Lawrence "Yogi" Merlino (Died 2001) was a Capo in the Philadelphia crime family and brother of fellow Philly mob member Salvatore "Chuckie" Merlino, who was the family underboss from 1981-1986. He was the uncle of "Skinny Joey" Joseph Merlino.
Early Life and Criminal Career
Salvatore and Lawrence "Yogi" Merlino were friends of Nicodemo Scarfo since they were teenagers. In the early 1960s, Scarfo was banished from South Philadelphia to the Italian enclave of Ducktown, Atlantic City for killing a man for no reason. This exile came at a time when Atlantic City was a dying town.
Legalized gambling changed everything in Atlantic City, and the Merlino brothers were by Scarfo’s side as he rose through the underworld to eventually become the Boss of the Philadelphia crime family. Yogi along with his brother Salvatore Merlino, controlled much of the construction of several Casino's during the 70's and 80's in Atlantic City. Other activities he participated in included Narcotics trafficking, loansharking, shakedowns and bookmaking. For most of the 1980s, Scarfo and his mob ruled with an iron fist.
The reign of Nicodemo Scarfo was bloody. Chuckie Merlino became an alcoholic and no one knew what he would say or do when he was drunk. The paranoid Scarfo removed Chuckie Merlino as underboss and installed his nephew Phil Leonetti. Lawrence Merlino was also demoted to the rank of soldier, for the simple fact of being Chuckie's brother. Merlino later went on to become a federal witness and testified against Scarfo, he passed away of natural causes in 2001.