The Associated Press reports that a judge has declared a mistrial in the racketeering case against a Philadelphia mob boss.
Joseph “Skinny Joey” Merlino was on trial for racketeering when the jury told the judge they were deadlocked. They deliberated for four days.
Prosecutors did not comment whether they will seek another trial against him. They claim that Merlino inserted himself into health insurance schemes ran by crime families, demanding payment from bookies and others who were bribing doctors to write unneeded prescriptions and ripping off health insurance companies.
Defense attorneys told the court that other mobsters testifying against Merlino were misleading the jury.
Secretly recorded conversations caused the prosecution to argue that Merlino knew of the frauds.
At one time, Merlino, now 55, controlled the remaining crime family in Philadelphia after the 1980-90s. Federal investigators state that he at one point had a $500,000 price on his head.
Merlino was acquitted in 2001 along with six others for three counts of murder and two counts of attempted murder. Had he been convicted, he would have faced a life sentence. He was convicted of a lesser charge of racketeering and was sent to prison for 12 years.
He now claims he retired from the crime life and started running a restaurant in Florida. During the time the alleged conspiracy was taking place, defense attorneys stated that Merlino was a gambling addict and always broke. Testimony was also given that he had an affair with a pharmaceutical rep and had a heavy drinking problem.
*Photo credit The Associated Press