The Joey Merlino trial was basically put on pause Tuesday due to a sick juror so the cross-examination of star witness John “JR” Rubeo a former Genovese crime family associate continued Wednesday.
So far the racketeering trial has had its share of twist and turns as the alleged Philadelphia mafia boss tries to avoid another extended prison sentence. Rubeo has walked the jury through multiple secretly recorded conversations he had with Merlino and others including alleged mobster Eugene “Rooster” O’Nofrio detailed in an earlier report here. The feds claimed that Merlino, O’Nofrio, and Pasquale “Patsy” Parrello were the leaders of a mafia organization they called the East Coast LCN Enterprise that operated up and down the East Coast. As expected most of the feds case against Joey so far has been based upon the evidence collected by Rubeo who worked as an informant for approx five years.
It seems a majority of the cross-examinations by defense attorney Ed Jacobs on Wednesday focused on Merlino’s involvement or lack thereof in an insurance-fraud scheme the feds say he ran. So far it seems that Rubeo’s testimony has had its moments but has also been somewhat shaky especially under cross-examination as Jacob’s attempts to discredit him in front of the jury. But things really took an odd twist when Rubeo testified that Skinny Joey had a mistress which you have often heard referred to as a “goumada” in mafia movies and elsewhere. According to JR, the woman was an unidentified pharmaceutical saleswoman who was involved in the insurance-fraud scam. “He ended the relationship with her. It was his connection. He said, ‘She sends things to my house, my wife is going to find out,’ ” Rubeo added according to an NY Post report.
Jacob’s seemed to be caught off guard by the allegations of the affair and asked Rubeo “So now you are telling us that Joey slept with this rep?” He replied saying that is what Joey told him which prompted a response of shock from Merlino’s wife Deborah and gasps from his other supporters that were in the courtroom according to reports. There were also prison tapes played by the defense of conversations Rubeo had while on the inside bringing into question his relationship with Merlino and his motives for testifying. It is still unknown as to whether or not the prosecution can link the cash made from the medical-fraud scheme directly to Merlino. So far it seems the tapes played and the testimony heard has had its inconsistencies in that area among others.
It is hard to tell how effective Rubeo has been on the stand in the eye’s of the jury but it seems from various reports that the tapes and evidence linking Joey to the various charges may not be as strong as the government would have liked. But there are still plenty of hurdles ahead and it is still hard to tell which side the momentum of the proceedings is favoring. Another player in the Medical-fraud scheme is Wayne Kriesberg and if he takes the stand he could potentially provide additional testimony of Joey’s involvement. The Joey Merlino trial will continue on Thursday.