Scala was born in Fort Lee, New Jersey, to first-generation immigrants from Scala, Italy. Scala was married to Grace Ann Lino, the sister of Gambino mobster Edward Lino and the paternal cousin of Bonanno crime family mobster Frank Lino. Scala was a nephew of Genovese crime family mob associates Carmine and Francis Consalvo, and a maternal cousin of DeCavalcante crime family mobster Louis Consalvo.
In 1983, Scala was arrested for heroin trafficking, but the case was dropped. A close associate of John Gotti, Scala was a suspect in the 1985 murders of Gambino boss Paul Castellano and underboss Thomas Bilotti that brought Gotti to power. However, Scala was never charged in conjunction with either murder. In 1999, Scala was promoted to the rank of capo and oversaw a crew of ten made men and associates.
On May 18, 2001, Scala was convicted of extorting money from the owner of Cherry's Video, an adult entertainment store on Long Island. Part of the evidence included an undercover video of a Gambino soldier visiting the store. The judge sentenced Scala to 63 months in federal prison. In March 2007, Scala was convicted of tax evasion and of extorting $2.5 million from Manhattan's V.I.P. Club, an adult entertainment venue. Scala was sentenced to 72 months in prison.
- "Answers About the New York Mafia" New York Times, October 8, 2008
- "Reporter's Notebook; New Plea in Mob Case: Not Guilty, Just Stupid" By ALAN FEUER New York Times June 3, 2001
- UNITED STATES OF AMERICA v. CHARLES CARNEGLIA and SALVATORE SCALA LexisONE Community
- "Mob's Role in Strip Club Excuses Taxes, Judge Says" by Joel Stashenko New York Law Journal, December 10, 2009
- Marzulli, John (December 20, 2008). "Gambino wastes away in prison". New York Daily News. Retrieved 12 April 2012.
- Davis, John H. Mafia Dynasty: The Rise and Fall of the Gambino Crime Family. New York: HarperCollins, 1993. ISBN 0-06-016357-7
- New York Sun: Judge Gives Ailing Capo Sympathy, Little Else by Jerry Capeci
- John Gotti: The Last Mafia Icon by Allen May