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Oct 10, 5:03 PM EDT

Judge weighs revoking convicted mobster's parole



PHILADELPHIA (AP) -- A prosecutor seeking to revoke the parole of former Philadelphia mob boss Joseph Merlino said the ex-con is still active in organized crime.

Assistant U.S. Attorney David Troyer, a veteran mob prosecutor, declined to disclose details of Merlino's alleged contacts or criminal activity but said no new indictment was imminent.

"He's mental," the flashy Merlino - wearing sunglasses, slicked-back hair and a bright floral tie - quipped as he left the courthouse.

Merlino, nicknamed "Skinny Joey," was convicted of racketeering in 2001 and sentenced to 14 years in prison. He was released in 2011 after serving about 12 years following his 1999 arrest and recently has been living in South Florida. His lawyer said he has been successfully working in an unspecified sales job since his release, and has an offer to work in a soon-to-open restaurant.

Troyer had his doubts.

"I don't think Mr. Merlino has actually worked a job in a very long time, if ever," he said.

A judge had earlier heard arguments Friday on whether prosecutors missed the deadline to revoke Merlino's parole.

Defense lawyer Edwin Jacobs Jr. argued that prosecutors didn't issue a summons for Merlino's arrest by the Sept. 6 end date of his three years of supervised release. Prosecutors said that Jacobs himself caused the problem by seeking to delay the revocation hearing due to schedule conflicts.

Merlino will remain free at least until U.S. District Judge R. Barclay Surrick decides the issue. He faces a year in prison or more if the judge agrees with prosecutors, and perhaps more time on supervised release.

Probation officials allege that the 52-year-old Merlino met with convicted felons and mob members in Florida, a violation of his parole. Jacobs calls any such meeting a chance encounter.

"Joey did absolutely fine for nearly three years, and suddenly, days before being released, he gets whacked with this claim," Jacobs said Friday. "Enough is enough. ... Federal resources can be devoted to more productive things than following Joey Merlino to a cigar bar."

Merlino's reputed successor, 75-year-old Joseph "Uncle Joe" Ligambi, was freed early this year after beating two racketeering trials.

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