Even on bond restriction, Philadelphia mob boss Joseph (Skinny Joey) Merlino grabs headlines. Merlino, 55, ended April in the news twice in the month’s final week, first for reportedly rejecting a plea deal in his current federal racketeering case out of New York that would call for a relatively-easy two-year prison term and getting permission from the judge in his case to attend the South Florida wedding of Philadelphia attorney Michael Caudo over the weekend.

Notoriously media-friendly Skinny Joey relocated from South Philly to South Florida in 2011 after his release from 12 years in prison stemming from a 2001 racketeering conviction. The FBI is of the opinion that Merlino runs his criminal empire in Pennsylvania from afar these days, ensconced in a posh Boca Raton condo.

According to multiple reports in the press, Merlino has told prosecutors he’ll go to trial, rather than accept a light plea and prison sentence following it being announced earlier in the spring that FBI case agents responsible for the star witness in the case may have mishandled the documenting of intelligence retrieved in his one-on-one debriefings and audio recording Skinny Joey and his mafia cohorts. Then, last Thursday, a federal judge in New York City ruled that Merlino could go to Caudo’s wedding Sunday night at the ritzy Boca Raton Golf & Country Club and serve as his best man, but had to leave before the reception so he wouldn’t be in contact with co-defendant and fellow wedding invitee Anthony (Wall Street Tony) Cirillo, a reputed New York mob associate indicted alongside Merlino in August 2016 also allowed by the judge to celebrate Caudo’s nuptials with him, just not the actual ‘I dos.”

The judge even let Merlino give the ceremonial best man’s toast at the rehearsal dinner Saturday night, pushing back his court-mandated curfew three hours. Skinny Joey lives a stone’s throw from the Boca Raton Golf & Country Club and is known to hit the links there often. As recently as a few weeks ago, Merlino posted a photo on his social media accounts of him golfing at the club with his longtime buddy and Philly right-hand man Ray Wagner.

The 51-year old Tony Cirillo splits his time between New Jersey and Boca Raton and is alleged to be a mid-level sports gambling manager on behalf of both the Gambino and Genovese crime families in New York. He was barred from attending Caudo’s wedding ceremony to avoid seeing Merlino, a close friend of his. Prior to his being arrested last summer, Cirillo controlled business affairs at Wall Street trading firm Princeton Securities through a trust and according to sources in federal law enforcement, is connected to mob crews in the Garden State belonging to Genovese capo Ludwig (Ninny) Bruschi and Gambino capo Alphonse (Funzi) Sisca.

Cirillo’s name popped up in a criminal investigation earlier in the decade probing Genovese syndicate gambling activity 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 mob administrators using Cirillo as an intermediary.

Leave a Reply