September 22, 2019 — Per sources, Philadelphia mob boss Joseph (Skinny Joey) Merlino has personally “made” at least a dozen new members into the Bruno-Scarfo crime family since 2013. Late last week, resident Philly mafia experts Dave Schratwieser and George Anastasia broke news of up to 17 confirmed makings in the past 18 years on their popular Mob Talk Sit Down series on YouTube.
Many of the ceremonies, according to Schratwieser and Anastasia’s crack reporting, were held at public social gatherings but in private rooms. Sources tell Gangster Report that the 17 initiates cited by Mob Talk Sit Down may actually be undershooting it in terms of numbers.
Merlino, 57, will be released from prison next week after serving a short sentence for a 2018 gambling conviction out of federal court in New York. The famously hip and handsome don has lived in Florida for the last several years, allegedly running his crime family via buffers and layers of street bosses. George (Georgie Boy) Borgesi, a childhood confidant of Skinny Joey’s, took the reins of the crime family on an acting basis back in the summer according to multiple sources.
Two of these sources cite Merlino-led making ceremonies in 2013, 2015, 2016 and 2018. Another two separate sources say Merlino is hoping to soon make a number of guys in South Florida to establish a full-time crew in the area and more buffers between him and activity on the street.
Gangster Report was the first to bring news of the fall 2015 making ritual, which is alleged to have taken place, in part, to strengthen the 55-year old Borgesi’s crew by providing up to four of his men their buttons. The always-on-the-make, politically-savvy Borgesi conducted a making ceremony of his own in 1997 when Merlino gave him the authority to induct five New England-based soldiers, per sources.
Merlino, Borgesi and their childhood inner circle of friends — mostly made up of sons and nephews of elder-generation button men — fought and won a war for power in the Philly mob in the 1990s when they were just in their 30s. Borgesi was Merlino’s consigliere. They were pinched for racketeering together and did prison time in the 2000s. Merlino walked free in 2011 and Borgesi followed in 2014 on the heels of beating another racketeering rap at two trials.
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