The Chicago Syndicate: Carmen DiNunzio
Showing posts with label Carmen DiNunzio. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Carmen DiNunzio. Show all posts

Tuesday, May 08, 2012

Current New England Mob is Not Your Father's Mafia

Anthony DiNunzio, the alleged don of the New England Mafia, sat in a federal courthouse in Rhode Island last week, draped in tan prison garb, nodding as a federal judge said he faces a lengthy prison term if convicted of racketeering and extortion.

The New England Mafia. Illustrated.: With testimoney from Frank Salemme and a US Government time line.Boston Mob: The Rise and Fall of the New England Mob and Its Most Notorious Killer

Luigi Manocchio, DiNunzio’s 84-year-old predecessor, will go before a judge in Rhode Island on Friday to be sentenced for extorting protection payments from strip clubs. And Mark Rossetti, one of the most feared captains in the New England mob, is being held in Massachusetts on state charges of extortion and bookmaking. He has been cooperating with the FBI as an informant. Meanwhile, Robert DeLuca, a notorious captain from Rhode Island, has disappeared from the area and is widely reported to be cooperating with authorities against his fellow made members.

This is the leadership of the New England Mafia, a skeleton of the organization glorified in novels and in Hollywood. No more than 30 made, or sworn-in, members make up an organization that in its heyday was more than 100 strong, law enforcement officials say.

Investigators, legal observers, and court records describe an organization that continues to erode, as made members and associates abandon the code of silence and cooperate with investigators. The younger crop is addicted to drugs, and the older, wiser members have either died or have gone to jail, officials said.

“This is not your father’s Mafia,’’ said Massachusetts State Police Detective Lieutenant Stephen P. Johnson, who oversees organized crime investigations as head of the Special Service Section.

He said the arrest of the 53-year-old DiNunzio by federal authorities from Rhode Island on April 25, about two years into his reign as boss, also shows that law enforcement has been able to suppress the workings of the Mafia to the point their crimes are minimal.

DiNunzio is the sixth consecutive head of the New England Mafia to be charged: His predecessors have all been convicted, and the area has not seen a don hold as much power as Raymond L.S. Patriarca, the longtime head of the Patriarca crime family, did until his death in 1984.

Patriarca, who died at the age of 76, controlled an empire in the 1960s that stretched from Rhode Island to Maine, specializing in loan sharking, illegal gambling, and profiting on stolen goods, according to FBI documents released after his death. "In this thing of ours,’’ Patriarca once told an associate while under electronic surveillance, “your love for your mother and father is one thing; your love for The Family is a different kind of love.’’

Johnson and other investigators still expect someone will take DiNunzio’s place, knowing that, for some, the thought of living the “Sopranos’’ lifestyle is too attractive to ignore. “If it wasn’t for the Sopranos, we’d be able to suppress it even more,’’ Johnson said. “You’ve got to continually prune at the mob, because if you don’t it will grow like a weed.’’

Anthony Cardinale - a Boston lawyer who has represented a Who’s Who of Mafia figures including former bosses Francis “Cadillac Frank’’ Salemme and the late Gennaro Angiulo - said that as long as there are criminals who need protection, there will be organized crime. “As long as there’s drugs going on, and bookmaking, there will always be a mob,’’ he said. “Even with all the risks involved, there will still be somebody policing the bad guys, and that’s what the mob guys do.’’

He added, however, “as far as I’m concerned, it’s a dying occupation, in a sense that anyone who’s out there should realize that if they look to the left or look to the right, they should realize someone is working with the FBI or wearing a wire . . . which is unheard of.’’

According to prosecutors, at least two Mafia figures have cooperated against DiNunzio: One of them is a senior member of the New York-based Gambino crime family who has reportedly committed suicide, and the other is said to be DeLuca.

DiNunzio can be heard in wire recordings saying, “You get no shot today, no shot at all.’’

DiNunzio is the younger brother of convicted mobster Carmen “The Cheeseman’’ DiNunzio, the former underboss who was jailed for trying to bribe an undercover agent posing as a state highway worker, and separately for extortion and gambling.

