Joseph (Skinny Joey) Merlino the alleged boss of the Philadelphia mafia has reportedly balked at a plea offer from the feds in the East Coast LCN Enterprise racketeering case.
The 55-year-old mobster who now resides in Florida was back in The City of Brotherly Love this week for trial prep according to report from Fox29’s Dave Schratwieser. What was once considered a major mafia indictment has all but fallen apart due to an internal probe into potential misdeeds by FBI agents as previously reported here. This development led to the feds offering to drop the top charge of racketeering and allow many of the more than 40 defendants including Joey Merlino to plead guilty to lesser crimes. According to reports, the plea deal offered to Skinny Joey who is charged with health care fraud and illegal gambling calls for him to spend approx two years behind bars.
The feds also want some defendants including Merlino to forfeit large amounts of cash which in his case is reportedly in the hundreds of thousands of dollars. These large cash forfeitures have allegedly been one of the major stumbling blocks for the defendants that have so far refused to agree to the plea offers. According to the feds, Merlino and alleged New York mafia captains Pasquale (Patsy) Parrello and Eugene (Rooster) O’Nofrio were leaders of this so-called mafia enterprise. Patsy Parrello according to reports has agreed to take a plea deal which calls for him to spend between five to seven years behind bars a far cry from the over 40 years he was previously facing.
Merlino who was previously facing up to 20 years behind bars was released from jail on $5 million dollar bail shortly after being arrested last year. According to the report, Merlino met with attorney Ed Jacobs in Philly as they get ready for what should be a very interesting trial which is probably still months away. There is still a possibility that Merlino and Jacobs could be trying to leverage the threat of going to trial in an effort to get a better plea offer than originally offered. Although Joey doesn’t seem to keen on the idea of pleading guilty to anything according to sources may like his chances in court now that the case is in limbo.
Most of the case against Merlino is tied to wiretap evidence collected John Rubio a former Genovese crime family associate turned cooperating witness. The mishandling of Rubio and the wiretap evidence he collected by FBI agents is reportedly at the heart of this internal probe which could potentially lead to it all being compromised. Perhaps Merlino believes there has been so much damage done that the odds favor him at trial and he could beat the feds and walk away from the whole damn thing scot-free.