Joseph “Skinny Joey” Merlino was arrested at his home in Florida this morning as the feds dropped the hammer in a multi-state, multi-defendant organized crime case.
Merlino, 54, was part of a massive roundup in which more than 40 mob members and associates were taken into custody. Indictments brought by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York offered a shopping list of crimes ranging from gambling, loan sharking and extortion to medical insurance fraud and untaxed cigarettes.
Most of those charged were members of the New York-based Genovese and Luchese crime families, according to documents released by federal authorities. Merlino, who authorities believe continues to head the Philadelphia mob from his home in Boca Raton, Florida, was charged with entering into a series of illegal “business” arrangements with New York mob figures.
No other members of his Philadelphia crime family were charged, but one source familiar with the investigation said more indictments could come from the U.S. Attorney’s Offices in Philadelphia and Miami.
The one-time Philadelphia mob boss Joseph “Skinny Joey” Merlino was indicted along with members of the Genovese, Gambino, Luchese and Bonanno families as part of the “East Coast La Cosa Nostra Enterprise.”
Merlino, 54, was living in Florida after beating a pair of federal racketeering and murder cases in 2001 and 2004.
He was named as one in a triumvirate of leaders along with Bronx restaurant owner Pasquale (Patsy) Parrello of the Genovese family and Eugene (Rooster) Onofrio.
They allegedly ran illegal gambling operations, sold untaxed cigarettes and illegal handguns, and committed healthcare fraud as part of the conspiracy, court documents note.
Despite their different allegiances, the participants “conspired to, and in some cases did, work together and coordinate with each other to perpetrate a number of different criminal acts and scheme,” according to a 32-page Manhattan Federal Court indictment.
The 46 defendants stand accused of charges including racketeering conspiracy, conspiracy to commit assault in aid of racketeering, use of fire to commit a felony and firearms trafficking.
Several of those indicted allegedly ran an illegal Yonkers casino where bets were taken on horse races while poker and dice tournaments were held several times per week.
They also installed and operated illegal poker machines, court papers charge.
One of the men associated with the Yonkers club, Mark (Stymie) Maiuzzo, set fire to the car of a rival gambling operation in 2011 on orders from Anthony (Anthony Boy) Zinzi, officials said.
The untaxed cigarettes trafficked in the scheme had a street value of more than $3 million, the feds allege.
Parello, owner of an Italian restaurant on Arthur Ave. in the Bronx, allegedly ordered several underlings to break a nearby panhandler’s knees for bothering his customers.
The enforcers, after grabbing and threatening the wrong man, then beat another man “with glass jars, sharp objects and steel-tipped boots, causing bodily harm,” court papers say.
The government also announced its intention to go after the defendants’ ill-gotten profits — including cash and properties — under federal forfeiture law.
Some of the suspects were expected to appear before a federal judge in Manhattan on Wednesday afternoon.