Both brothers started their careers in organized crime with the Chicago Mafia, and were convicted in 1993 of extorting gamblers in Las Vegas for a Chicago Mafia crew based in Southern California. They served several years in prison before making their way to Boston.

Anthony DiNunzio became acting boss of the Patriarca family in early 2010, following the arrests of his brother and predecessors Peter Limone, who is in his late 70s, and Manocchio.

Limone is serving probation for bookmaking. Manocchio and several members of his crew have pleaded guilty to extorting strip clubs in Rhode Island.

Soon after becoming boss, Anthony DiNunzio allegedly demanded 50 percent of the strip club payments that were going to Manocchio’s crew, a demand that would prove to be his downfall. He faces up to 20 years on some charges, and a judge has ordered that he be held without bail.

Longtime Mafia observers said the arrest of DiNunzio was disappointing, embarrassing even, given that the once-proud organization has resorted to shaking down strip clubs.

“It’s just not glamorous now,’’ said Arlene Violet, a former Rhode Island attorney general and radio personality who has written a musical about the mob lifestyle. She recalls the days when made members ran businesses and matched wits with Wall Street.

“When your scheme is shaking down strip clubs, oh brother,’’ she said. “It’s so sleazy. Their crimes aren’t as sexy anymore.’’

Even in Boston’s North End, where prosecutors said DiNunzio showed up regularly at the Gemini Club, a small, members-only social club on Endicott Street, locals said the Mafia’s working was virtually non-existent.

“I’ve never heard of anybody being pressured here,’’ said Joanne Prevost Anzalone, former president of the North End Chamber of Commerce. “I think it’s always been a little exaggerated here to begin with. . . . You don’t walk down the street here and see anything you don’t see in any other neighborhood in the city.’’

But according to prosecutors, DiNunzio wanted power, and he sought to define his reign as soon as he took the helm. He explored ways to extort new businesses, and used the threats of violence to keep his underlings in order. He had questioned whether any of his members were cooperating with the FBI, and he suspected Salemme, who is in a witness protection program, was talking. He sent someone to look for the former boss.

DiNunzio had also worked quickly to reestablish a crew in Rhode Island, following the arrest of Manocchio and the arrest of his crew in September 2011.

He named an existing made member captain, so that he could continue the extortion of strip clubs, according to prosecutors. But the new captain, prosecutors said in court last week, wanted to install his own crew, to replace everyone he knew to be under investigation.

“They’re all in trouble up there, they ain’t coming home,’’ the new captain reportedly said.

Thanks to Milton J. Valencia

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Providence Strip Clubs Reputedly Pay $2 Million to New England Mafia

Federal prosecutors yesterday charged three alleged members of the New England Mafia and three associates with extorting money from Rhode Island’s adult entertainment industry since the 1980s, a racketeering scheme that netted its members some $2 million.

In a seven-count indictment unsealed in Providence today, federal authorities also indicate that the leadership of the Mafia in New England has shifted back to Boston after being under the control of Providence-based mobsters for the past several years.

In one portion of the 22-page document, alleged Mafia capo Edward (Eddie) Lato is quoted as saying that every time he meets with an unidentified Mafia figure in Boston, it is clear that the man is under surveillance by law enforcement.

“Every time I leave, there’s someone looking at me…there’s a guy on the corner every (expletive) time,’’ the 64-year-old Lato said, according to the indictment. “They’re following him…I mean…not that they’re not suppose (sic) to follow him, he’s the (expletive) boss.’’

Rhode Island US Attorney Peter Neronha said in a telephone interview yesterday that he would not identify the current leaders of the New England La Cosa Nostra. “The government views this is as a major step forward in eradicating the NELCN,’’ Neronha said of the Rhode Island crackdown in a telephone interview. “There is no question when charges are brought against seven individuals that are among the leaders of the NELCN – that’s a significant step.’’

In the indictment, prosecutors said that Rhode Island mobster Luigi (Baby Shacks) Manocchio, who is 84 years old, was the leader of the New England Mafia until he stepped down in 2009.

