Joseph “Skinny Joey” Merlino the alleged boss of the Philadelphia mafia has been released from prison on $5 million dollars bail.
Merlino has been in prison since he was arrested along with more than 40 other alleged mafia members and associates on August 4th. Merlino is allowed to work from 7 a.m.-7 p.m. at his restaurant “Merlino’s” and travel to NY, NJ, and Pennsylvania including attending a family day at his daughter’s college according to reports. But Merlino is being required to live in his Boca Raton home and wear an ankle bracelet. U.S. Magistrate Judge William Matthewson asked the 54-year-old mobster for assurances that he would obey the conditions of his release to which Merlino replied: “Don’t worry your honor, you won’t.”
Merlino is facing up to 20 years behind bars for federal racketeering charges which claim he was one of the leaders of an East Coast Cosa Nostra network labeled “East Coast LCN Enterprise” by the feds. Health-care fraud and illegal gambling are among the charges in the racketeering case against Skinny Joey. According to prosecutors the mob enterprise led by Merlino and New York mafia based Genovese family capos Eugene “Rooster” O’Nofrio and Pasquale “Patsy” Parrello operated in Florida, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, and Massachusetts. The group engaged in extortion, illegal gambling, loansharking, casino-style gambling, credit card and health-care fraud.
Prosecutors originally fought to deny Merlino bail calling him a flight risk and a danger to the community but shifted their position on Friday agreeing to his release. When opposing bail earlier in the week they noted in the indictment that Merlino had been caught on recordings supervising a number of individuals, questioning whether or not certain associates were rats. They also noted some of his recent illegal activities took place while he was on parole restriction administered upon his release from prison in 2011 after serving a 12-year sentence. In fact, Merlino spent three months in prison in 2014 for violating his parole by socializing with Philly mobster John Ciancaglini in Florida.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Aurora Fagan was asked about the change of heart and said she could not explain it and that the decision was made in New York where the investigation was based. Merlino’s lawyer, David Roth said: “Mr. Merlino knows he will be under a microscope and that if he commits any violations of the conditions of his release he will face the full consequences of the law.”