The Feds Want to Put Joey Merlino Back In Prison Immediately

Skinny Joey turned up in Philly's Federal Court on Friday morning.

Philadelphia’s skinniest mobster Joey Merlino has been living in Boca Raton, Florida since his March 2011 release from federal prison, where he spent a decade on racketeering and extortion charges. But now the long arm of the law has caught up with him, yanking him back to the Federal Courthouse at 6th and Market streets in Philadelphia for a hearing on Friday morning. And the end result could be his return to federal prison.

Merlino has been on parole in Florida since his release, and that parole was set to end on September 2nd. But one of the terms of that parole is that he is forbidden to associate with anyone convicted of a felony or associated with La Cosa Nostra. And that’s where Merlino is alleged to have screwed up. The government moved to revoke his parole just days before it was set to expire.

According to documents filed in the case, Merlino was observed to be in the company of three convicted felons, including Philadelphia mobster John Ciancaglini, in the VIP area of the Havana Night’s Cigar Bar in Boca Raton back in June.

Federal prosecutors also allege that Merlino has refused to cooperate with an investigation into his finances, which would constitute another violation of his parole.

Merlino’s attorney has argued that the Philadelphia court lacks legal jurisdiction to conduct a violation hearing, and he claims that Merlino’s interaction with Ciancaglini and the others was a “chance encounter,” according to court filings. The attorney also maintains that Merlino’s refusal to answer certain questions about his finances was an invocation of the Fifth Amendment. But the Feds say that the Fifth Amendment doesn’t apply here.

In support of his case, Merlino has submitted 13 character-reference letters, including those written by his wife and youngest daughter, a Catholic priest, and the owners of a drug rehabilitation center.

Here’s what Sophia Merlino had to say to Judge R. Barclay Surrick about her dad:

Dear Judge Surrick,

My name is Sophia Merlino; I am sixteen years old and a junior in high school. I am Joseph Merlino’s youngest daughter of two. I moved to Florida in August of this past summer to be reunited with my family after many years apart. I left the life I knew behind, my friends, family, and my childhood. I brought hope and faith with me knowing my dad was getting off supervised parole in early September and we could finally be a “normal” family again.

I never knew what it was like to have a father figure in my life, since he was taken away from me at one and a half years old. Adjusting to a whole new life at the age of sixteen is easier said than done, but I did it for my family, because that’s more important to me than anything else. Undeterred by the fact that my father got violated only a few days before his parole release date; my mother and I sacrificed pretty much everything we could to be with my dad and start and amazing journey as a united family.

Thank you for your consideration.

Sophia Merlino


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