Last year, Carmen (The Cheese Man) DiNunzio, who led the Boston Mafia, was imprisoned after he pleaded guilty to delivering a $10,000 bribe to an undercover FBI agent. DiNunzio operated a cheese store in Boston’s North End on Endicott Street.

Lato, according to the new charges against him, allegedly met with a “high ranking’’ Mafia member on May 5, 2011, at the intersection of Endicott and Thatcher streets in Boston. The FBI searched the Boston Mafia associate after the meeting ended and seized $5,000 in cash.

According to the document, Lato told an associate a week later that the $5,000 included money he had extorted from Rhode Island nightclubs.

No one from Massachusetts was named in yesterday’s indictment.

In addition to the charges against Lato, also indicted yesterday was Manocchio, and alleged Mafia member 70-year-old Alfred (Chippy) Scivola, who has already pleaded guilty to earlier racketeering charges.

Manocchio is accused of masterminding the scheme that relied on the threat of force to extort as much as $6,000 a month from each club, payments made by the owners for years, authorities allege. The clubs were identified in court papers as the Satin Doll, the Cadillac Lounge and the Foxy Lady.

Manocchio’s illegal control over the Cadillac Lounge included forcing the owners to hire his hand-picked allies to manage the books or to work as bouncers, authorities allege.

Also charged were alleged Mafia associates Thomas (Tommy) Iafrate, Richard Bonafiglia, Theodore (Teddy) Cardillo and 47-year-old Raymond (Scarface) Jenkins.

Lato is charged with racketeering conspiracy, two counts of extortion conspiracy and two counts of travel in aid of racketeering. Scivola is charged with racketeering conspiracy and extortion conspiracy. Jenkins is charged with extortion conspiracy and extortion.

A seventh man, alleged Mob associate 53-year-old Albino (Albi) Folcarelli, allegedly joined Jenkins and Lato in a separate conspiracy to extort $25,000 in cash from a man known only as “Person A.’’

All seven are in federal custody.

Assistant Attorney General Lanny Breuer of the Department of Justice said the prosecution in Rhode Island, and the prosecution of organized crime figures around the country, offer a clear sign that the federal government is on the move. “We are just not going away,’’ he said in a telephone interview.

The investigation was conducted by a task force composed of federal and state law enforcement agencies and the Providence police, officials said.

Thanks to John R. Ellement

Sunday, July 12, 2009

New Boss Running the Boston Mafia

There’s a new don in town.

Lt. Stephen Johnson of the Massachusetts State Police, special services unit, confirmed today that a new gangster has supplanted Carmen “The Cheeseman” DiNunzio as godfather as the Boston mafia.

DiNunzio, 51, pleaded guilty in Salem Superior Court to extortion and gaming charges as part of a joint state and federal sentencing agreement. He’ll serve six years in a federal prison starting in September.

Johnson declined to say who is now in charge of the mob in Boston.

Despite busting up a widespread bookmaking operation north of Boston and putting DiNunzio away, Johnson said, “it’s just a drop in the bucket,” adding that the mafia is alive and well in Boston.

DiNunzio will be sentenced in federal court Sept. 24 on charges he attempted to bribe a Big Dig official over a dirt deal. He will be sentenced Sept. 25 in Salem.

DiNunzio was facing up to 52 years behind bars. DiNunzio left court without commenting.

DiNunzio’s longtime attorney, Anthony Cardinale, said his client is “anxious to get on with the next phase of his life,” while adding that he’s concerned about his health problems, including diabetes.

Cardinale said the federal case was “particularly troubling” because his client was caught on tape. “There was not much we could do,” he said. “Viewing both of them together it was our decision to make the best deal we could.”

Essex District Attorney Jonathan Blodgett said state police spent many years on the investigation.

Thanks to Laurel J. Sweet

Friday, July 03, 2009

Carmen "The Cheeseman" DiNunzio, The Reputed Underboss of the New England Mob, Pleads Guilty

The reputed underboss of the New England mob has pleaded guilty to federal bribery charges in a plea deal that will send him to prison for six years.

