Friday, October 10, 2014

Merlino Packs Them In At Federal Hearing

By George Anastasia
For Bigtrial.net

Joey Merlino can still draw a crowd.

The one-time South Philadelphia celebrity mobster had a nearly packed courtroom for his probation violation hearing this morning. Friends, family members, law enforcement officials and more than a dozen members of the media showed up for a 90-minute proceeding that revolved around mundane technical issues and that offered all the drama of a first-year law school seminar.

The proceeding before U.S. District Court Judge R. Barclay Surrick ended without any resolution. But Merlino, 52, attracted a swarm of television cameramen and newspaper photographers as he exited the building at Sixth and Market Streets.

"The Mummers Parade," Merlino said cryptically as reporters shouted questions at him and a small entourage that made its way toward Seventh Street and a parking garage. Merlino was scheduled to return to Florida later today.
Philadelphia Inquirer/Yong Kim
In an earlier interview with Bigtrial.net, Merlino said that one of the few things he missed since relocating to Florida three years ago was the New Year's Day parade.

Whether he has to return to Philadelphia for another hearing will depend on how Surrick rules on what amounted to conflicting legal arguments posed by defense attorney Edwin Jacobs Jr. and Assistant U.S. Attorney David Troyer.

Jacobs said he believed Merlino was happy living in Florida and has no intention of coming back to his hometown for anything other than an occasional visit. He said Merlino is working "in sales" for an advertising company, but would offer no specifics.

Troyer, in an interview outside the courthouse after today's hearing, seemed less than convinced.

"I don't think Mr. Merlino has had a job in a very long time," said the prosecutor in response to a question about Merlino's gainful employment in the Sunshine State.

Asked if federal authorities still list "Skinny Joey" an active member of the Philadelphia branch of La Cosa Nostra, Troyer replied, "That's the way we consider him."

Jacobs on the other hand, repeated many of the arguments contained in a pre-hearing motion, insisting that his client is trying to start a new life. Both in his motion and in his comments, Jacobs indicated that federal authorities are making that difficult.

"I think enough is enough," said the Atlantic City-based criminal defense attorney. "I think there are more productive things for the government to do than to follow Joey Merlino to a cigar bar."

The probation violation petition alleges that on June 18, Broward County Sheriff's Department detectives spotted Merlino in Havana Nights, a Boca Raton cigar bar, in the company of three convicted felons, including Philadelphia mob capo John "Johnny Chang" Ciancaglini.

At the time, Merlino was completing a three-year term of supervised release (probation) and was prohibited from associating with organized crime figures and convicted felons. Merlino was convicted of racketeering conspiracy in 2001 and sentenced to 14 years in prison. He had completed his sentence and relocated to Florida to finish his probation. Ciancaglini was a co-defendant in that case.

But the issue of association was never brought up during today's hearing which instead focused on a technical issue raised by Jacobs. In a motion filed Monday, Jacobs argued that the government had failed to properly issue a summons notifying Merlino of the alleged violation and as a result the court no longer had jurisdiction in the case.

Jacobs said the law required that a summons be issued prior to Sept. 6, the day that Merlino's three-year probation was to end. Since no summons was issued, Jacobs argued, Merlino's probation legally ended on that day and the court no longer had jurisdiction over him.

Troyer called Jacobs' position "preposterous" and the ultimate example of "chutzpah." The prosecutor said a parole violation petition had been filed on Sept. 2 requesting a court hearing. He said in the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, the court then issues a notice to appear in lieu of a summons.

Troyer said Jacobs and Merlino had been notified prior to Sept. 6 of the pending action but the notice to appear was delayed out of "professional courtesy" to Jacobs who asked the court to put off setting a hearing date until he had resolved some scheduling issues.

"This court gave him a professional courtesy that he now tries to take advantage of," Troyer argued. "It's the height of unreasonableness and the height of chutzpah."

Jacobs argued that while he did cite scheduling problems, that was not a "waiver" of the requirement that a summons should have been issued prior to Sept. 6.

Merlino, dressed in a finely tailored dark business suit, blue shirt and floral tie, sat quietly through the 90-minute hearing. Nearly two dozen supports sat behind him in the courtroom, including his wife Deborah Wells-Merlino,  his mother Rita and Kathy Ciancaglini, the wife of John Ciancaglini.

"Johnny Chang," whose alleged association with Merlino in Florida back on June 18 is at the heart of the probation violation issue, was not in court, but was spotted sitting on a bench on Market Street outside the federal courthouse during the hearing. When photographers began to close in on him, Ciancaglini walked across the street to a Dunkin' Donuts.

