Reputed Philadelphia mafia boss Joseph “Skinny Joey” Merlino and Genovese crime family capo Eugene “Rooster” Onofrio continue to fight charges from last years East Coast LCN Enterprise racketeering case.
According to the feds, both men were leaders of the newly formed Cosa Nostra enterprise that operated up and down the east coast and included members from four of the five New York Mafia families. Both mobsters have turned down plea offers and are seemingly headed to trial prompting Onofrio to try and distance himself from Merlino. Onofrio has asked the judge to be tried separately because he is worried that Skinny Joey’s reputation could potentially prejudice a jury against him.
But prosecutors believe the two wiseguys should be tried together and released details of a 2014 recorded conversation between the two in an effort to strengthen their case according to a NY Post report. According to the feds, the secretly recorded conversation captured Merlino talking to Onofrio about how to best to whack someone. Merlino boasted “It’s easy to kill somebody,” with Onofrio agreeing “It’s simple” according to newly filed court documents. Merlino explained his method saying “You’re my friend, you trust me, I tell you, ‘Listen, drive me home right now,’ get you in the car, I shoot you in the f—king’ head, and it’s over with,” according to the feds.
As of now, the trial is scheduled to begin in January of next year but this saga has had plenty of twists and turns so things could definitely change moving forward. The once heralded case that was supposed to be a huge blow to organized crime has fallen on hard times after an internal investigation into the potential mishandling of a cooperating witness and evidence was exposed prompting prosecutors to offer plea deals to all defendants. The majority of the case against Merlino seems to revolve around evidence collected by the cooperating witness in question which could lead to it all being compromised. There seems to be a more than average chance for Skinny Joey Merlino to come out on top at trial.