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Oct 24, 12:34 PM EDT

Detectives say they followed reputed ex-mob boss

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PHILADELPHIA (AP) -- Detectives with an FBI task force say they followed a reputed former Philadelphia mob boss in Florida as part of an unspecified investigation - not to catch him in a parole violation.

The alleged breach landed Joseph "Skinny Joey" Merlino in federal court Friday in Philadelphia.

Prosecutors say the 52-year-old Merlino met up with fellow mobsters during his three years of supervised release in the Miami area. He wasn't supposed to have contact with them.

The detectives testified Friday they saw Merlino talking to an ex-codefendant for about 10 minutes at a cigar bar. Defense attorneys characterize it as a chance encounter.

Merlino is free after about a decade in prison following a 2001 racketeering trial. But a parole violation could send him back behind bars.

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