Joey Merlino Returns To South Philly For Father's Funeral - New York News

Joey Merlino Returns To South Philly For Father's Funeral

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Joey Merlino is seen outside of his father's funeral in South Philly. Joey Merlino is seen outside of his father's funeral in South Philly.
A look at Merlino's new South Florida home. A look at Merlino's new South Florida home.
SOUTH PHILADELPHIA -

Mob boss Joey Merlino is used to knocks on his door at all hours of the day and night. Sometimes it's friends, sometimes it's the FBI. This time, FOX 29 came knocking at his new South Florida home.

But apparently, Joey doesn't want to deal with the media these days and wasn't in the mood to talk us.

While we didn't catch up with Merlino in Florida as he and a friend drove away in his Cadillac Escalade, we did catch up with him in South Philadelphia just two weeks later.

Joey Returns To South Philly

Joey was in town for his father's funeral.

Former mob underboss Salvatore "Chuckie" Merlino died in federal prison after more than two decades behind bars.

The funeral attracted Merlino's old mob running mates, minus the half dozen that are on trial for racketeering downtown.

While they came to pay their respects in South Philly, our cameras were rolling.

Acting mob boss Steve Mazzone was there holding court outside the funeral home.

So was mob captain John Ciangalini, mob soldier Mike Lancelotti and wiseguy Anthony Nicademo.

Hurricane Sandy's fury delayed Merlino's father's funeral several days, leaving the mob boss in town for more than a week.

Sources say Merlino's first trip back to Philly in more than 12 years was a productive one, he got to spend plenty of time with the local wiseguys, even though he's still on probation from his racketeering conviction.

While Merlino may have been reminiscing with his old mob pals under the watchful eye of the feds, insiders say current mob business was more than likely discussed during his stay.

His lawyer says it's all nonsense.

"I hear that he was running the mob from prison. I hear that Ralph Natale really wasn't running the mob. I've heard all sorts of stories like that, but every time I ask a single question back, 'can you tell what you're factual basis is for that, what's the evidence?' nobody has an answer to that...it's all gossip and rumor," Merlino's attorney Edwin Jacobs said.

South Florida Connections 'Shaky At Best'

But while Merlino was touching base with his South Philly crew, Miami Herald investigative reporter Julie Brown cautions that Merlino's South Florida connections are shaky at best.

"There's no sense of loyalty here and I think he's going to have trouble with that. He better learn that right away. You really shouldn't trust anybody down here," Brown said.

Former Newark, New Jersey organized crime investigator Mike Russell, who spent years watching the mob and the past 18 months watching Merlino in Boca Raton, is even more skeptical about Merlino's power and influence in South Florida.

Russell has tailed Merlino everywhere in South Florida. From the gym where he worked out, to the restaurants where he likes to eat, the local cigar bars, even to the exclusive Boca club resort where Merlino had his invitation only 50th birthday party under tight security.

Russell says Merlino loves the night life and the locals love to hang out with the so-called "John Gotti of Passyunk Avenue".

Miami Herald reporter Julie Brown says the head of one South Florida organized crime family is not happy Merlino is here.

So while Joey was renewing old ties in South Philly this month, Brown says his new ties in South Florida seem to be more like loose ends. And that could mean trouble down the road.

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