Did Philadelphia Mafia Dodge a Bullet?

According to the indictment, Joey Merlino and two Genovese crime family capos ran the East Coast LCN Enterprise
Merlino faces up to 20 years but the Philly guys may have been spared -- from this case.

George Anastasia, writing this week's Gangland News column, reports that "in a strange twist ... federal authorities in New York who hit Skinny Joey last month with racketeering charges that carry up to 20 years in prison seem to have done a much bigger favor for Merlino's Philadelphia mob crew."

Last month's"East Coast LCN Enterprise" indictment named members and associates of four of New York's five crime families (the Colombo crime family was absent) plus the Philadelphia-North Jersey crime family -- even though Merlino was the only one from Philly to be arrested. And he wasn't even in Philadelphia at the time of the bust; he was in Florida.

According to the indictment, Merlino and Genovese crime family capos Pasquale “Patsy” Parrello and Eugene "Rooster" O'Nofrio had "supervised and controlled members of the Enterprise engaged in illegal schemes."

In a previous report for PhillyVoice, Anastasia noted, "No other members of his Philadelphia crime family were charged, but one source familiar with the investigation said more indictments could come from the U.S. Attorney’s Offices in Philadelphia and Miami."

Now, Anastasia reports, those offices are not planning to indict any Philadelphia Cosa Nostra members or associates because Southern District of New York (SDNY) prosecutors apparently didn't share evidence until too late.

Only "after the indictment was unsealed and arrests were made last month" did SDNY prosecutors provide their counterparts in Philadelphia with the evidence, according to Anastasia's Philadelphia law enforcement sources.

As Anastasia noted:

"That's why it's known as the Sovereign District of New York," one Philadelphia law enforcement source said icily. "They don't play by the rules."

The view from Philadelphia, he and others said, is that the investigation that netted (Skinny Joey) Merlino could have had a much greater impact against mob activity in Philadelphia and South Jersey. The fact that it won't, he added, is an example of how organized crime occasionally gets a boost from disorganized law enforcement.

Disorganized Law Enforcement
Back in September 2014, Merlino 's court-ordered supervision was scheduled to conclude, when the mob boss was hit with charges for violating the terms of his release when he spent a June night on the town with John "Johnny Chang" Ciancaglini, a Philadelphia Mafia captain convicted with Merlino back in 2001.
Also present were Brad Sirkin, a convicted fraudster and money launderer, and Frank Fiore, who may have been the original target of the law enforcement operation.

For the parole violation, Merlino served around four months behind bars -- and his absence from the street during those months served to buffer him from getting more deeply jammed up in the Fed's then-ongoing "East Coast LCN Enterprise" investigation.
New York officials initially tried to convince Philadelphia prosecutors not to violate Merlino, so he could continue incriminating himself in the investigation. However, New York eventually approved the violation, but who really knows what political dynamics were or were not at play during these developments.

Also see 2016 Not Coming Up Aces for Mob Boss Skinny Joey

Skinny Joey is currently free on $5 million bail. A pre-trial hearing is scheduled for Oct. 31; it's expected that more details will finally be provided to the so-far sketchy case, as defense attorneys have been calling it.

Genovese crime family capo Pasquale "Patsy" Parrello's fine-dining eatery on Arthur Avenue. 

As previously noted, Merlino's longtime attorney Edwin Jacobs noted that he was "puzzled" by the indictment, saying: "All I can tell you at this point is, I’ve seen a lot of racketeering indictments, and they’re usually fact- and date-specific. This one is not. It’s also very short on any allegations of violence, which most prosecutors claim is the foundation of organized crime. You read this indictment, and you don’t find so much as a single cinder block."

Also read: Merlino, Dozens of New York Mobsters Arrested

Jacobs also highlighted the fact that "the indictment was too broad and general to draw any conclusions about what it could ultimately mean for Merlino’s future. 

"Many times when you read these indictments, it’s sort of a script for the trial. This is not even an outline. It names a lot of people, and a lot of criminal statutes … but there’s not much meat on these bones."