It's tough to turn down a meal filled with spaghetti, meatballs, and a few bottles of wine, which is why the FBI decided to throw a lavish dinner to lure in some major mob bosses. But this wasn't any ol' get together: the special agents dropped a cool $20,000 on the party, the New York Post reports.
FBI Special Agent William Inzerillo was specifically targeting Philadelphia mob boss Joseph “Skinny Joey” Merlino, and invited 19 other alleged gangsters to dinner as they stuffed their faces with "house specialties like gnocchi Bolognese and fettuccine matriciana" at Pasquale’s Rigoletto on Arthur Avenue in the Bronx. "We supplied the money. We paid for the party. Over 20 people attended the party, and we paid for all of them," Inzerillo said in Manhattan federal court.
The dinner was arranged so Manhattan prosecutors would have jurisdiction to charge Merlino in a racketeering scheme, a source familiar with the case explained. Prior to the twist of events, the feds paid for the mob boss' flight from Boca Raton, Fla. to NYC. That private flight cost an additional five racks. "We gave [Rubeo] $5,000 for the flight and transportation for [Merlino] and his wife," Inzerillo testified. "We gave $20,000 for the party, approximately $1,000 a head," he continued.
Earlier in court, Merlino tried to claim he was no longer part of the crime world. Yet Rubeo testified that he was still a major player and has not yet retired. Federal authorities stated Merlino helped organize a "criminal enterprise" that ran from Springfield, Mass. to South Florida. He was first arrested in August 2016 along with approximately four dozen other mobsters.