Jon Campisi Sep. 20, 2011, 2:37pm

A former Pennsylvania secretary of state who held various high-ranking positions in the commonwealth and its neighbor to the east has joined the local law firm of Lavin, O’Neil, Ricci, Cedrone & DiSipio.

Basil L. Merenda, who was appointed Secretary of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania in June 2010 by former Gov. Ed Rendell, has become the newest member of Lavin, O’Neil, Ricci, Cedrone & DiSipio, the law firm announced in a press release on its website Sept. 13.

The release says that Merenda also previously served as the commissioner of the Pennsylvania Department of State, Bureau of Professional and Occupational Affairs, during which he oversaw nearly 400 employees and a budget of $45 million.

Under Merenda’s tenure with the BPOA, the state legislature created two new licensure boards for the first time since 1990: the Pennsylvania State Board of Message Therapy and the Pennsylvania State Board of Crane Operators.

As Secretary of the Commonwealth, Merenda oversaw more than 500 employees and a $101 million budget. The department is responsible for licensing health and real estate businesses, maintaining registrations and financial information for thousands of charities that solicit contributions from Pennsylvanians, and overseeing state elections. It also maintains corporate filings and sanctions various professional sports in Pennsylvania.

Before Merenda joined the BPOA, the release states, he served as deputy attorney general in the Division of Criminal Justice in the New Jersey Attorney’s General’s Office. Merenda worked primarily in the Antitrust and Financial Crimes Bureau while in Trenton, where he was responsible for various antitrust enforcement and litigation matters, the release states. Here, Merenda succeeded in obtaining various white-collar convictions, settlements and pleas, including criminal antitrust bid-rigging, corruption prosecutions and government procurement cases.

Merenda also previously served as legal counsel to the United Food and Commercial Workers Union Local 1776, and has handled various aspects of union labor law, from litigation to hearings and motions, the news release states.

“We are delighted that Basil Merenda has joined our firm,” Basil DiSipio, managing shareholder of the Lavin firm, said in a statement. “My colleagues and I have known him for many years, and we are happy to be able to offer his extensive knowledge to our clients.”

Merenda has joined Lavin as a member of the firm’s Litigation Practices Group, and will represent clients in regulatory matters, including internal reviews and corporate compliance, the Lavin release states.

Merenda will also represent licensees before state professional and occupational licensing boards, as well as professional organizations and associations.

In addition to being an accomplished lawyer, Merenda has tried his hand at writing, penning various op-ed articles on everything from public policy issues to regulatory topics, the news release states.

Merenda, who is licensed to practice law in Pennsylvania and New Jersey, is a South Philadelphia native who obtained his law degree at Villanova University.

Lavin specializes in product liability, environmental and toxic tort cases to mass tort litigation. The firm was founded 25 years ago in Philadelphia, and has since opened up offices in New Jersey and New York.

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