and his wife to a cocktail lounge, where he shot Helfant 5 times with a .22 caliber pistol.

At the time of his death, Helfant was facing conviction for bribery, due to accusations of taking bribes to kick out cases in the Somers Point Municipal Court, where he worked as a part-time Justice.

In 1988 the then boss of the Philadelphia mafia and 16 co-defendants were charged under the 1970 Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO) and several other murders and drug dealing, extortion and loan-sharking. The defendants were convicted of Helfant's murder.

Virgilio was sentenced to a 40-year jail sentence, partly for this murder, but died of a heart attack on March 15, 1995 at the Federal Medical Center in Springfield, Mo., where he had been sent for heart treatment on Feb. 18, 1994. [Philly.com, 3-18-1995]


  • Blood and Honor, Inside the Scarfo Mob, the Mafia's Most Violent Family George Anastasia (1991 hardcover edition; 2003 paperback edition)