Declaring that the Mafia is not just the stuff of movie scripts, federal prosecutors charged nearly four dozen people Thursday with being part of an East Coast crime syndicate, including an old-school mobster in New York and a reputed mob chieftain in Philadelphia who has been pursued by the government for decades, the AP reports. The indictment, unsealed in New York City, accuses the defendants of a litany of classic mafia crimes, including extortion, loan sharking, casino-style gambling, sports gambling, credit card fraud, and health care fraud. It said the syndicate operated in New York, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, Florida, and New Jersey.
Diego Rodriguez, head of the FBI's New York office, says the indictment "reads like an old school Mafia novel." Among those charged was Joseph "Skinny Joey" Merlino, the flamboyant alleged head of the Philadelphia mob who has repeatedly beat murder charges in past cases but served nearly 12 years in prison for racketeering. Also named was Pasquale "Patsy" Parrello, identified as a longtime member of the Genovese organized-crime family and the owner of an Italian restaurant in New York City. He was detained without bail after prosecutors said he was a danger because of his "appetite and capacity for vengeance, control, and violence." Prosecutors said 39 of those charged were arrested on Thursday. (Read more Mafia stories.)