Skinny Joey Was Gunning For Top Spot In Philly Mafia As Far Back As ‘87, Per FBI Records

Philadelphia Mob boss Joseph (Skinny Joey) Merlino foreshadowed his brash and rules-flouting reign at the helm of the Bruno-Scarfo crime family with his bold antics in the years before he fought and won a shooting war for power in the organization. A batch of newly-acquired FBI documents, including a series of informant “302” reports shows Merlino tried taking over the mob in Philly as far back as the late spring of 1987, directly on the heels of the arrest and imprisonment of bloodthirsty mafia don Nicodemo (Little Nicky) Scarfo in March of that year. His own jailing for a armored car heist in early 1990 put his plans for assuming the throne on hold.

The 57-year old Merlino is finishing up a brief federal prison term for a gambling offense. He’ll be in a halfway house this fall. Salvatore (Chuckie) Merlino, Skinny Joey’s dad, was Little Nicky Scarfo’s underboss until his demotion in 1986 for excessive drinking. The Merlinos, father and son, were banished from the Philly mob, ordered by Scarfo to be placed on the pay-no-mind list.

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