July 9, 2020 – Drivers for Philadelphia mob boss Joseph (Skinny Joey) Merlino usually run into trouble with the law. Merlino has been a magnet for federal law enforcement the past 30 years and some of his closest associates have had the misfortune of often getting caught in the undertow.
On Wednesday, Merlino’s Florida driver, Brad Sirkin, was released from prison after serving two years on a health care fraud case that Merlino himself slid out of before copping a plea to a gambling charge and doing a little over a year behind bars himself. Sirkin was caught scamming with doctors to defraud insurance companies and get kickbacks from a compound cream manufacturer for muscle and joint pain.
Merlino, 58, moved to Florida in the spring of 2011 after being sprung from a dozen years in federal lock up for racketeering. He met Sirkin, a convicted felon, in a Miami halfway house that same year and once both hit the street in Boca Raton, they became constant companions, according to the 2016 “East Coast LCN” case they were each indicted in.
The 57-year old Sirkin is considered a New York mafia associate by the feds, with connections to the Bonanno and Lucchese crime families. His partner in a shady environmental consulting firm and dumping site in Palmyra, New Jersey known as Jersey Recycling Services, was former Bonanno capo Peter (Petey B.S.) Lovaglio, who turned government witness in 2017.
Merlino won a war for control of the Philly mafia in the 1990s. For the past decade, he’s run his crime family from South Florida, using buffers and making quick stops back into town for meetings and social gatherings. Merlino’s drivers in the 1990s, Anthony Nicodemo and Roger Vella, are no longer on the street. Vella flipped in the early 2000s. Nicodemo is serving time for participating in a 2012 murder conspiracy.
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