August 2, 2020 – Mob explosives expert Salvatore Brunetti was denied his request for compassionate release by U.S. District Court Judge Mark Kearney in Philadelphia last week, ruling Brunetti’s violent history outweighs his health risk to the COVID-19 virus in deciding to keep him locked up.
The 73-year old Brunetti was a bomb-maker in the unstable John Stanfa regime of the Philly-New Jersey mafia of the 1990s and went down with the Sicilian don in a March 1994 RICO case. He’s slated for release in 2028.
Brunetti was one of a number of Stanfa soldiers assigned to kill upstart mob star Joseph (Skinny Joey) Merlino during a mob war pitting the young, cocky Merlino and his crew of childhood buddies against an isolated and out-of-touch Stanfa, who was appointed boss of Philadelphia by New York’s Gambino crime family but was never able to get the entire rank and file in-line behind him.
Court records tie Brunetti to plots to murder both Merlino and his then underboss Steven (Handsome Stevie) Mazzone throughout 1992 and 1993. Brunetti planned separate attacks on Merlino and his crew, one in which he plotted to use explosives, another when he thought poisoning a Merlino beverage with cyanide was the best route to go and another pair where he attempted and then aborted to shoot Merlino and Mazzone as they attended a wake at a funeral parlor.
Brunetti was sentenced to 40 years behind bars and is being housed in a New Jersey prison. Stanfa, 79, got life and is serving his time in a Pennsylvania federal correctional facility.
Skinny Joey Merlino, 58, just walked free from a two-year prison sentence on a federal gambling conviction. He’d been in a South Florida halfway house since last fall. Merlino took over the Philly mafia in the wake of Stanfa going away in his ’94 RICO bust and hasn’t relinquished the reins yet, according to federal authorities. Upon getting released from a racketeering conviction of his own in 2011, Skinny Joey relocated to Boca Raton, deciding to continue running the Bruno-Scarfo crime family through buffers, intermediaries and street bosses.
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