Joseph “Skinny Joey” Merlino was back on the streets of Philadelphia according to sources making rounds and meeting with members of his old mob crew over the weekend. Many including the FBI believe that Merlino is still the boss of the Philly mafia running things on streets through his long time friends and street boss Steven Mazzone. After completing a short prison sentence on a parole violation Merlino is no longer under any parole restrictions and is free to travel and meet with whoever he chooses. This recent weekend trip to the City of Brotherly Love is sure to fan the speculation that he is still in control of the Philly mob and was possibly there making sure things were in line.
Merlino has been living down in Boca Raton since he was released from prison after being convicted on racketeering charges back in 2001. Merlino has since continued to deny he has any remaining ties to the mob life and has nothing more to do with the mafia in Philadelphia. Mazzone was believed to have taken over as acting boss shortly after former acting boss Joseph Ligambi was indicted in 2011 along with other high ranking members of the administration at that time.
Sources have speculated that now a power sharing situation may have developed with a ruling panel consisting of Steve Mazzone, Phil Narducci, and John Ciancaglini in control with Ligambi acting as a sort of consigliere although partially retired. Narducci is a well respected member of the mob and part of the old Scarfo era crew who have recently resurfaced in Philly after doing long prison terms. This new ruling panel could of been constructed to keep tensions down and things from turning violent between the rival crews now operating on streets.
Whether Mazzone still sits at the head of the hierarchy on the streets today or a ruling panel has been appointed it still leaves many wondering if Merlino is still pulling the strings from his new Florida home. Is Merlino planning to eventually move back to Philadelphia to regain his seat at the head of the mafia in Philly or does he simply remain in Florida and run things from afar. Perhaps Merlino has been true to his word and has left the life for good although knowing Joey’s history that seems like a less likely option. Oh as the world turns inside of today’s Philadelphia mafia.