He hit the top ranks of the Philadelphia Mafia in the 1980’s serving as underboss to Nicodemo “Little Nicky” Scarfo and even served as the acting boss for a short period when Scarfo was in prison for a weapons charge. Salvatore along with his brother Lawrence “Yogi” Merlino was convicted in 1988 on racketeering charges. Lawrence went on to flip and become a government witness and enter the witness protection program. Chuckie Merlino was then sentenced to 45 years in prison and was in a low-security prison in Fort Worth at the time of his death.
Chuckie Merlino is the father of Joseph “Skinny Joe” Merlino who feds claim is the current head of the Philadelphia crime family. The death of Merlino comes amid the biggest trial against the Philly mafia in years targeting family leaders including alleged acting boss Joseph Ligambi. Documents filled in the case by prosecutors assert that Skinny Joey Merlino is the head of the Philly Mafia and has been running the mob family even as he served a 12 year-long prison sentence. Prosecutors say that Ligambi served as acting boss while Merlino served out his sentence.
No funeral arrangements have been released as they wait for the body to be shipped back to Philadelphia.