Updated news on the Gambino, Genovese, Bonanno, Lucchese and Colombo Organized Crime Families of New York City.

Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Defense lawyer says Philly boss Skinny Joey Merlino is a degenerate gambler

He’s a gambler, not a goon.
Joseph "Skinny Joey" Merlino is just a “degenerate gambler” — not the Philadelphia mob boss portrayed by prosecutors, his lawyer said in court Tuesday.
Merlino, 55, is on trial in Manhattan Federal Court for an alleged racketeering conspiracy involving the Genovese, Gambino, Lucchese, Bonanno and Philly crime families.
“This is a case about greed,” said prosecutor Max Nicholas, who says Merlino is a La Cosa Nostra leader.
“He fixed problems that threatened to get in the way of making money,” Nicholas said. “Merlino got rid of those problems.”
One of three cooperating witnesses, Genovese mobster John Rubio, befriended Merlino and secretly recorded him, Nicholas said.
“You'll hear Merlino talk about stool pigeons and rats,” Nicholas explained.
Merlino’s lawyers said the government's three cooperating witnesses are implicating his client to save their own skins.
The audio didn't reveal a single smoking gun — and showed Merlino’s relationship with Rubio was largely based on his own debt, his attorney Edwin Jacobs said. Shortly after Merlino got out of federal prison in 2011, he settled down in South Florida, where he wanted to open a restaurant and stay away from crime, Jacobs said.
But Merlino had a “weakness,” according to Jacobs.
“He’s a (lifelong), self-described, degenerate gambler,” Jacobs explained.
“He wasn’t bashful about asking friends to borrow money,” Jacobs said. “Rubio offered Joey money, and he took it.”
Merlino promised to pay Rubio back.
“When my restaurant makes it big, I'm going to turn the tables, I’m going to take care of you,” Merlino said, according to Jacobs.
Admitted Bonanno capo Peter Lovaglio took the stand and identified Merlino as a mobster.
“Do you recognize anyone in the courtroom who was part of La Cosa Nostra?” prosecutors asked. “Joey Merlino," answered Lovaglio.



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