A judge has approved a request from reputed Philadelphia mafia boss Joseph (Skinny Joey) Merlino to attend the Michael Caudo wedding in Florida although not at the same time as co-defendant Anthony Cirillo.
To make sure the two remain separated the judge ordered the alleged mobsters split the wedding in half. Cirillo a reputed Gambino crime family associate was ordered to skip the wedding and appear only at the subsequent reception. Merlino is serving as Caudo’s best man and will be allowed to attend the rehearsal dinner and the wedding ceremony leaving immediately upon its completion. At no time are the alleged mobsters allowed to communicate with each other in any way according to the court order.
Merlino is out on $5 million dollar bond after being arrested last August in the massive mafia crackdown on what the feds have called the East Coast LCN Enterprise. According to the feds, Merlino along with reputed Genovese family capo’s Pasquale Parrello and Eugene O’Nofrio were leaders of the vast organized crime enterprise that including members of four of the five New York mafia families and Philly mafia. As part of his release conditions the alleged Cosa Nostra boss is typically confined to his home between 7 p.m. and 7 a.m. and is not allowed to make any contact with his racketeering co-defendant.
The feds case has since fallen on hard times as previously reported here due to potential misdeeds by federal agents. Prosecutors agreed to drop the top charge of racketeering allowing all 46 defendants in the case including Merlino to plead only to the lesser charges. Skinny Joey is charged with health care fraud and illegal gambling and has reportedly been offered a plea deal with sentencing guidelines calling for approx two years behind bars. But sources say Merlino who has never been to keen on the idea of having to plead guilty has turned down the offer and has decided to go to trial.
One of the reported stumbling blocks for 55-year-old Merlino and other defendants who have balked at the plea offers is a large amount of cash the feds want them to forfeit which in Merlino’s case is believed to be over $100,000. Sources have also reported that 72-year-old Parrello is also struggling with his plea offer which calls for him to spend about eight years behind bars and make a large cash forfeiture. A large majority of the other defendants in the mafia case many of which are charged with lower-level crimes have reportedly agreed to plea offers with sentencing guidelines of approx four to ten months while others charged with multiple extortions are being allowed to plead guilty to a single charge.
Plea deal negotiations are believed to still be ongoing and perhaps Joey Merlino is attempting to use his new found leverage to try and negotiate a better plea deal than what was originally offered. Although as the feds case has all but crumbled perhaps Merlino and others now believe the odd are in their favor making it worth the risk of going to trial.