Reputed mob leader admits racketeering Joseph "Mousie" Massimino, 53, pleaded guilty in a case involving a gambling operation.

Posted: March 05, 2004

The beleaguered Philadelphia mob took another hit yesterday when reputed crime family underboss Joseph "Mousie" Massimino pleaded guilty to racketeering and loan-sharking charges in New Jersey.

Massimino, 53, entered the plea in state Superior Court in Camden yesterday afternoon as a federal jury in Newark began deliberating the fate of jailed mob boss Joseph "Skinny Joey" Merlino in a high-profile murder case.

Merlino, who is serving a 14-year term on racketeering charges, could be sentenced to life if convicted in connection with the 1996 slaying of Newark mobster Joseph Sodano. The jury spent about five hours considering the case yesterday without reaching a verdict. Deliberations are to resume this morning.

Massimino faces a 10-year sentence after admitting that he controlled what state investigators described as a "large-scale illegal gambling and loan shark operation which took in thousands of dollars in illegal wages each week during the mid-to-late 1990s." A second defendant, Edward "Pop" Parisi, 62, of Mount Laurel, pleaded guilty to the same charges.

They are to be sentenced by Judge William J. Cook on May 28.

Massimino, Parisi and six others were arrested in December 1999 as part of a sweeping New Jersey State Police investigation. Authorities alleged that the gambling operation headed by Massimino extended from Philadelphia into South Jersey.

Massimino and the others were indicted in 2001. The six other defendants have already pleaded guilty.

According to state and federal law enforcement sources, Massimino, of Southwest Philadelphia, assumed the number-two spot in the Philadelphia-South Jersey crime family after Merlino and several of his top associates were convicted in 2001.

Two years ago, in a petition to ban Massimino from Atlantic City's casinos, the New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement cited his alleged mob ties and his 30-year criminal record for offenses ranging from drug dealing and assault and battery to larceny, gambling and the receipt of stolen property.

In the current case, Massimino was identified by authorities as a "ranking" member of organized crime and the head of the gambling and loansharking operation.

Contact staff writer George Anastasia at 856-779-3846 or ganastasia@phillynews.com.

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