The claim was far fetched: that the Philly mob delivered thousands of votes for Joe Biden. The person claiming it was even less believable: a known misinformation merchant.
A Buffalo blog notorious for peddling election misinformation has captured the attention of top Trump supporters with a bizarre tale of the Philly mob swinging the election for Biden.
Matthew Ricchiazzi runs the Buffalo Chronicle, a fake news site that’s been masquerading as a real newspaper since 2014. He hit what counts as the big time for crank sites with a handful of dubious and debunked stories about Canadian elections. Now, thanks to some credulous amplification by plugged-in Trumpsters, he’s on the verge of a repeat performance in an American election with a fanciful conspiracy tale about a Philadelphia mob boss cranking out thousands of ballots for Biden.
Ricchiazzi’s story is as full of complexity as it is empty of any shred of evidence. It spins a convoluted tale of alleged former Philly mob boss “Skinny” Joey Merlino through generous use of the passive voice and generic anonymous sources whose proximity to the supposed conspiracy Ricchiazzi never explains.
Ricchiazzi and his unnamed sources allege that Merlino, a former boss of the Philadelphia mafia, conspired with pro-Biden Philadelphia election officials who provided him with “crates of raw ballots just hours before polls closed on election night” which he and unnamed associates supposedly filled out for Biden at a rate of up to 6,000 per hour.
Merlino, Ricchiazzi’s unnamed sources claimed, would be willing to “flip” on Biden in exchange for an expungement of his criminal record from Trump and, for some reason, a job at the National Parks Service.
Left unexplained is why Merlino, who now lives in Florida on supervised release from federal racketeering charges, would be in Philadelphia and inclined towards or able to conspire with the local election officials and the Biden campaign for election fraud. Nor does Ricchiazzi explain why supposedly crooked city election officials in possession of thousands of blank ballots would need to outsource filling them out.
“As a historian, yes, anything is possible but the idea that Joey Merlino or any mafia group would get involved in this particular election seems ludicrous on multiple levels,” Christian Cipollini, an organized crime historian and author at Gangland Legends, told The Daily Beast.
Merlino, who was released from prison to his home in Florida, remains on supervised release by federal authorities.
The idea that an obscure blog with no record of organized crime reporting could suddenly get in contact with close Merlino associates also seems far-fetched to Cipollini, who’s reported extensively on organized crime for years.
“You can’t just call up and say ‘hey Frank, tell me what Joey’s up to,’” he told The Daily Beast. “It’s highly unlikely that a legitimate inside person close to Joey Merlino or the Philly mob is going to leak that kind of major information, even on the off chance it was remotely accurate.”
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Source: Daily Beast