Carmen "The Cheeseman" DiNunzio pleaded guilty Wednesday to bribing an undercover FBI agent posing as a state highway department official in an attempt to win a $6 million contract on the Big Dig highway project.

DiNunzio is expected to plead guilty next week to separate state gambling and extortion charges.

Prosecutors have agreed to wrap both cases together under one plea agreement and to recommend a sentence of six years in federal prison. Sentencing was scheduled for Sept. 24.

Authorities say the 51-year-old DiNunzio has been underboss of the New England branch of the Mafia since 2004

Monday, June 22, 2009

Carmen “The Cheeseman” DiNunzio to Get Married, Despite House Arrest

“When the stars make you drool just like a pasta fazool, that’s amore!”

The late Dean Martin is unavailable to croon for the reception band, but reputed Boston Mafia godfather Carmen “The Cheeseman” DiNunzio has been shot by Cupid’s arrow and is engaged to be married, the Herald has learned.

A source confirms DiNunzio, 51, who has shed some 75 pounds since being placed on house arrest in East Boston more than a year ago, plans to wed Denise Spagnuolo, 53, of the North End.

It was unclear yesterday how the romance bloomed, given DiNunzio’s commitment to a GPS bracelet. The blushing bride hung up on a reporter who called to offer congratulations. Her groom-to-be’s attorney declined comment.

DiNunzio has asked a U.S. District Court judge to let him go to dinner in style tonight for a belated Father’s Day celebration at a restaurant approved by the U.S. Attorney’s Office and pretrial services.

In a promising sign of male bonding, the guest list includes Spagnuolo’s sons, Joseph and Caesar.

The honeymoon, however, may have to be put on ice.

DiNunzio faces state extortion and gambling charges in Essex County and is scheduled to go to trial Oct. 19 on federal charges that he bribed an undercover FBI agent posing as a Massachusetts Highway inspector $10,000 in 2006 to purchase 300,000 yards of untested loam for the Big Dig for $6 million.

In addition to being the alleged underboss of the New England La Cosa Nostra, DiNunzio owns the North End’s “Fresh Cheese” shop.

Last summer, when DiNunzio’s weight hit 400 pounds, the federal court agreed to grant him 60 minutes of freedom each day to join a gym or go walking. DiNunzio’s doctors at Massachusetts General Hospital said he had diabetes and was at risk of heart failure if he didn’t slim down.

Thanks to Laurel J. Sweet

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Convictions for 4 in Racketeering, Loan Sharking and Extortion Case Including Arthur Gianelli

Reputed Mafia associate Arthur Gianelli kept meticulous records for his sprawling sports betting and loan shark ring, including a list of so-called problem people that included deadbeat gamblers and mobsters who were shaking him down for a cut of his profits.

He warned his girlfriend to "keep your mouth shut" about his gambling business, unaware that State Police investigators were secretly recording that phone call and hundreds more as he and his associates blabbed about arson, extortion, money-laundering, and other crimes.

Yesterday, after weighing all those records and phone calls, a US District Court jury in Boston found Gianelli, 51, of Lynnfield, guilty of hundreds of charges, including racketeering, arson, illegal gambling, money laundering, and attempted extortion.

The jury of six men and six women, which deliberated 23 hours over four days, also found Gianelli's three codefendants - Dennis "Fish" Albertelli, 56, and his wife, Gisele Albertelli, 54, of Stow, and Frank Iacaboni, 65, of Leominster - guilty of racketeering conspiracy and a variety of other charges in the case that prosecutors say marked the downfall of a sprawling enterprise protected by the Mafia.

"This prosecution eliminated one of the largest gambling and loan-sharking operations operating in the Greater Boston area," Assistant US Attorney Fred Wyshak said after the verdict. "It was affiliated with organized crime, and this is part of the government's battle against organized crime."

There was testimony during the eight-week trial that Gianelli, who is the brother-in-law of disgraced former FBI agent John J. Connolly Jr., paid $2,000 a month in tribute to New England Mafia underboss Carmen "The Cheese Man" DiNunzio from 2001 to 2003. In exchange, the Mafia protected Gianelli's organization, prosecutors said.

