The Joey Merlino trial is coming to an end as the defense decided to rest its case yesterday without calling anyone to the stand setting the stage for today’s closing arguments.
Merlino’s wife Deborah was listed as a potential witness for the defense but the lawyers decided against putting her on the stand Monday. This decision may have had something to do with an incident that happened last week during the testimony of the prosecutions key witness Junior “JR” Rubeo. The mafia turncoat testified about an affair he alleged Joey had with an unidentified pharmaceutical saleswoman that was involved in the insurance-fraud scam the feds claim he ran. The reputed Philadelphia mafia boss was a leader in what has been called the East Coast LCN Enterprise along with Genovese family capos Eugene “Rooster” O’Nofrio and Pasquale “Patsy” Parrello according to the feds.
The prosecution’s case has had its share of ups and downs and its hard to tell which side was able to grab the momentum as the trial progressed. Rubeo was able to record hours and hours of conversations with various mobsters including Merlino and O’Nofrio although it’s unclear if they successfully linked Merlino to any of the charges. According to reports, Merlino’s high powered defense attorney Ed Jacobs did a fantastic job during cross-examination of Rubeo challenging his character and accountability. Prosecutors claimed that Joey was a key player profiting from both the health care fraud scheme and some gambling operations. Joey’s lawyer had a much different story and told the jury they were being misled by a group of compromised government witnesses. He claims that Merlino was no longer involved in organized crime and is nothing more than a guy who sometimes gambled above his means.
Closing arguments in the case are likely to wrap up today putting the trial in the hands of the jury heading into tomorrow. If the flamboyant Cosa Nostra boss is found guilty he could be looking at another extended stay behind bars.