Mob boss greets juror at his trial with two chilling words
Joseph "Skinny Joey" Merlino has made quite a name for himself in Philadelphia - but not for the right reasons. The renowned criminal and mob boss has spent the best part of the last 20 years in jail, and has had multiple run-ins with the law.
Most recently, in August 2016, the infamous gangster was arrested alongside several of his cronies and charged with a host of crimes, from extortion and loansharking to credit card fraud and health care fraud. At the time, he posted his $5million bail and has since been confined to his home and restaurant business while wearing an ankle monitor.
Now that he's on trial, however, Merlino is stirring up even more trouble.
Last week, during his trial for racketeering, Merlino allegedly approached a juror outside of the courtroom. The juror - whose name was not disclosed - was waiting for the elevator when the mob boss made contact with her.
When she was asked to describe how Merlino, who has previously escaped three murder charges, approached her, she said that he was, "Not close," but that he had been standing right by the exit, and spoke to her as she went past.
According to her, he only said two words: "Hi Sylvia."
When asked whether Merlino was alone at the time, the juror went on to say that "There was [sic] some people. I guess his crew. I’m saying ‘crew’ because I don’t know what else to say, his crew that was all over that side, I guess waiting for somebody to come out or something."
However, the juror says she wasn't phased at all by his approach.
"I just turned my head, like, ‘Some nerve,'" she said, recalling her reaction to the mob boss.
And, considering the history Merlino has had, her rebuttal was pretty risky.
In 1985, the mobster spent four years behind bars for his involvement in an armored truck robbery, and, later on, he spent 12 years in prison for a racketeering scheme. In fact, he was only out on the streets for four years after his second incarceration before being arrested on the current charges.
While the trail has been going on, more tales of Merlino's bad behavior have come to light. On the same day Merlino had a run-in with the juror, one of his former confidantes came forward to say that the gangster had been cheating on his wife - something which she only discovered while sitting in the courtroom.
After the incident with the juror took place, Judge Richard Sullivan, who is presiding over the trial, called out Merlino for his misconduct. "Mr. Merlino, you are to have no contact with jurors, even to say, ‘Good morning,’ even to say, ‘Hello.’ Do you understand?" he said.
Merlino reportedly mumbled something in response, which prompted the judge to scold him again.
The mafia leader is known for his arrogance in court and previously denied a plea deal which would have allowed him to serve only two or three years for his crimes in this case. If found guilty on all charges at the end of the trial, Merlino could spend decades behind bars.