Joseph Merlino the alleged boss of the Philadelphia mafia was busted in a sweeping indictment along with members of the New York mafia.
In total 46 alleged members and associates from four of the five NY mafia families were involved including the Genovese, Bonanno, Lucchese, and Gambino families along with Merlino from Philly mafia family. The charges included classic mafia crimes like illegal gambling, extortion, loansharking, and even health care fraud along with much more dating back to 2011. According to the feds the syndicate known as the “East Coast LCN Enterprise” operated in New York, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, Florida and New Jersey.
The feds claim that Merlino along with Genovese crime family capos Pasquale “Patsy” Parrello and Eugene O’Nofrio were the ringleaders of the enterprise. Information so far seems to point to what is being labeled as a “Racketeering lite” case against the flamboyant Merlino. Skinny Joey has seemingly been charged with multiple crimes including illegal gambling, health care fraud, and racketeering among others although the indictment lacks any murder charges or other violent crimes.
According to Merlino’s lawyer Ed Jacobs the indictment lacks specific info and he was quoted as saying “In a case like this we usually win” and they plan to fight the allegations. Jacobs who claimed the charges came from out of the blue also said “All I can tell you at this point is, I’ve seen a lot of racketeering indictments, and they’re usually fact- and date-specific. This one is not. It’s also very short on any allegations of violence, which most prosecutors claim is the foundation of organized crime. You read this indictment, and you don’t find so much as a single cinder block.” But according to early reports the feds had both a turncoat and undercover agent inside of the organization gathering intel.
Prosecutors claimed Merlino had “been captured on recordings supervising a number of individuals, questioning whether certain associates were ‘rats.” when arguing against his release in front of a West Palm Beach judge. Merlino was ordered to be held without bail pending a detention hearing on Tuesday. Merlino has a past history of mafia related crime including a 12 year stretch for racketeering and even though this case has been labeled as racketeering lite the alleged Cosa Nostra boss could be looking at an extended prison sentence if convicted. It is still unclear as to where the trail would be held for the 54 year old mobster but it could have an impact on the possibility of a plea deal being offered.
There are still rumors of possible second and third waves of charges to follow as investigations are ongoing in multiple places including Philadelphia and Florida.