Joey Merlino is an Italian-American mobster and reputed boss of the Philadelphia crime family. He rose to power in the mid-nineties after he allegedly fought a war for control of the criminal organization. He has led the crime family in gambling, loan sharking, drug trafficking, and extortion. In comparison to other traditional mob bosses who shunned the limelight, Merlino has interacted regularly with the media and the public, often openly providing charity and hosting events to benefit indigent people in Philadelphia, drawing comparisons to the similarly outgoing, conspicuous, and ostensibly charitable late New York crime boss John Gotti. Joey is the son of deceased Philadelphia crime family underboss Chuckie Merlino.

Birth Name

Joseph Salvatore “Skinny Joey” Merlino






American, Italian

Personal Life

Birthday / Date of Birth

Joey Merlino was born on the 13th of March 1962, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United States.


He’s currently 61 years old.

Sun Sign




He has Italian ancestry.


Roman Catholicism


His educational qualifications are unknown.

Family Details

  • Father – Salvatore “Chuckie” Merlino (Mobster)
  • Mother – Rita Merlino
  • Siblings – Joseph “Joey Chang” Ciancaglini Jr. (Brother), Maria (Sister)

Marital Status



Girlfriend / Spouse

Joey Merlino has dated –

  • Deborah Merlino – Joey marriage with Deborah Merlino. The blessed with two children  Nicollete Merlino, Sophia Merlino.

Physical Statistics


  • In feet – 5 feet 3 inches
  • In centimeters – 161 cm
  • In meters – 1.61 m


  • In Kilograms – 60 kg
  • In Pounds – 132 lbs

Body Build


Eye Color

Dark Brown

Hair Color

Salt and Paper

Shoe Size

He wears a size 8 (US) shoe.



Professional Statistics

Famous For

Joey became known after as a Head of the Philadelphia crime family who was indicted on charges of conspiring to purchase and distribute cocaine, extortion, and illegal gambling.

Criminal Activity

In August 1982 at age 20, Merlino and Salvatore Scafidi, son of bookmaker Gaetano Scafidi Sr., beat and stabbed two male patrons at the Lido Restaurant in Atlantic City. In 1984 Merlino was found guilty on two counts of aggravated assault and one count of possession of a weapon for unlawful purpose. In August 1984 he was banned by the New Jersey Casino Control Commission from New Jersey casinos.

Mob Wars

In 1990, Merlino served his sentence at the Federal Correctional Institution, McKean, where he met mobster Ralph Natale. Natale was a longtime mobster who was serving a 15-year prison sentence for arson and drug trafficking. According to Natale, he and Merlino began plotting to take over the Philadelphia crime family during this period.

On August 31, 1993, a drive by shooting was performed on Stanfa and his son while they were driving on the Schuylkill Expressway. Stanfa escaped uninjured and his son survived being shot in the jaw. On September 17, 1993, a friend of Merlino’s was shot and killed by Stanfa gunmen.

Stanfa gunman Philip Colletti testified in court that he planted a remote control bomb under Merlino’s car several times, but that it failed to go off every time. In November 1993, Merlino was arrested by the FBI, charged with violation of his supervised release, and sent back to prison.

Mob Leader

In March 1994, Stanfa was arrested for Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act violations was convicted in 1995, and sentenced to life in 1996. With most of Stanfa’s supporters also arrested and convicted, Merlino, released from prison in November 1994, won the war and named Ralph Natale as the new boss while positioning himself as his underboss.

In 1995, Louis Turra, leader of the Philadelphia drug gang the 10th and Oregon crew (also known as the 10th and O gang), was severely beaten by Merlino’s men, allegedly for failing to pay a Mafia street tax on the gang’s illegal earnings.

Merlino was friends with Steve “Gorilla” Mondevergine, president of the Pagans MC motorcycle club. During the 1990s, Merlino was also aligned with members of the Junior Black MafiaFollowing Natale’s arrest for parole violation in 1999, Merlino officially took over the crime family, cutting off Natale.

Joey Merlino Net worth

Joey Merlino has an estimated net worth of $5 million dollars as of 2023.

Some Lesser Known Facts About Joey Merlino

  • Merlino was raised in South Philadelphia and Ventnor City, New Jersey. He has several family mob connections including his uncle who was allegedly a former member of the Philadelphia crime family.
  • Joey’s father owned and operated the 9M Bar in Southwark that Nicky Scarfo used as his criminal headquarters during his attempt to become the new boss of the Philadelphia crime family.
  • He had been friends with future made man in the Philadelphia crime family Michael “Mikey Chang” Ciancaglini and his brother Joseph “Joey Chang” Ciancaglini Jr.
  • In 1982, he was previously charged with aggravated assault and weapon possession after stabbing and beating two men.
  • Merlino and his associates started meeting with members of the Philadelphia-based Junior Black Mafia, commonly known as the JBM, which is composed of young, violent black males who specialize in the distribution of cocaine. He also enlisted the help of the Warlocks gang for some time.
  • In 1999, Joey was sentenced to 14 years and released in 2011 to a halfway house.
  • On April 24, 2015, Merlino was released from the Federal Detention Center, Miami after his sentence was vacated. He was released 10 days early and was free of any post-release restrictions after he won an appeal from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit.
  • In October 2019, Joey was granted an early release and moved to a halfway house to finish the rest of his sentence, later given supervised release in South Florida.
  • In January 2023, Merlino reappeared in the news when he posed for a photograph with former U.S. president Donald Trump at a Trump-owned golf club, with both men making a “thumbs up” gesture.


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