Merlino supporters have argued that the probation violation issue is another example of federal harassment, pointing out that while the alleged offense occurred on June 18 (and a related offense occurred on May 20), federal authorities did not formally notify Merlino until Sept. 2, five days before his probation was to end.

"Why'd you wait so long?" Jacobs asked one government witness during today's hearing, but the judge sustained a prosecution objection, ruling that the question was irrelevant.

The failure to issue a summons, as Jacobs argued, was another example of the government's disregard for the rules when it comes to Skinny Joey, his supporters contend.

"Can you believe this?" Rita Merlino said as she left the courthouse.

"A summons is a summons is a summons," said another Merlino supporter. "And they didn't have one."

Judge Surrick said he would rule at a later date. If the judge accepts Jacobs' argument, the probation violation issue becomes moot and Merlino walks free. If Surrick decides that there was proper notice, then another hearing will be held to argue over the alleged violations.

Merlino could face an additional six to 12 months in jail and/or be placed on extended probation, according to Troyer.

As he left the courtroom today,  Jacobs was asked if chutzpah was a legal term.

"I think it means I have an uncanny ability to understand and apply abstract legal principles," he said with a smile.

George Anastasia can be reached at George@bigtrial.net.

60 comments:

  1. How interesting that was. I think the Jacobs/Merlino argument will win out. The government stumbled on this one. My opinion.

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    1. Eddie Jacobs cleverly mokey-wrenched the probation violation hearing. Why didn't the Judge simply dismiss the argument out of hand? Lots of talk about being outrageous, ridiculous, and such but is there actually something to it? This is print, on cablenews at this point our host (George A.) would turn to the camera and say "now we turn to our panel. Any comments from any "courtroom observers" on the merits?

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    1. Friggin cops go bother the peole sawing off peoples heads

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    2. In the "Maltese Falcon" two detectives asked Bogart, "Can we search your apartment?". "Sure , If you got a warrant" Bogart replied.
      In this case, The Court asked "Is Joey here to answer a summons" . "Sure,Jacobs replied, "If you sent one". I'm curious.

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  3. Yo cuz, give me some peppers and eggs

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  7. Safe to say when George gets the call comments will be down again. Uncle Joe or nephew thoughts and pam must be kept to your selves sorry thats da rules so please stop so we can have some laughs

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  8. Well one has to wonder how many mistakes the boss can make before the loyal ones get tired. Theres
    no reason Johnny should have been in fla. Every one in this crew has stayed loyal. Everybody calls the philly mob rats. But the New York 5 The out fit and others all have there snitches. The mob will never be like it once was the laws and law made sure of that. The leaders got younger and arent as wise
    as the old fellows. Which leads me to this. Joeys crew has never rated Marty Angelina Boy George Borgesi Stevie Mazzone Mikey lancelotti Johnny chang and Mikey chang who gave his life for this thing. All have done major time in the joint except for Mikey Lancelotti. And yet aftet doing 14 yrs and a lot of time to contemplate the bosd of the philly mob gets charged again for violation. What could.ve been so important that Johnny had to go to Fla. Oh ya how many more stupid mistakes by the boss before someone gets tired of staying loyal.The three strike rule is in efect here so some of these guys will do life for Joey mistakes if Joey just keeps worrying about Joey food for thought hope nobodys feelings get hurt Georg A and u hsve to take this down too. Philly

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    1. Yes your right Joey should not have met up with Johnny Chang in Fl. No one flipped in his crew tet but word on the street is Boy George Borgesi is making a lot of enemies inside and outside the mob.Borgesi is not only the most hated guy in the mob by the Gov. he is the most hated man on the street in general and now he is starting to shake people down.I am one of those people and if it weren't for my families safety I would not post anonymous. George A. is Borgesi being looked at in the Galati ins fraud case? You have written that Galati was giving Borgesi money. Is that being looked at as part of the money made threw the car ins fraud proceeds,and if so do you think the Feds will pick him up or wait and see if Nicodemo flips on a murder?

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    2. Yea well if you want to depend just on Nicodemo to put Borgesi away for murder that's a real long shot. First of all it looks like Nicodemo is gona keep his mouth shut and if he doesent Borgesi was in jail while Nicodemo became made and was a murder suspect. The only murder they say Nicodemo and Borgesi were hands on together is Ralph Mazzuca. If Nicodemo turns then George Borgesi wii get charged with the Mazzuca murder after all these years.

