John Gervasoni was an executive at Scorpio Music, a distributor headquartered in Trenton, in the 1970s and 80s. According to multiple sources, Scorpio specialized in “cutout” distribution deals. They would buy bulk shipments of records from major record labels that were going to be dropped from the labels’ catalogs. In order to make these deals attractive, the labels included limited quantities of new releases from popular artists, known as “sweeteners.” It was not unusual for these distributors to counterfeit these new releases, although the practice was difficult for both law enforcement and the record companies to track.
In the mid-1980s, Gervasoni became a bit player in the federal income tax evasion prosecution of Salvatore Pisello. According to the Feds, Piselli was a reputed mobster who had a deal with MCA to distribute recordings and merchandise for the ground-breaking rap label, Sugar Hill Records. Piselli was convicted of income tax evasion in March of 1985 and was sentenced to two years in prison.
According to Dan Moldea, author of Dark Victory: Ronald Reagan, MCA and the Mob, (Viking, 1986), Gervasoni testified at Pisello’s trial about payments for MCA cutout titles that he said that he didn’t receive. In March of 1986, MCA sued Scorpio Records and Gervasoni for alleged counterfeiting, and Gervasoni sued MCA, accusing the label of fraud. Both suits were thrown out n June, 1986, according to Moldea.