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Reputed Philadelphia mob boss Joey Merlino, 55, who has been living in Boca Raton, Fla., is accused of running an ‘enterprise engaged in illegal schemes.’ If convicted of racketeering conspiracy, he faces up to 20 years in prison.
He’s survived more than a dozen attempts on his life. He’s won and lost battles with the feds — and tried in recent years to refashion himself as a retired man of leisure and Florida restaurateur.
But they have cited in court papers a 2013 interview the reputed boss gave to mob writer and former Inquirer reporter George Anastasia as a more accurate representation of what, these days, “Skinny Joey” is about.
Their client maintains that he wouldn’t know — he’s retired from mob life for good.They already have lobbed attacks at the past of other government witnesses, including Bonanno mob capo Peter “Pug” Lovaglio, who flipped sides after he was arrested for smashing a cocktail glass in the face of an ex-NYPD officer at a Staten Island sushi lounge.As for Merlino, his defense lawyers say, the tapes prove that he’s left such old-school mob street violence behind.She is preceded in death by two sisters: Debbie Dickens and Kathy Mosser.Terri was a graduate of Deer Park High School and was employed by Lubrizol for 39 years.Forty-six purported mobsters and associates were swept up in the dragnet as authorities nearly two years ago unsealed their indictment detailing the workings of an entity described as the “East Coast La Cosa Nostra Enterprise.” The document sketches out a loose alliance of mob crews in New York; Philadelphia; Springfield, Mass.; and Boca Raton, Fla., forced to pool their resources and income streams as the glory days of the Mafia faded into the past.Members – who hailed from the Genovese, Gambino, Lucchese, Bonanno, and Philadelphia families – allegedly committed crimes ranging from extortion and arson to credit-card fraud and selling illegal cigarettes.Merlino reportedly rejected a plea offer last summer that carried less than two years in prison in a case that could put him away for 20.The trial, which will play out over the next month in New York, is the result of a multiyear investigation that Merlino’s lawyers, Edwin Jacobs and John Meringolo, have characterized as thin on evidence, mishandled by agents, and aimed at dismantling an organization they say doesn’t exist.But those recordings — made by John Rubeo, the wire-wearing mob associate and cooperator at the center of the case — may give the defense its biggest break at trial.Two FBI agents were disciplined and removed from the case after an internal investigation showed they had failed to keep all of Rubeo’s text messages while handling him as an informant.