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Reputed former Philadelphia mob boss summoned for parole violation hearing, could be jailed

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PHILADELPHIA — The reputed former boss of the Philadelphia mob could face more prison time after a judge ordered him to sit for a parole violation hearing Friday.

Federal prosecutors accuse Joseph "Skinny Joey" Merlino of violating the conditions of his supervised release by meeting with fellow mobsters in the Miami area.

The flashy 52-year-old Merlino spent more than a decade in prison for a 2001 racketeering conviction. Defense attorneys insist he had only a "chance encounter" with a former co-defendant at a cigar bar in Boca Raton.

They tried to knock down the issue down from the start, arguing that prosecutors failed to file the right paperwork before Merlino's three years of parole expired on Sept. 6.

However, U.S. District Judge R. Barclay Surrick blamed any delay on the defense, saying the sole reason was the fact that Merlino's attorney requested a delay in scheduling a hearing.

Defense lawyer Edwin Jacobs Jr. had said he needed to sort out his work calendar before scheduling the hearing.

Assistant U.S. Attorney David Troyer, a veteran mob prosecutor, told reporters this month that Merlino remains active in organized crime. Merlino called him "mental" and said he hoped to work in a new restaurant in Miami.

The Philadelphia mob has been fairly quiet since Merlino left for prison. Federal authorities tried to take down his reputed successor, 75-year-old Joseph "Uncle Joe" Ligambi, and several others in two recent federal racketeering trials. Jurors convicted his reputed underboss and several others after two trials that focused on small-time loans and video poker machines.

Ligambi beat the rap twice and is now back home in south Philadelphia.

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