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Fire at convicted mob boss Joey Merlino's cheesesteak shop investigated as arson

Fire damages "Skinny Joey's Cheesesteaks," co- owned by convicted mob boss Joey Merlino
Fire damages "Skinny Joey's Cheesesteaks," co-owned by convicted mob boss Joey Merlino 00:21

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – A fire at a cheesesteak shop co-owned by convicted Philadelphia mob boss Joey Merlino is under investigation as a possible arson, police confirmed on Friday.

Two incendiary devices were found at the scene, and federal authorities are now getting involved in the investigation.  

"The Fire Marshall responded to the scene declaring an arson," Philadelphia police officer Tanya Little said. 

The fire broke out Thursday morning at Skinny Joey's Cheesesteaks on Broad Street near Packer Avenue. The business was formerly known as Ace of Steaks.

The business was left damaged and the windows facing Broad Street were boarded up on Thursday.


Merlino, now a podcaster on "The Skinny with Joey Merlino," announced on social media in March that he was breaking ground at the former Ace of Steaks location.

He said he was going to "gut it, fix it."

"We're going to be the cleanest, best cheesesteak place in the city," Merlino said. "If you're going to any sporting events, Flyers, Sixers, Phillies, concerts, Eagles, come by here, stop in and see me. I'm going to be behind the grill making steaks."

Merlino was sent to federal prison after a jury found him guilty of racketeering and other charges in 2001, while acquitting him and six co-defendants on murder and attempted murder charges. He was released in 2011 but later served a short prison term for an illegal gambling charge.

Merlino referred questions about the fire to his attorney. CBS News Philadelphia has left messages for the attorney.

A spokesperson for the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives confirmed they are assisting the Philadelphia Fire Marshal in the investigation.

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