June 20, 2017
Is "Skinny Joey" Merlino coming back to Philadelphia?
The 55-year-old reputed mob boss is fighting a racketeering charge stemming from alleged illegal gambling and health care fraud operations that were busted by federal authorities last summer during a massive mob roundup. On Monday, his attorneys Edwin Jacobs and John Meringolo filed paperwork seeking to have Merlino's trial moved from the federal court in the Southern District of New York to the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, located here in the reputed mobster's hometown.
Merlino's lawyers cited constitutional precedent, which outlines that trials should be held in the state where the alleged crimes are committed. The document also lists that moving the trial to Philadelphia would be a "convenient, cost effective and proper" move.
It contends that Merlino's alleged involvement "must logically be exclusively limited to activity that occurred outside" of New York, since he has never lived there and "only visited" once.
" ... [T]he government contends that Mr. Merlino is the boss of the 'Philly Mob' and places him in the Pennsylvania region," the filing reads. "Therefore, Mr. Merlino requests that venue be changed to the Eastern District of Pennsylvania."
In the court document, Merlino stated that keeping the trial in the Manhattan would subject him and his affiliates to "considerable expenses."
Merlino was taken into custody in August 2016 along with more than 40 mob members for alleged crimes ranging from gambling, loan sharking and extortion. He presently lives in Boca Raton with his wife.