Veteran NYC defense lawyer John Meringolo who bested the feds in high-profile cases dead at 48

Byron Smith for/New York Daily News/TNS

John Meringolo, a longtime Manhattan defense attorney who earned a reputation for besting federal prosecutors in high-profile cases, died Thursday. He was 48.

The veteran litigator’s father, Richard Meringolo, confirmed his death to the Daily News. His cause of death was not immediately apparent, though his father said it was unexpected. Meringolo is survived by his twin 1-year-old sons, his wife, and his parents.

“It’s horrifying,” his heartbroken father said. “It’s a very sad day.”

Meringolo became a thorn in the side of federal prosecutors after winning streaks defending notorious clients in several prominent mafia, RICO, and large-scale narcotics cases.

In 2018, he scored a mistrial in the racketeering case of Joseph “Skinny Joey” Merlino, the reputed head of the Philadelphia crime family.

He convinced a Manhattan jury to acquit former NYPD deputy inspector James “Jimmy” Grant of charges alleging he took bribes from corrupt Brooklyn businessman Jeremy Reichberg in January 2019.

A couple months later, he scored an acquittal for John “Porky” Zancocchio, the alleged lieutenant of the reputed head of the Bonanno crime family. Meringolo argued his client was a victim of ethnic profiling by the NYPD based on his Italian heritage.

He notched another win in the form of a mistrial earlier this year of Steve Bannon associate Timothy Shea in the federal “We Build the Wall” crowdfunding case. He also represented Shea at his second trial, which ended in a conviction last month.

He repped John “Junior” Gotti, Jr., at his fourth murder trial in 2009, which ended in a mistrial and the feds declining to bring more charges.

In 2012, he secured a $10 million settlement for the loved ones of fallen New York City firefighter Joseph Graffagnino, who died in 2007 in the infamous Deutsche Bank fire.

He was a law professor at Pace University, where he served as faculty advisor for the university’s Italian American Association, according to his online profile. He also taught and mentored students from Brooklyn Law School and New York Law School.

Meringolo, who argued before the Second Circuit Court of Appeals, co-founded a class at Pace University where students simulated the entire spectrum of a federal criminal case, from bail hearing to verdict, according to his profile on the university’s website.

Representatives for his law firm Meringolo & Associates, P.C., could not immediately be reached.