Joseph “Skinny Joey” Merlino still considered the boss of the Philadelphia mafia by many including law enforcement is in the final weeks of his four month prison sentence for a parole violation set to be released on May 3rd. He will have not only finished his current sentence but also be off parole restrictions and unhindered by the government , but will he soon be facing more prison time ? According to Scott Burnstein and the Gangster Report the feds are attempting to build a new RICO case against Merlino and other Philly mafia leaders.
According to sources the new case being worked on by the feds could target both Merlino and his right hand man and current acting boss Steven Mazzone among others. The latest indictments could include more charges in the mob hit of Gino DiPietro back on 2012 and possibly other murders dating back to the 1990’s. The feds believe the DiPietro hit was carried out by Anthony Nicodemo and Dominic “Baby Dom” Grande. Nicodemo was fingered as the get away driver and has already plead guilty to taking part in the hit although Grande who feds fingered as shooter has yet to be officially charged.
The hit was sanctioned at the highest levels of the Philly mob including Joey Merlino according to a source of Burnstein’s. A meeting between Merlino and Nicodemo is believed to have taken place in the weeks leading up to the hit along with a separate meeting between Mazzone, Nicodemo, and Grande confirming the go ahead right before the hit took place. Merlino was back in Philadelphia in November of 2012 for the funeral of his father and former Philly mobster Salvatore “Chuckie” Merlino which was exactly one month before the DiPietro hit.
Merlino visited his old neighborhood for a week leading up to the funeral and sources say it was during this time he met with Nicodemo and approved the hit. Then on December 11 the meeting between Mazzone, Grande, and Nicodemo took place at a undisclosed location putting the plan in motion. The hit ended up taking place on a crowded Philly street in broad daylight and may be one of the most poorly planned and executed mafia hit in history. It is believed that DiPietro was killed because he may have had information about the previous mob murder of John “Johnny Gongs” Casasanto back in 2003 in which both Merlino and Nicodemo have long been considered suspects in.
It has been rumored that the feds were keeping tabs on Merlino and his activities in Florida where he has lived since he completed his stretch for a racketeering conviction. Whether or not the feds can actually make their new RICO case is definitely not a certainty as they have whiffed on pending cases such as this before, until the charges are handed down it will remain speculation.