Jurors also heard tapes and testimony indicating that another reputed mobster, Dennis LePore, allegedly started shaking Gianelli down for money after relatives told him they had heard Gianelli's gambling business was booming.

In a Feb. 5, 2004, call recorded by State Police and played at the trial, Gianelli accused Daniele Mazzei, then his girlfriend, of putting him in jeopardy with the Mafia by talking about his business to LePore's nephew. "Just don't tell anybody these [expletive] things, because it ends up a [expletive] problem," Gianelli said. "These [expletive] people are jealous against everybody, and and they're lookin' to rob everybody, all right? And they ain't gonna rob me."

In a telephone call with LePore the next day, Gianelli agreed to pay him $15,000.

Jurors found Gianelli ran an organization involved in sports betting, video poker machines, and later online gambling. They also convicted Gianelli of attempted extortion for trying to seize control of Clarke's Turn of the Century Saloon in Faneuil Hall and McCarthy's Bar and Grill on Boylston Street in Boston, between 1998 and 2002.

Gianelli's lawyer, Robert Sheketoff, who had argued that the government's witnesses were not credible, urged jurors not to be swayed by the sheer size of the 333-count indictment. He declined to comment after yesterday's verdict.

Gianelli's wife, Mary Ann, who pleaded guilty last month to money-laundering, racketeering, and other charges and is awaiting sentencing, is the sister of Connolly's wife, Elizabeth. The Gianellis and Connollys lived next door to each other in Lynnfield. Connolly was convicted of federal racketeering in Boston in 2002 and sentenced to 10 years.

Last November, Connolly was convicted of murder in Florida for helping longtime informants James "Whitey" Bulger and Stephen "The Rifleman" Flemmi orchestrate the 1982 slaying of a businessman.

Yesterday, Gianelli, who had been in custody while awaiting trial, showed little emotion as the verdict was read, and he said nothing afterward.

Iacaboni, who was convicted of eight of nine charges against him, said, "This is a shock," after the verdict was read.

Gianelli, Iacaboni, and Dennis Albertelli were all convicted of arson in plotting to burn down the Big Dog Sports Grille in North Reading in a bid to force its owners to sell Gianelli and Albertelli another bar in Lynnfield. The arson conviction carries a minimum mandatory 15-year prison term.

Gisele Albertelli's lawyer, Page Kelley, said, "I'm disappointed that they returned so many 'guilties,' because there were a lot of counts on which the evidence was dubious. The problem with an indictment like this that alleges so many crimes is that it's hard to overcome the presumption of guilt."

Dennis Albertelli's lawyer, Edward Pasquina Jr., referring to prosecution witnesses who were granted immunity in exchange for their cooperation, said, "Certainly the government marched in a parade of horribles, and they [jurors] took their word for it."

US District Judge Nathaniel M. Gorton set sentencing for July 17 for Gianelli; July 23 for Dennis Albertelli, the following day for Iacaboni, and July 29 for Gisele Albertelli.

The case, investigated by the Massachusetts State Police Special Service Section, began with a wiretap and quickly mushroomed.

Thanks to Shelley Murphy

Monday, March 09, 2009

Arthur Gianelli, Reputed Mafia Associate, Led Sprawling Criminal Enterprise According to the Feds

Reputed Mafia associate Arthur Gianelli of Lynnfield headed a sprawling criminal enterprise whose members were involved in gambling, money laundering, loan sharking, arson, and extortion, a federal prosecutor said this morning.

Gianelli, 51, and his three co-defendants "committed hundreds of crimes between 1999 and 2005," Assistant US Attorney Fred Wyshak Jr. said during opening statements at their racketeering trial in federal court.

Millions of dollars flowed through the organization's gambling operation, which took bets on football games and later shifted its operation from Massachusetts to an Internet operation in Costa Rica. The organization also created phony companies to hide profits, Wyshak said.

