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Crime News

Mob Informant Who Testified Against Suspected Philly Mafia Boss Could Land In Hot Water Over Braggy Podcast Appearance

John Rubeo appeared on a podcast hosted by two ex-mafia associates and claimed to have committed more crime while a government witness than when he had while on the streets.

By Dorian Geiger
Joseph Merlino Ap

A former mafia informant, who wore a wire for years, could find himself behind bars after running his mouth on a podcast produced by other ex-mobsters.

John Rubeo, a former Genovese Family associate, claimed he profited from his time as a government witness and said he intentionally “mangled” the case against suspected Philadelphia mob boss Joseph "Skinny Joey" Merlino in a recent podcast, the New York Daily News reported.

Rubeo, who claimed to have destroyed evidence in Merlino’s case during his interview with John Alite and Gene Borrello, former associates of the Gambino and Bonanno crime families, respectively, also bragged he was still involved in criminal activity.

“I’m not a rube and I’m not going to be manipulated the way the FBI was during the investigation,” Manhattan Federal Court Judge Richard Sullivan said at a hearing earlier this month, according to GanglandNews.com. "He says on this podcast, ‘I’m probably going to get in trouble for this.'”

The irate federal judge blasted Rubeo, hinting there could be repercussions.

“So this was a decision that was made because Rubeo likes attention,” Sullivan said. “And that’s fine. But there’s going to be a price to be paid for that.”

In 2016, Rubeo was a star witness in a sprawling racketeering case against Merlino. Merlino wound up taking a sweetheart plea deal in 2018, following a mistrial. He was freed in July, according to the Daily News.

Rubeo, 45, told the podcast hosts he deleted numerous conversations with the Philadelphia mobster and performed a “factory reset” on his cell phone before turning it over to prosecutors, according to the Daily News. 

“I mangled the case [against Merlino],” Rubeo said. “It was embarrassing. I committed robberies while I was cooperating. I was gambling. I literally shouldn’t have had an agreement."

Rubeo also bragged of the lucrative nature of the informant work during that period, claiming he became a more brazen criminal after he began cooperating with investigators.

“I almost felt like I could be a better criminal because I worked for them, because I knew they weren’t watching me,” he said. “I was committing more crimes when I was working for them than when I was on the street, and they were paying me $15,000 a month.”

Meanwhile, Rubeo’s defense attorney, Louis Fasulo, attempted to paint the former mob associate’s podcast cameo as a cautionary tale for aspiring mobsters. Sullivan, the Manhattan federal judge, however, dismissed such claims. 

“I can’t believe that this guy, after getting a sentence of time served, given the nonsense that went on during this period of cooperation ... has the poor judgment to do this,” Sullivan added. “It was a sprawling conversation about organized crime. ... I think if anything, it sort of glorifies it by perpetuating it.”

Sullivan also noted that Rubio had violated his release conditions by appearing on the crime podcast with two “known felons.”

“Imagine my surprise when I read in the Daily News that Mr. Rubeo is appearing on podcasts with other convicted felons to talk about his history in the mob and his history as an informant and a cooperator and everything else,” the judge said. “To spin it now and say, ‘Oh well, my motives were pure because it was designed to tell people not to get involved in the life,’ is also just, I think preposterous."