Joseph “Skinny Joey” Merlino the alleged boss of the Philadelphia Mafia is facing various charges including racketeering stemming from last years bust of the East Coast LCN Enterprise.
The 55-year-old mobster has rejected multiple plea deals and now faces a significant amount of time behind bars if convicted. The trial begins today and the flamboyant Cosa Nostra leader seems to be upbeat and not at all bothered by the situation. In typical Merlino fashion, he even made a prediction from the courtroom saying “Deadlock win, all the way,” along with an additional hot tip saying “Oh, and bet the Eagles” according to an NYPost report. The feds case has definitely had its problems along the way but Merlino could still be facing an uphill battle as multiple cooperating witnesses line up to testify against him and feds roll out hundreds of secretly recorded conversations.
The feds claimed that Merlino along with alleged Genovese family capos Eugene “Rooster” Onofrio and Pasquale “Patsy” Parrello were leaders of this so-called East Coast La Cosa Nostra Enterprise. Parrello has already agreed to a plea deal along with all the other co-defendants in the case except for Merlino and Onofrio. They were both set to stand trial together but Onofrio’s trial has been delayed indefinitely due to health reasons leaving Merlino to go at it alone. Joey had his own health issues recently being hospitalized for a heart condition which was explained as two significant blockages in a court memo which led to a short delay in his trial.
The stakes are definitely high for Merlino who maintains he has done nothing wrong and thinks this trial is a chance to hold the feds accountable for actions he believes are criminal. According to a George Anastasia report, Joey said “If I had done what they did, I’d be indicted,” while explaining why he has refused to take any plea offers. But Merlino has already been convicted twice including a racketeering conviction back in 2001 that sent him to prison for 14 years. After his release from prison in 2012 Joey claimed that his life in organized crime had come to an end and he was looking forward to living a nice life down in Boca Raton with his family. He said there was “Too many rats” now and he wanted no part of that.
But the feds weren’t convinced saying Merlino continued to play a major role in the Philadelphia crime family from down in Florida. He remained on the feds radar eventually becoming a focus in this New York-based investigation into the mafia. According to report Bonanno family turncoat Peter “Pug” Lovaglio is set to take the stand on Tuesday and will be followed by the other cooperating witness which included the feds star witness John “JR” Rubeo. The trial is expected to last about a month and we will try to keep things updated as it moves long.