Donald Trump had more explaining to do this week. A photo he took with an alleged ex-mob boss has raised some questions.
As spotted on Crooks & Liars, the former President of the United States is again under fire for a picture that shows him with Joseph Salvatore “Skinny Joey” Merlino. The man in question is an Italian-American mobster and reputed former boss of the Philadelphia crime family. Earlier this month, the politician and the made man took a flick together at the Trump International Golf Club West Palm Beach with another unidentified man; all three flashed Trump’s signature “thumbs up” hand sign.
Naturally, the photo has since gone viral prompting speculation why Donald was seen being chummy with an admitted member of the La Cosa Nostra. The Inquirer followed up with Donald Trump’s team and they deny he knows Merlino. “President Trump takes countless photos with people. That does not mean he knows every single person he comes in contact with” a spokesperson said. Merlino also tells The Inquirer that Trump “had no idea” who he was and that there were several people on line waiting to meet him.
Merlino was convicted of several RICO charges including racketeering, illegal gambling and extortion, in 2001. He was sentenced to 14 years in prison. Since his release from prison in 2011, the FBI and organized crime reporters believe he continues to run the Philadelphia–South Jersey Mafia. Merlino disputes this, saying he has retired from a life of crime. As of 2015, Merlino divides his time between south Florida and Philadelphia.