February 13, 2018
Philadelphia mob boss "Skinny Joey" Merlino may have claimed to have moved on from a life of organized crime, but a federal prosecutor alleged Tuesday that he profited from health insurance and gambling schemes.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Lauren Schorr made the allegations during closing arguments at Merlino's trial in Manhattan, the Associated Press reported.
Merlino's attorney, Edwin Jacobs, told the jury that they were being misled by "compromised" turncoat mobsters who gave testimony against his client, according to the AP.
The 55-year-old mobster is one of several co-defendants in the case, which stemmed from a crackdown on an East Coast crime syndicate in 2016, but the only one with ties to Philadelphia and the only one so far to go to trial on conspiracy charges. Merlino rejected plea deals and maintains he did nothing wrong.
Last week, Merlino allegedly encountered a juror in his trial — and brought some friends with him.
The New York Post reported the unidentified juror told federal Judge Richard Sullivan that Merlino spoke to her while she was waiting for an elevator inside a Manhattan courthouse on Wednesday.
She told the Post that Merlino had his "crew" with him, but that the interaction didn't intimidate her, and she told Sullivan it wouldn't affect her ability to be fair and impartial in the case.
Sullivan reiterated to Merlino that he is to have no contact with jurors.
Last week was a rough one in court for Merlino. The Post also reported that a witness and former mobster testified Wednesday that Merlino had a mistress, prompting his wife, Deborah, to walk out of the courtroom.