PG NewsPG delivery
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette Home Page
PG News: Nation and World, Region and State, Neighborhoods, Business, Sports, Health and Science, Magazine, Forum
Sports: Headlines, Steelers, Pirates, Penguins, Collegiate, Scholastic
Lifestyle: Columnists, Food, Homes, Restaurants, Gardening, Travel, SEEN, Consumer, Pets
Arts and Entertainment: Movies, TV, Music, Books, Crossword, Lottery
Photo Journal: Post-Gazette photos
AP Wire: News and sports from the Associated Press
Business: Business: Business and Technology News, Personal Business, Consumer, Interact, Stock Quotes, PG Benchmarks, PG on Wheels
Classifieds: Jobs, Real Estate, Automotive, Celebrations and other Post-Gazette Classifieds
Web Extras: Marketplace, Bridal, Headlines by Email, Postcards
Weather: AccuWeather Forecast, Conditions, National Weather, Almanac
Health & Science: Health, Science and Environment
Search: Search by keyword or date
PG Store: Pittsburgh Post-Gazette merchandise
PG Delivery: Home Delivery, Back Copies, Mail Subscriptions


Headlines by E-mail

Headlines Region & State Neighborhoods Business
Sports Health & Science Magazine Forum

Philadelphia mob boss indicted in N.J. in killing he was acquitted of in Pa.

Tuesday, August 21, 2001

By Jeffrey Gold, The Associated Press

NEWARK, N.J. -- A month after being convicted of racketeering in Philadelphia, mob boss Joseph Merlino was indicted in New Jersey for a murder he was acquitted of by the federal jury in Pennsylvania.

Merlino is likely to raise the issue of double jeopardy in fighting the new charge, said Edwin J. Jacobs Jr., the lawyer who won Merlino's acquittal last month on three murders, two attempted murders and cocaine trafficking.

That jury, however, convicted Merlino of racketeering, extortion, illegal bookmaking and receiving stolen property following a four-month federal trial. Six others were also convicted of racketeering and other offenses.

Merlino, leader of the Philadelphia-South Jersey mob also known as the Bruno crime family, could face the death penalty or life in prison if convicted of playing a role in the 1996 killing of Joseph Sodano, a Bruno "capo" or captain in northern New Jersey.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Laura J. Kaplan said no decision has been made on whether to seek the death penalty in the Sodano murder.

She declined to comment on the question of double jeopardy.

The new charges came as Merlino was added to two counts of an indictment first returned in March against nine New Jersey men.

The nine are accused of operating a loan-sharking and illegal gambling operation in northern New Jersey for the Bruno mob. All have pleaded innocent.

Only one of those suspects, Vincent Centorino, is accused in the Sodano murder. Merlino and he are charged with murder in aid of racketeering, which carries the death penalty or life, and conspiracy to murder, which carries up to 10 years in prison.

Merlino is to be arraigned on the murder charges Sept. 5 before U.S. District Judge Dickinson R. Debevoise in Newark.

Jacobs, who already represents one of the nine men originally indicted, Daniel D'Ambrosia, said he would ask the judge for permission to continue representing D'Ambrosia and present a united defense with Merlino's possible lawyer in this case, Christopher Warren.

Merlino is to be sentenced in December by U.S. District Court Judge Herbert Hutton in Philadelphia. Prosecutors have said Merlino could face seven years in prison, but Jacobs has estimated a sentence of about three years with credit for the two years served since his arrest.

Merlino remains in custody but last week filed a motion with Hutton seeking bail pending sentencing. Jacobs said no date has been set for a hearing on that request.

Kaplan, the prosecutor in Newark, said she would ask Debevoise to deny bail. Jacobs said that issue was largely academic, given that Merlino would soon be serving a multiyear prison term.

The recent Philadelphia trial featured testimony from admitted mob boss Ralph Natale, who said that Sodano was killed because he refused to come to Philadelphia for a meeting with mob leadership, but the defense presented witnesses who suggested that Sodano was actually shot during a robbery.

bottom navigation bar Terms of Use  Privacy Policy