A mistrial was declared in the racketeering case of reputed Philadelphia mob boss Joseph Merlino.
After four days of deliberation, a jury on Tuesday told US District Judge Richard Sullivan that they were hopelessly deadlocked and could not agree on a verdict.
‘Thank God for the jury,’ Merlino told reporters outside the Manhattan courtroom as he left with his wife Deborah by his side.
Merlino, also known as ‘Skinny Joey’, had been on trial for federal racketeering after he and nearly four dozen other mobsters were arrested in 2016 for crimes including extortion, loan-sharking, casino-style gambling, sports gambling, health care fraud and credit card fraud.
Joseph ‘Skinny Joey’ Merlino is seen leaving a Manhattan federal court on Tuesday after a judge declared a mistrial in his racketeering case
The 55-year-old reputed Philadelphia mob boss was on trial for federal racketeering after he was arrested in 2016 for crimes including extortion and fraud. Merlino is pictured above outside a Manhattan federal court on Tuesday with his wife Deborah
Merlino had previously denied the allegations against saying he had left crime behind after he served 12 years in prison for his involvement in another racketeering scheme
Merlino denied the allegations insisting that he had quit his life of crime after serving 12 years behind bars for his role in another racketeering scheme.
Prosecutors, however, had alleged that instead of stepping away from crime, Merlino muscled his way into gambling and health insurance schemes run by crime families on the East Coast. He used his clout as a feared mob boss, prosecutors said, to demand protection payments from bookies and other underlings running a scheme to collect thousands of dollars of insurance claims by bribing doctors to write phony prescriptions for pain relief cream.
‘Being with Merlino did not come for free,’ Assistant US Attorney Lauren Schorr said during closing arguments. ‘You pay tribute.’
Defense attorney Edwin Jacob countered by telling jurors that they were being misled by ‘compromised’ mobsters-turned-informants. He also said that none of the secret audio recordings in which Merlino was heard discussing a number of things, including the alleged bribing of doctors, paints him as a mob boss.
Following the judge declaring a mistrial, Merlino is said to have told reporters outside the courtroom, ‘Thank God for the jury’
‘Have you heard anybody say Joseph Merlino is the boss of the Philadelphia mob?’ Jacobs asked. ‘The answer is obvious – not a peep that he’s the boss of (the) Philadelphia mob.’
Prosecutors argued that the tapes showed Merlino had full knowledge of the frauds. In one conversation played for the jury about bribing doctors, he is heard saying, ‘We do the right thing, make 20,000.’ In another, he frets about ‘stool pigeons.’
Merlino’s mistrial comes one week after the 55-year-old sparked controversy for calling a juror by her first name as she waiting for an elevator to leave the Manhattan Federal Courthouse.
According to the New York Post, Merlino and his ‘crew’ approached the woman and Merlino is alleged to have said, ‘Hi, Sylvia’. She reported the incident to the judge and was allowed to remain on the jury after vowing that it would not impact her judgment on the trial.