Wyshak said Gianelli had ties to the Mafia, making weekly payments to reputed New England underboss Carmen "Cheese Man" DiNunzio. "It was that association between this organization and organized crime that allowed Gianelli to flex his muscle, that allowed Gianelli to make people pay money that didn't want to pay," Wyshak said. "Gianelli is under the umbrella of the Mafia."

But Gianelli's lawyer, Robert Sheketoff, told jurors that, based on the government's theory of the case, Gianelli would have been a victim of DiNunzio because of the payments he was forced to make. Also on trial are Dennis Albertelli, 56, and his wife, Gisele, 54, of Stow, and Frank Iacoboni, 65, of Leominster.

Gianelli is accused of using threats and intimidation in an unsuccessful bid to force the owners of two Boston bars to sell their businesses to him between 1998 and 2002.

Gianelli, Dennis Albertelli, and Iacoboni are also charged with arson for allegedly plotting to burn down the Big Dog Sports Grille in North Reading in 2003 in an attempt to intimidate the owners into selling them another bar that they were poised to open in Lynnfield.

Defense lawyers told jurors that the most serious charges in the case involve the extortion and arson, and urged them to be skeptical of those allegations and the witnesses who testify about them.

"This is not some extortion that took place in some back room," said Sheketoff, telling jurors that there was a legal dispute between Gianelli and the Big Dog owners after he invested heavily in their financially troubled business.

Calling one of the owners, Mark Colangelo, "a swindler and a thief,'' Sheketoff said "he took my client for $1 million and my client took him to court to get it back. The suggestion that he is a victim in this case is almost laughable.''

Gianelli's wife, Mary Ann, pleaded guilty yesterday to 19 counts of racketeering, money laundering, filing false tax returns, and illegally structuring cash transactions, just as she was about to stand trial with the others.

Thanks to Shelley Murphy

Friday, August 29, 2008

The New England Mafia is Not What It Used to Be

The New England Mafia just is not what it used to be.

In what would be an unusual move for a man of his rank, the family's reputed underboss, Carmen "The Cheese Man" DiNunzio, is accused of personally delivering a $10,000 bribe to a near stranger, a man who turned out to be an undercover FBI agent.

Some of his underlings have supplemented their incomes by shoplifting, and one aging soldier was spotted peddling electric toothbrushes on a street in the North End, State Police said.

The local Mafia, which traditionally denounced drugs, now tolerates addicts in its ranks. And some members of the old guard have turned down promotions or become inactive because they fear going back to prison or have lost faith after seeing Mafiosi around the country break omerta, the code of silence, and turn informant or government witness, police said.

"They don't have the strength and the power they once did because of the line people," said State Police Detective Lieutenant Stephen P. Johnson, who oversees organized crime investigations as head of the Special Service Section. "The crews they have out there is where they are lacking. . . . It's a different generation. They're not as smart about how they involve themselves in supporting the family."

Jeffrey S. Sallet, supervisory special agent in charge of the FBI's Providence office and coordinator of the New England division's organized crime program, agreed, saying that La Cosa Nostra, commonly known as the Mafia, "has less of a talent pool to pull from because of ethnic neighborhoods disappearing."

The New England Mafia does not wield as much power or make as much money as it did in the 1980s, before its ranks were depleted by waves of convictions, law enforcement officials said. There are about 30 made members of the Mafia in Greater Boston, compared with at least double that in the 1980s, Johnson said.

"They are a shell of what the organization was years ago," said Major Steven O'Donnell, deputy superintendent of the Rhode Island State Police.

Still, officials said the local Mafia remains a substantial threat and continues to rake in significant profits from illegal gambling and bookmaking. In Greater Boston, the mob has lost its grip on pornography and prostitution, but has been expanding its video poker business, State Police said.

"Are they making money hand over fist? No," said Johnson. "Do they get as much respect? No. But everybody is surviving."

The family's reputed boss of a dozen years is 81-year-old Luigi "Louie" Manocchio, who works out of Addie's Laundromat on Federal Hill in Providence and lives in an apartment upstairs, according to court affidavits.

