By Tony Hanson

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – Convicted former mob boss Joey Merlino is scheduled back in federal court again this morning, and he could learn whether he is a free man — still under the supervision of the court — or if he’s headed back to prison.

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The government alleged in September, just days before Joey Merlino’s period of supervised release was to end, that Merlino had violated his release conditions by meeting with felons and mobsters.

The defense unsuccessfully challenged the motion on technical grounds, so a hearing on the merits of the government’s allegations is scheduled for today.

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The defense contends Merlino, sentenced to 14 years in prison and then supervised releases, has followed the rules, saying that the alleged contacts included chance encounters and he wants to get on with his life with his family and his job in sales.

So Merlino, who called the prosecutor “mental” after the last hearing, returns to court again with his freedom hanging in the balance.

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