Going on five years now stashed away in Florida, hundreds of miles removed from the chaotic mafia fray of his hometown, alleged Philadelphia mob boss Joseph (Skinny Joey) Merlino has yet to lose a grip on the crime family he’s headed in some form or another for the past two decades. In fact, its as firm as ever, per sources familiar with the situation. One thing is certain that’s for sure: an undying, fierce loyalty displayed by Merlino’s inner circle, no matter where he resides, in prison or not, in South Philly or not, continues to anchor his long-standing powerbase.

According to exclusive Gangster Report sources, Skinny Joey has held a series of meetings down in Florida in the last few months with a bevy of his top associates. Some of these meetings served to thaw relations with his former consigliere George (Georgie Boy) Borgesi and others simply related to general crime family maintenance. His reputed underboss and street boss Steven (Handsome Stevie) Mazzone was with him over the Memorial Day holiday in Boca Raton.

“There have been guys shuffling down there, once, twice a month, since last fall so Joey can keep tabs on things,” a source said. “He’s got his finger on the pulse…. he uses different guys for different jobs. Believe me, he knows what’s going on with everybody in Philly and still has the final say. I don’t care where he’s living, he could be spending the year on the moon, Joey’s in charge.”

Merlino’s restaurant in Boca Raton has shuttered for the summer (news broken by FoxPhilly29’s Dave Schratwieser on his Twitter account) and Skinny Joey is expected to be making appearances in South Philly and on the Jersey Shore soon. He was in Philadelphia in the spring for a week and brought in 2016 at current acting boss Joseph (Uncle Joe) Ligambi’s tented New Year’s Eve Party in Philly’s Packer Park neighborhood.

In late March, almost the entire Merlino camp was at a private resort club in South Florida celebrating his 54th birthday with a lavish weekend-long party. Borgesi and Uncle Joe Ligambi, Borgesi’s actual uncle, visited Merlino in Florida in the winter, with Borgesi also taking a meeting with Gambino crime family member Joe Bilotti at a Boca Raton hotel.

Sources claim relations between Merlino and Borgesi have warmed. The pair of childhood friends had been feuding for years, dating back to the aftermath of their convictions in an early-2000s racketeering case. Merlino was released from prison in 2011, Borgesi walked a little more than two years ago following beating additional racketeering offenses alongside his uncle in two mistrials in 2013 and 2014, respectively.

The FBI in Pennsylvania and Florida are said to be trying to build another RICO indictment to charge Skinny Joey with. At trial in 2001, Merlino, Borgesi and Mazzone beat multiple murder counts. Ligambi had a murder conviction tossed in the 1990s (the 1985 slaying of bookie and loan shark Frank “Frankie Flowers” D’Alfonso).

Upon Merlino’s incarceration in 1999, the 76-year old Ligambi allegedly took his place at the helm of the crime family Skinny Joey, Borgesi and Mazzone fought a war for earlier in the decade on an acting basis. Several media reports last year speculated that Uncle Joe had returned to his acting boss post in mid-2015 in a move by Merlino to quell tensions within a organization split into 1990s era and 1980s era wiseguys. Ligambi, made into the crime family in 1986, has successfully bridged the gap between opposing factions, at least for now, per sources.

Stevie & Joey

Stevie Mazzone (L) & Joey Merlino (R) on Memorial Day

 

 

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