Merlino, in NY court, pleads not guilty to federal racketeering charges

Reputed mob boss Joey Merlino made an appearance in federal court in Manhattan and pleaded not guilty to racketeering charges.

Earlier this month, he was arrested at his Boca Raton, Florida, home. Merlino was one of nearly four dozen reputed members of an East Coast crime syndicate charged with racketeering and various crimes including extortion, loansharking, casino-style gambling, sports gambling, credit card fraud and health care fraud.

Specifically, the 54-year-old Merlino is charged with allegedly taking part in a health care fraud scheme where conspirators got corrupt doctors to bill insurers for unnecessary prescriptions for expensive compound creams in exchange for kickbacks.

He and friends posted $5 million in property and cash equity to get out of jail and be on house arrest in Boca. Those terms allow Merlino to travel to New York for court, and Atlantic City to meet with his lawyer.

Merlino's lawyer had said he's fighting the charges, which could land him in prison for 20 years.

Merlino's most recent stint behind bars came back in early 2015 when he was found to have violated terms of his supervised release by failing to report an encounter with a former associate.

The reputed former head of Philadelphia's La Cosa Nostra served four months for the violation.

Merlino and his 45 codefendants will be back in federal court on October 31st, Halloween Day, when they will discuss motions in this case and potentially set a date for trial.