Manocchio could not be reached for comment for this report. But in 1999, when he was given probation by a Rhode Island judge after admitting he had given his elderly mother a stolen dishwasher and refrigerator, his lawyer, John Cicilline, said he knew nothing about his client's alleged mob ties and said, "The only time I've ever heard that is in the papers," according to the Associated Press.

An FBI affidavit filed in federal court identifies DiNunzio, 51, of East Boston as the family's underboss, or second in command, since 2004. The 400-pound owner of the Fresh Cheese shop on Endicott Street in the North End is under house arrest awaiting two trials, one in Essex County on state extortion and illegal gambling charges and the other in federal court on the bribery charge.

A federal indictment returned in May alleges that DiNunzio paid $10,000 to an undercover FBI agent posing as a state highway inspector in December 2006, part of a conspiracy to secure a $6 million contract to provide loam for the Big Dig.

"I'm the Cheese Man," DiNunzio told the undercover agent on recordings later played in court, as he promised to make the deal go through. "You ask anybody about me. . . . We straighten out a lot of beefs, a lot of things."

DiNunzio's failure to insulate himself by dispatching an underling has raised speculation about a dumbing down in the mob.

"None of them are rocket scientists," said Johnson, noting that many of DiNunzio's predecessors were convicted, partly based on recordings of them saying foolish and incriminating things.

Sallet declined to comment on DiNunzio's motivation, but said: "The mob is all about opportunity. Any chance to make money, they are going to take it."

DiNunzio's lawyer, Anthony Cardinale, described DiNunzio as "a nice, nice guy" who was lured into what he believed was a legitimate deal by a longtime friend who was cooperating with the FBI and introduced him to the agent. "Carmen's downfall is he was a good friend of this guy, and he never suspected this guy would do this to him," Cardinale said.

Despite DiNunzio's legal predicament, law enforcement officials said he has a reputation as a fairly smart, low-key leader. "The leadership isn't stupid," Johnson said. "They don't attract the quality line people."

O'Donnell said the family has suffered from a lack of midlevel managers as some experienced mobsters have refused to take those jobs because they do not want the law enforcement scrutiny or the headaches they bring.

Today, the family is a mix of old soldiers who have recently returned to the streets after years in prison and young members who grew up in middle-class suburban households, law enforcement officials said.

Unlike the old guard, who grew up in poor, ethnic neighborhoods and were groomed by elder mobsters, the new generation tends to be less street-smart and is attracted by the glitz and glamour of shows such as HBO's "The Sopranos," State Police said.

"The guys now want to appear to be Tony Soprano," Johnson said. "They're flashy."

A couple of reputed Boston mobsters were secretly recorded in 2000 complaining that rivals had mimicked the Sopranos crew by leaving dead fish in doorways and on cars in an effort to intimidate them.

The reality is, "it's not a glamorous lifestyle," Sallet said. "You spend your life wondering about whether your friend wants to kill you or hurt you or whether some law enforcement officer wants to put you in jail."

And, he added, for every mobster who is making big money, there are others who are broke. "They call them brokesters," Sallet said. "A lot of them have gambling problems and are low-end scam guys."

But law enforcement officials cautioned that the Mafia is still dangerous, especially because so many of the region's most feared mobsters have recently been freed from prison.

"It has a very big potential to change drastically in New England over the next several years, or it can stay the same course," O'Donnell said.

Thanks to Shelley Murphy

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Mob Still Thrives in New England Despite Lower Membership

Friends of ours: Carmen "The Big Chese" DiNunzio, Luigi "Baby Shanks" Manocchio, Francis "Cadillac Frank" Salemme, Peter J. Limone, Robert J. DeLuca

Forget about HBO's Tony Soprano. Today's mob leaders, at least in New England, are low-profile wiseguys with unglamorous jobs, and in Boston, membership is dwindling, according to the State Police.

The number of so-called made men who have taken a formal oath and pledged their souls to the Mafia is only about half of what it was in the Boston area in the early 1980s, according to Detective Lieutenant Stephen P. Johnson of the State Police.