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    3. This is how it starts rumor has it he lost the delaware county accounts he use to have only one guy can make that happen the boss himself Joseph merlino so this is how it all starts to unraffle Boy George wants them accounts back and if they dont give him whats his he.s gonna take back what he feels is his. This situation will continue till someone who has balls enough puts a stop to it. Who.s gonna step to the plate the old Scarfo guys or will the skinmy one give the word himself may be thats why Johnny was down there he and Stevie control his accounts now with a piece that goes to boca. Good luck fellows messing with Boy George Borgesi he.s not sitting back and taken shit from nobody u can take that to the bank So philly.

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    5. Everybody knows his preference but George A will shut comments down again when postt dont pertain to article. Sometomes i think one or two of u do this purposely so no one can comment on George A articles or the subjevt of the mob. But this is 2014 and those who are in the know will speak thete peace om the internet anonymously and make it pretty clear that they dont care gor this thing of yours and in doing so feel better about themselves for speaking their mind from behind there computer without fear of being beat up or killed welcome to the nee world boys cause this is the america of today so beware who.s listening or watching

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    1. George why did u take ur own comment down

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  10. I don't see Nicodemo talking he's been in jail for 3 years and hasnt spent the last three Christmas.s with loved ones does that look like someone ready to talk. And done it in a county or State facility. If the law wants Boy George Borgesi it wont be Nicodemo that gives him up. Boy Borgesi is on a mission and the only one who could hurt Boy George is Boy George himself.
    I dont see anyone of these guys getting in his way anytime soon.

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  13. They don't want Nicodemo to talk yet just like they don't Grande to talk .They have them right were they want them getting more involved in criminal activity so when they do come for them the Fed will have more to work with. Grande will bring them all down that's why he's not locked up.What don't you people see? Keep the criminals on the street to get what they want in the long run.They know Grande was involved why have them both locked up? They want a solid case this is how the Fed work. Haven't you notice this yet. Try and think outside the Mobs way of thinking and hopefully you will see just how smart the Feds really are. When the Feds come for you they won't let up until they get you. It could be 5 yrs or 27 yrs but they will get you its a known fact. Read all the Mob stories it's not the DEA or Cops. Its the Feds.They Got Gotti Scarfo Whitey just to name a few after all those yrs of trying.THEY WILL GET YOU.

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    1. Yes the feds don.t play but there.s no way Grande would be left on the street if they had evidence he shot the drug dealer Gino. He is considered a threat to society and his ass would be locked up if they had evidence he was the shooter u just cant assume that doesnt fly my friend

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    2. The Fed Don't care about other people or society dying on the streets all the care about is being the Hero who took down Skinny.They will watch you die to get what they want.If it's true that Gino was working for the Fed well where were they when Gino got killed? They want the top guy & won't stop at anything to get want they want.They can be just as evil if not worse then the criminals themselves.I guess we will have to sit back & just watch it all play out. If I was a wise guy I sure as hell wouldn't have Grande hanging with me. That kid is looking at more time than he could ever imagine. Nicodemo is another one who will save himself if need to. The Feds have alot on him also that's why their not approaching him like people think they are.They are letting him sit and sweat it out til they back him up in the corner with no where to go but Rat.

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    3. Time will tell i guess and the feds have all the time and money they need gonna be a interesting year for
      THE MOBSTERS OF BROTHERLY LOVE AND BGB

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  14. Joe Ligambi murdered Frankie Flowers

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  22. Philly Mob Are The Biggest RAT CRIME FAMILY IN THE USA!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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  23. These Morons Don't Get It!!!!!!!! You Call These Guys Gangsters Give Me A Break!

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  24. Far From Gangsters!,,,

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  25. Skinmys crew done there time and are still here nobody in the circle flipped yet?

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  27. How About Lance????

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    1. lance is the truth....

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  28. Sonny Mazzone Is A RAT

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    1. you better watch your back cuz

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    2. Sonny it Definitely NOT a Rat. He has nothing to Rat About. He's probably The Only Stand up Man out of ALL Them. He Would Die For Skinny.Besides what did he ever do that is so wrong Just because Steve Mazzone is his brother don't make him a bad guy. Steve is well liked by many. People ALWAYS talk so highly about ALL the Mazzone Boys. More than I can say about Boy George & His Big Nose�� Brother

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  29. Is That John Gotti?

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  30. Who is running things these days?

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  32. give me the Orioles for 2 dimes chief

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  33. Are You A Rat!!?????

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  34. Far from a Rat. I did my time.Niw I want what's mine and I'll do whatever it takes to feed my family. They NEVER DID Shit for me nor did my @$!#/.IL be on top soon.

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