Reputed Philadelphia Mob boss ‘Skinny’ Joey Merlino has been reluctantly dragged into President Donald Trump’s ballot-fixing conspiracy.
The former gambling kingpin, who once offered odds on his own trial, has been forced to denounce a story that he helped manufacture 300,000 illegal ballots in his native battleground state.
The story first appeared in far-right conspiracy website The Buffalo Chronicle, which Wikipedia includes in its list of false news sites. The article was titled, “How a Philly mob boss stole the election — and why he may flip on Joe Biden.” It alleges that “Democratic Party operatives” provided Merlino with “crates of raw ballots” just hours before polls closed on election night.
Within hours, the former Mob boss’s operation was churning out more than 3,000 ballots per hour at $10 per hour, it claimed.
Merlino’s lawyer, John Meringolo, told The New York Daily News that the allegation was “out of control” and that his notorious client had told him, “These people are crazy” after reading the Chronicle story.
The article appears to be as baseless as the site’s recent claim that New York Governor Andrew Cuomo planned to ban cigarettes as a measure to control the coronavirus. Nevertheless, the Merlino story was retweeted by attorney Jordan Sekulow, the son of one of Trump’s top lawyers, Jay Sekulow.
It’s not the allegation of Pennsylvania ballot-fixing and subverting American democracy for cash that has offended Merlino. But he is peeved about the assertion that he “might just be willing to flip on Biden — in primetime Congressional testimony — if President Donald J. Trump is willing to issue the longtime mobster a full expungement of his decades-long criminal record.”
My client categorically denies all the allegations and Joey would rather die than ever be a snitch,” said Meringolo.
You should be careful who you call a rat.
These days, the “Dapper Don” bears a passing resemblance to Humphrey Bogart. But he claims he is no longer the powerful Mafia boss of the 1990s who survived 25 assassination attempts and who controlled the Philly crime families’ gambling, loan sharking, and extortion rackets.
When he was tried for racketeering, extortion, gun-running, and fraud in 2018, he argued he had given up crime to open a restaurant in Florida, Merlino’s, since closed. Subsequently, he went into the carpet-fitting business, he said.
Merlino ultimately served two years for illegal gambling after the first trial ended in a hung jury. He is currently a free man.
But he railed against the “turncoat mobsters” whose evidence put him in the slammer in 2018. After his sentencing, he quipped that the president had been right to suggest “flippers” should be outlawed.
Merlino was referencing Trump’s views at the time on his former lawyer and fixer Michael Cohen, who turned against the president after his arrest on tax fraud, bank fraud, and campaign finance violations.