Federal Judge Rules Against Joey Merlino

His fate could be determined this Friday in a Philadelphia courtroom.

Reputed Philadelphia mobster Joey Merlino has got to be sweating bullets right about now. The United States Attorney in Philadelphia wants to send “Skinny” Joey back behind bars, where he spent nearly a decade after being convicted on racketeering charges. And on Monday, Judge R. Barclay Surrick issued a ruling that puts Merlino perilously close to a return to federal prison.

Merlino, who has lived on supervised release in Boca Raton, Florida, since he walked out of prison in 2011, appeared in Philadelphia’s Federal Courthouse at Sixth and Market streets on Friday, October 10th. Prosecutors had filed a report claiming that Merlino violated the terms of his supervised release by associating with convicted felons and mob members and failing to cooperate with an investigation into his finances. Merlino’s supervised released had been set to expire in early September. He would have been a completely free man.

Merlino responded to the government’s report by claiming that his interaction with the felons and mob members was a “chance encounter.” Further, Merlino has asserted that the Violation of Supervised Release petition is invalid because it wasn’t issued until 10 days after the expiration of Merlino’s supervised release period. But, contends the government, that delay was actually caused by Merlino’s attorney.

At the October 10th hearing, the government presented two witnesses to speak about the delay of the petition, while Merlino’s attorney presented no evidence or testimony, according to court records.

Well, the judge has sided with the government in that matter. On Monday, Judge Surrick denied Merlino’s request to dismiss the petition, explaining that Congress itself has addressed this very issue — the concept of “delayed revocation” — in the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1994, which states:

The power of the court to revoke a term of supervised release for violation of a condition of supervised release, and to order the defendant to serve a term of imprisonment … extends beyond the expiration of the term of supervised release for any period reasonably necessary for the adjudication of matters arising before its expiration …

“It is the duty of the courts to effectuate, not obfuscate legislative intent,” writes Surrick in his opinion, below. “To accept Merlino’s proposition would lead to an absurd result, something Congress surely did not intend.”

Merlino has been ordered back to Surrick’s courtroom on Friday, October 24th, for a hearing to determine whether or not he violated his supervised release. If the judge determines that he did, Merlino can kiss his freedom goodbye.

[Photo: AP]

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