BOCA RATON, Fla. (AP) – Reputed Philadelphia mob boss Joseph Merlino has moved to glitzy Boca Raton a year after serving a 14-year sentence for extortion and illegal gambling.
Merlino, known as “Skinny Joey,” is living in a cookie-cutter development still partly under construction off Interstate 95. It’s unclear what he’s doing in South Florida or whether his wife and children are with him.
A telephone listing for Merlino could not be found. He declined comment to the Miami Herald.
Merlino was allegedly the acting boss of the Philadelphia-South Jersey mob when he was arrested in June 1999 on drug charges. He was also tried and acquitted of ordering the 1996 killing of a northern New Jersey mob associate, Joseph Sodano, who was found in his minivan on a Newark street, shot twice in the head.
“The word we got is Joey has a benefactor, he has somebody pumping money into him. How else could he get out of prison and move into a $400,000 house and drive a Mercedes,” said Stephen LaPenta, a retired Philadelphia police lieutenant who worked undercover as a mob informant.
“It’s trouble for South Florida in the sense that because Joey is there, others will follow.”
LaPenta described Merlino as a heavy drinker, gambler and womanizer.