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Joseph Merola

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Jospeh Raymond Merola was an associate of Norman Rothman and the Mannarino brothers (Sam and Gabe). The Mannarinos, members of the Pittsburgh Mafia under John Sebastian LaRocca, were the original owners of the Sans Souci in Havana.

Merola was involved in flying guns to Castro with Rothman, Lou Pessolano, and the Mannarinos.

He was convicted of transporting stolen guns from a National Guard Armory in Canton, Ohio (Pittsburgh Mafia territory) to Castro's forces in 1958. He got five years in prison. I believe that is the case in which Jose Aleman testified for the prosecution.

DOB- 10/9/1925 - Pittsburgh, PA

DOD- 7/14/1994

Associates (in addtion to those above): Charlie "The Blade" Tourine, Santo Trafficante, and astronaut Gordon Cooper (?!?!).

Interesting sidenote to his file. His name was Joseph Raymond Merola, but there was another underworld character named Joseph Paul Merola whos einfo was included in the file. He had a bunch of arrests for bookmaking and beverage violations. The interesting thing is he is the only other wiseguy I know of who's primary business was a fish camp. He owned Popeye's Fishing Camp in Conch Key. The other fish camp wiseguy was Trafficante soldier Al Scaglione, who owned the Ruskin Fish Camp in Ruskin, FL.

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Another interesting associate of Merola's was Robert Spining. Spining was a pilot who in 1959 was arrested along with Merola and both men were charged with trying to smuggle ex Cuban General Roberto Fernandez Miranda into the U.S.

Fernandez Miranda was the brother-in-law of Batista.


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  • 5 years later...
Guest Tom Scully
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On 8 February, 1961, Justin F. Gleichauf of the CIA Miami Station authored a report on his recent visit to Merola's "palatial" Miami Beach home, at Merola's request.:


Gleichauf's military deputy was Col. Sam G. Kail.


Well, this apparently was what sparked the interest, and the more you look at it

the more interesting it gets....


Found in: HSCA Segregated CIA Collection (microfilm - reel 54: Maheu - Merola, Cobb, Ramon)

Assistant to DDO for External Oversight FROM Jackson R Horton Chief Domestic Collection Division

SUBJECT Joseph Raymond Merola DCD's only recorded contact with Joseph Raymond Merola

prior to August 1961 occurred on 6 February 1961. It followed a series of telephone calls over a series

of several months in which Merola had expressed interest in offering his assistance in connection

with Cuban matters. The DCD officer had declined contact until 6 February when Merola claimed to

have information on a Brazilian Senator who was a “close friend and confidante” of “Che” Guevera.

2. If the following deletions are made, I have no objections to the release of this document.

a. Heading: “Support”

b. Paragraph 4: delete the first sentence.

c. Paragraph 4: delete “Sam Kay”

d. Signature: Delete “Justin F. Gliechauf”

and “JFG/amb.”

RIF#: 104-10219-10022 (04/08/77) CIA#: 80T01357A


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