The Boston faction has about 20 to 25 active soldiers who report to several capos, while another 10 inactive members are behind bars, said Johnson, who oversees organized crime investigations as head of the Special Service Section.

While waning membership reflects a mob weakened by several decades of federal prosecutions, the New England Mafia continues to thrive and uses a substantial number of associates to make money, officials said. "It is the only traditional organized crime group left in town, with the exception of Asian gangs who primarily stay within their neighborhoods," Johnson said. "What they've tried to do is keep a low profile while maintaining their traditional activities, which would include extortion, drug trafficking, bookmaking, loansharking, and even pornography."

State Police in Massachusetts and Rhode Island said illegal gambling, and sports-betting in particular, remain the life blood of the organization.

Alleged underboss Carmen "The Big Cheese" DiNunzio, 49, owner of Fresh Cheese shop in Boston's North End, drew little public attention until his arrest by State Police last week on charges of extortion and running an illegal sports-betting operation. He makes fabulous sandwiches, law enforcement officials said, but he captured their attention because he allegedly oversees all of the mob's activities in the Boston area.

His lawyer, Anthony Cardinale, said they have it wrong. "They are trying to create something that really isn't there," said Cardinale, who insisted that DiNunzio is no underboss, describing him as "a low-key, well-liked neighborhood guy who happens to be Italian." Though DiNunzio occasionally helps his sister by cooking at her East Boston restaurant, Carmen's Kitchen, he has no ownership interest in the business, Cardinale said.

The New England Mafia operates in Rhode Island and Eastern Massachusetts up to Worcester, while the western part of the state is allegedly controlled by New York families.

Leadership of the New England organization has shifted between Boston and Providence since the 1930s, reverting to Rhode Island in 1995, when the reputed current godfather, Luigi "Baby Shanks" Manocchio, took over. Manocchio, 79, has been described as a low-key boss who has pulled warring factions together after the bloody reign of Francis "Cadillac Frank" Salemme. Manocchio, who law enforcement officials say would rather make money than spend it, works out of Addie's laundromat on Federal Hill in Providence and lives in an apartment upstairs.

Rhode Island State Police have identified the mob's consigliere, who traditionally moderates internal disputes, as 72-year-old Peter J. Limone, who was exonerated of a 1965 gangland murder after spending 33 years in prison and is now suing the government for more than $100 million. His lawyer, Juliane Balliro, denied that Limone was a consigliere and added that with his civil trial underway in federal court in Boston, "we find the timing of these revelations very suspicious." But Major Steven O'Donnell, a longtime organized crime investigator who is in charge of field operations for the Rhode Island State Police , said informants and wiretap information indicate that Limone is consigliere to Manocchio.

O'Donnell also identified Robert J. DeLuca, who was paroled in March after serving 12 years in prison, as a capo in Rhode Island. DeLuca gained notoriety in 1989 after an FBI bug indicated he was among four new soldiers inducted into the Mafia in a blood-oath ceremony in Medford. Since his release from prison, DeLuca has been working at the upscale Sidebar & Grille restaurant in Providence, owned by his lawyer, Artin Coloian, who said DeLuca had a flawless record in prison and "there's no reason for anyone to doubt that his life would go the same way."

The number of mobsters in the Providence area, where there are about a dozen active members, has remained consistent over the years, O'Donnell said. But they generally are no longer raising their children in the old Federal Hill enclave and grooming them to follow in their footsteps, O'Donnell said.

It's the same in Boston, according to Johnson, who said there is no longer a so-called mob headquarters in the North End, though mobsters fraternize there at restaurants and social clubs. "The bad guys live in suburban towns now," said Johnson. As a result, he said, the mob's activities are more spread out, with members casting a wider net when it comes to shaking down bookmakers and drug dealers. "If you're a member and you live in Framingham and are aware of somebody who is a dope dealer in your area and you can extort them, you do." But even with dwindling ranks, it would be misguided for law enforcement to let up pressure on them, Johnson said.

"The key is to not let it grow, to keep pruning away at it, so it doesn't get a chance to take off again," he said.

Thanks to Shelley Murphy

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