This week’s 67-page response motion filed by the U.S. Attorneys Office in New York gave us our first tiny glimpse at the hundreds of hours of audio surveillance evidence the government has compiled on alleged Philadelphia mob don Joseph (Skinny Joey) Merlino over the last five years. Besides his now already-famous opining on the ease of murdering those close to him, released in a brief transcript of the 55-year old Godfather talking to members of the New York mafia in a recording made in 2014 included in the motion filed in Merlino’s most-recent federal racketeering case Tuesday, mob watchers can catch a glimpse of Skinny Joey living up to his well-earned reputation as a master shakedown artist, slick underworld politician and gambling “guzzler” extraordinaire, too.

Authorities believe Merlino, 55, runs the Philadelphia mafia from his luxury condo in Boca Raton, Florida – he relocated to South Florida in early 2011 upon getting out of prison. Last summer, he was indicted out of New York City along with more than three dozen other alleged east coast wiseguys and mob powerhouses, for federal racketeering. Free on bond, he is charged with bookmaking and health-care fraud and is seeking to get his trial, scheduled for a January 2018 start date, moved from New York to Pennsylvania. Prosecutors are opposing the change of venue request.

Below is a breakdown of what this week’s government motion to block the defense team’s attempt to get the trial moved across state lines told us about Merlino’s alleged recent underworld affairs and his documented dealings with New York’s Genovese crime family. The lead defendants in the racketeering case are Merlino and Genovese captains Patsy Parrello and Eugene (Rooster) O’Nofrio.

According to the motion, Merlino bragged to O’Nofrio of how little effort it took to whack somebody in the mob (“It’s easy to kill somebody…you’re my friend, you trust me, I tell you, drive me home right now, I get you in the car, I shoot you in the fucking head and it’s over with”) and had a piece of New York mafia associate Anthony (Wall Street Tony) Cirillo’s on-line sports gambling business. The 51-year old Cirillo splits his time between New Jersey and Boca Raton and has links to both the Gambino and Genovese crime families, per sources in law enforcement. He was indicted alongside Merlino in August 2016 and barred by the case’s judge from interacting with him at a mutual friend’s wedding back in the spring at a posh South Florida country club.

With Merlino as his partner in his booking activities, Cirillo had an ace in the hole. Per the motion, Cirillo used Merlino to intervene on his behalf to resolve debts. Merlino was recorded in 2013 telling a confidential informant that he got ten percent of Cirillo’s bookmaking operation.

This week’s motion also detailed a 2015 meeting of the minds between Genovese capo Danny Pagano, fellow Genovese Goodfella Anthony (Tony Muscles) Vazzano and Gambino soldier Daniel (Little Danny) Marino, Jr. where Marino, Jr. voiced concerns about Merlino not paying his gambling debts and Pagano telling him that O’Nofrio is responsible for getting the problem fixed. Dating all the way back to his time as a twentysomething mob associate running around South Philly and Atlantic City in the 1980s, Skinny Joey has built a world-class reputation as a “guzzler,” someone who places personal bets himself or wagers through a series off “cutouts” with no intention of repaying losses.

A winter 2014 recording made by an undercover FBI agent captured a meeting that occurred in Florida between D’Onofrio, Merlino and a young Merlino crony named Carmine Gallo discussing how best to collect an outstanding debt owed to Cirillo’s sport book. Merlino’s driver from 2012 through 2016, John (J.R.) Rubeo, introduced to him via Parrello, was an FBI confidential informant. O’Nofrio’s driver during that same period of time, introduced to him via Rubeo, was an undercover FBI agent.

When O’Nofrio was informed at the recorded meeting in February 2014 that a debtor had expressed fear of him, he responded with glee.

“Good….guess what? He should be afraid of me, I don’t play around,” O’Nofrio responded.

Danny Pagano

Pagano, 64, is the son of deceased Genovese crew boss Joe Pagano, who ran the Lower Hudson Valley region for the New York mob, was nailed for a daisy-chain bootlegging gasoline scam in 1998, following serving a state prison stint for racketeering earlier in the decade. He is in a New York halfway house until late August, finishing up a two-year federal prison term for bookmaking and loansharking.

O’Nofrio, 75, is the Genovese clan’s capo of crews in Manhattan’s Little Italy and Western Massachusetts and has done time behind bars for narcotics trafficking, sports booking, shylocking and second-degree murder (his conviction would be vacated). Vazzano, 52, allegedly works as an enforcer for Patsy Parrello in his Bronx crew stationed on Arthur Avenue. The 73-year old Parrello pled guilty in the spring. Marino, Jr.’s father, Danny Marino, Sr. is a reputed administrator in the Gambinos.

Prior to his arrest last summer, Cirillo controlled business affairs at a Wall Street trading firm called Princeton Securities through a trust and according to sources, is connected to mob crews in the Garden State belonging to Genovese capo Ludwig (Ninny) Bruschi and Gambino capo Alphonse (Funzi) Sisca. Back in the 1990s, Cirillo was aligned with the Lucchese crime family.

Cirillo’s name popped up in a recent criminal investigation earlier probing Genovese syndicate gambling interests in New Jersey. In 2015, Genovese bookie Gary (Baldy) Latawiec was indicted for running one of the biggest sports books in the country out of the Tribeca Spa of Tranquility in Manhattan. Per court documents tied to the Polish 78-year old Latawiec’s case, Latawiec’s gambling business delivered proceeds in tribute envelopes of cash to Genovese higher-ups using Cirillo as an intermediary.

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