It would seem like every week there is something new in the papers about the mafia. This week Joey Merlino was back in the news because the guy who wore a wire on him was revealed.
It turns out that the main informant was John Rubeo, a Genovese family associate who was with Genovese capo Patsy Parrello. Rubeo found himself in trouble and was facing major time, so he went to team USA. In the age where bosses, capos and soldiers are flipping on those below, why wait to get flipped on? He was kept busy because the government has over 800 hours of taped conversations. He may have even taped Parrello looking to seek revenge on an Albanian gangster he thinks murdered his son.
One thing is for sure: he recorded Joey Merlino a lot because they were together often. Rubeo was sent by Parrello to work with Merlino in the prescription fraud, sham pain cream business.
Once again Merlino is done in by his own greed. He once told another associate that he would like to move to Florida not to get out of the Mafia, but to run a crew there.
The man he said that to was a criminal just like he was at the time. Bobby Luisi Jr. was a capo under Merlino. So much has changed in the decade since. The two men both did prison time and yet they are now on different paths.
Luisi was arrested in a sting for selling 3 kilos of cocaine to an undercover agent in Boston, where he was running the Philadelphia family crew. The informant was sent to Luisi from Philly by Merlino. Luisi was running a large enterprise of gambling, shylocking and drug dealing. He was kicking back $10k a month to Merlino from his Boston crew.
Some time in 1998 Luisi felt the needed for change in his life, and he found God. At the time what could he do? Tell the guys in the family, “Hey, sorry, I’ve had a change of heart.” That would have put him on the fast track to a shallow grave. As he was trying to figure out how to straighten out his life, he was arrested for selling cocaine and ended up in prison with a 15 year sentence.
It was while in prison he studied and earned his theology diploma. He started a Bible study for inmates. Once released, Luisi was relocated to Memphis Tennessee where he worked as a plant foreman until he became a full time minister. Today he uses his experience as a criminal gangster to help others find a personal relationship with God.
On the other hand, when Merlino was released he moved to Florida where he was charged for violating his parole for associating with a made member of the Philly family. Merlino is looking at another decade in prison or at least a few hundred grand in legal bills and another case.