BOCA RATON – Former Philadelphia mob boss (and local restaurateur) “Skinny” Joey Merlino found himself in trouble for more than just racketeering as news of his infidelity was revealed during testimony in a Manhattan court.
The alleged affair came to light during the testimony of snitch John “Junior” Rubeo. Rubeo was addressing the court on the matter of a pharmaceutical saleswoman connected to Merlino through an insurance fraud scam.
“Listen, he got caught sleeping with her,” Rubeo stated.
The courtroom reacted to the blurted accusation. Merlino’s assembled confederates gasped, and his wife, Deborah Merlino, froze in stony shock at the public humiliation.
“He ended the relationship with her,” Rubeo went on. “It was his connection. He said, ‘She sends things to my house, my wife is going to find out.’”
Merlino’s attorney, Edwin Jacobs Jr., took an incredulous stance to the news. “So now you are telling us that Joey slept with this rep?”
“Yes, that’s what he told me,” Rubeo confirmed in no uncertain terms.
The court took a break shortly thereafter and Deborah—mustering what composure she could—slowly walked out with Joey and his friends trailing behind. Outside the courtroom, they sought what privacy they could and spoke quietly but intently, shielded by Joey’s entourage. They left in the elevator, with Joey’s friends ensuring that they rode alone.
When the court broke for lunch, Joey accosted a reporter at the courthouse with the demand, “Don’t put the girl in,” seeming more concerned about the trial’s impact on his personal life than the federal racketeering charges.
Deborah’s shock aside, it’s a road the couple have been down before. She herself has faced accusations of infidelity as well. A drug dealer (who worked with her husband) named William Rinick testified in 2003 that he drove Deborah to Maryland to get an abortion after an affair with a New York professional football player while Joey was in prison.
It should be noted, though, that Rinick might not be the most reliable of sources, given that he had an ax to grind with Deborah for testifying against him. The prosecutor suggested that Rinick himself may have had the affair with Deborah, as he was arrested in the Merlinos’ townhouse in his underwear shortly after Joey was sent to prison.
One can’t help but wonder what other revelations will emerge for the Merlino family, known as they are for such noteworthy and exciting trials.