Reputed Mob Figure Arrested In Raid Police Say Joseph "Mousie" Massimino, An Associate Of Jailed Joseph Merlino, Ran A $25 Million Gambling Ring.

Posted: December 08, 1999

A top associate of jailed mob boss Joseph "Skinny Joey" Merlino has been charged with operating a multimillion-dollar gambling, loan-sharking and extortion network in South Jersey and South Philadelphia.

Joseph "Mousie" Massimino, 49, was described by New Jersey authorities yesterday as the "ringleader" of an operation that police said had taken in more than $25 million in bets annually.

Massimino was one of eight reputed bookmakers arrested Monday night in a series of raids in Philadelphia and South Jersey coordinated by the New Jersey State Police Narcotics and Organized Crime Bureau.

The raids, at 22 locations, were planned to coincide with the weekly Monday night National Football League game, said Lt. William Newsome, head of the narcotics and organized crime unit.

"We thought there would be a large amount of evidence available on a Monday night," said Newsome, explaining that bookmakers usually tallied up their week's work then.

At a news conference yesterday, New Jersey authorities said the raids had netted $52,978 in cash and "voluminous sports bookmaking, gambling and loan-sharking records; gambling paraphernalia; electronic communications equipment; and computers."

In addition, a rifle, a shotgun and a pound of marijuana were seized. About 100 investigators with state, county and local law enforcement agencies in South Jersey and Pennsylvania took part in the operation.

The raid was the culmination of a 15-month investigation, Lt. Col. Robert Dunlop of the New Jersey State Police said at a news conference yesterday at the state police offices in Bellmawr.

The investigation also uncovered evidence that Massimino and others "used force and the threat of violence to collect unlawful gambling debts," said state prosecutor Kim Guadagno, one of several other officials at the news conference.

Authorities declined to provide any specific background information on Massimino or the others charged in the case.

Federal and state law enforcement authorities have identified Massimino, who lives in Southwest Philadelphia, as a "made" or formally initiated member of the mob. He has an arrest record dating back to the 1970s. In 1988, he was convicted and sentenced to two years in jail for his role in a mob-connected drug ring. In 1993, he pleaded guilty to a racketeering charge linked to a gambling and drug operation.

In an organized-crime chart used by the FBI and the New Jersey Division of Criminal Justice, Massimino is listed as a "soldier" in the crime family led by Merlino.

Merlino, 37, has been in jail since June after his arrest on federal drug-trafficking charges. He is scheduled to be tried in January.

Authorities said yesterday that Massimino and those arrested with him faced up to 35 years in jail if convicted of the gambling, loan-sharking, extortion and conspiracy charges.

The evidence will now be presented to a New Jersey grand jury.

Four of the locations raided Monday were in South Philadelphia, and 18 were in South Jersey. Most were residences, police said.

Newsome said the gambling ring included several "wire rooms" to which bets could be phoned in. The largest was a restaurant in South Philadelphia, police said. Another restaurant in South Jersey was also cited as a central location for the gambling operation.

Arrested along with Massimino were Edward Parisi, 58, of Mount Laurel; Richard Peterson, 49, and George Colucci, 35, both of Runnemede; Frank DiGirolamo, 32, of South Philadelphia; Joseph Mengle, 39, of Blackwood; Joseph Fina, 53, of Glassboro; and Anthony Bova, 43, of Monroe Township.

Police said a pound of marijuana had been seized during the raid of Colucci's home on Holly Avenue in Runnemede.

Colucci, Mengle, Fina and Bova were released on their own recognizance. Peterson was being held in the Camden County Jail after failing to post $125,000 bail.

Massimino, Parisi and DiGirolamo, all arrested in Philadelphia, were in custody in Philadelphia pending extradition to New Jersey.

Newsome described the gambling and loan-sharking ring as "one of the largest" ever broken up by the state police in southern New Jersey.

Dunlop said the investigation was "ongoing" and could result in additional arrests.

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