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Jury Deliberates in Philadelphia Mob Trial

July 15, 2001|From Times Wire Reports

The jury in the federal racketeering trial of reputed mobster Joseph "Skinny Joey" Merlino and six others began deliberations after more than three months of testimony.

The lead prosecutor implored them to convict Merlino and other defendants of murder, drug trafficking and extortion charges.

Prosecutors argued that Merlino and confessed mob boss Ralph Natale ordered or approved three murders in the 1990s. Merlino could face life in prison if convicted.

Merlino attorney Edwin Jacobs Jr. disputed the prosecution's theory that Merlino and Natale orchestrated a mob war for control of a multimillion-dollar gambling and loan-sharking empire that stretched from Philadelphia to Atlantic City, N.J.

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