Monday, May 25, 2009
Joseph,"Skinny Joey" Merlino
Joseph S. Merlino, nicknamed "Skinny Joey" (born March 16, 1962 South Philadelphia), is an American mafioso, member of the U.S. Cosa Nostra, and former head of the Philadelphia crime family which controls organized crime as far as Southern New Jersey. He is the son of former Nicky Scarfo underboss/soldier Salvatore "Chuckie" Merlino. He is also the nephew of deceased former Capo Lawrence Merlino.While Merlino was the boss of the Philadelphia crime family, it engaged primarily in extortion, bookmaking, drug trafficking, and loan sharking.
Merlino has been described as a particularly vicious mobster, obsessed with his own public image, and another version of New York's John Gotti, after whom he patterned himself. He is flashy, stylish, flamboyant, and "in your face." “Joey was a party guy,” said "Big Ron" Previte, cop-turned gangster-turned government witness. “He liked to go out. He liked to gamble. He liked the high life.” He invited TV crews to his annual Christmas party for the homeless, and was a fixture at the city's nightclubs, restaurants, and sporting events. With longtime buddies Salvatore Scafidi, Michael Ciancaglini, and George Borgesi he was known to beat up girls, rob people, and start fights in clubs.In the late 1990s Merlino allied himself with Steve "Gorilla" Montevergine, boss of the Pagans MC motorcycle gang. In June 1999, Merlino was indicted on charges he conspired with the Boston mob to purchase and distribute cocaine. He was sentenced to 14 years in prison on December 3, 2001, on racketeering charges, including extortion and illegal gambling. He was acquitted of murder charges, attempted murder, and drug dealing.  "Ain't bad," Merlino said. "Better than the death penalty