The Chicago Syndicate: Peter Limone
Showing posts with label Peter Limone. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Peter Limone. Show all posts

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Berkshires Organized Crime History

Over the past few decades, popular culture depictions in movies and television has helped elevate the idea that gambling rackets and mob crime are the sort of thing that occurs in places like New Jersey, New York, Nevada or Chicago.

The truth is, New England has seen plenty of it over the years, and some of it quite a bit closer to home than the locales in Scorcese's "The Departed." Over the course of the past century, central Berkshire County has several times been the site of organized crime activity, from petty book-making to major scandals involving local officials and prominent mafia affiliates.

As a center of population, commerce and government in the county, the city of Pittsfield has perhaps naturally also often been the epicenter of much of its major criminal conspiracies. Repeatedly, investigation of such wrongdoing has also been characterized by allegations of corruption among the city's police department, politicians and other influential citizens.

As early as the 1930s, such corruption had already been intimated, when then City Councilor Daniel Casey first sought to launch a probe of the local police department. In April of 1936, Councilor Casey introduced a motion stating that "an investigation is necessary to determine what manner various forms of illegal gambling flourish throughout the city without interference or suppression by the police department," petitioning the council to launch a probe of the department.

At the time, Casey's motion was defeated in a tie vote, though it was not the last time the budding politician would raise the issue.

"Something is rotten in Denmark," reiterated Casey 11 years later, as state representative, again in reference to the belief that corruption in the department had stymied efforts to crack down on a growing gambling trade in the city.

His comment came after the February 1947 acquittal of Daniel Caligian on the first charge of attempted bribery in the history of the Police Department.

Caligian, a counterman for North Street's Majestic Restaurant, allegedly tried to pay Sgt. Raymond Coakley $500 to look the other way on his "bookie" activities, for which he had two previous convictions already.

According to Casey, Coakley "probably didn't report the first alleged bribery offer to some superior officers at headquarters because he was afraid of a leak in the department."

The Berkshire Eagle also voiced concerns over the not-guilty verdict, suggesting that local law enforcement had become "politics-ridden" and "susceptible to corruption, and that the case amounted to "a sad commentary on respect for law and order, and a severe indictment of the Pittsfield Police Department."

Not long after, Caligian went into the pinball machine business with Peter G. Arlos, a controversial figure who would later become the city's longest reigning city councilor. Together, they ran Automatic Vendors Inc. until 1950, when Arlos severed ties to begin his own pinball machine distribution business, Pace Merchandising Co. When their respective licenses to sell the machines expired at the end of 1951, their re-application to the Licensing Board launched the dramatic "Pinball Hearings," which dragged on before the board for the first several months of 1952.

Pinball machines had been a matter of local controversy for a number of years at that time and the licensing authority had been a matter of some legal gray area. In North Adams, all pinball machines had been removed, along with slot machines, in 1937, but by early 1938 the popular entertainment devices were already creeping back into circulation there.

In March 1946, the Supreme Judicial Court had ruled that only pinball machines that did not have a cash pay-off of any kind attached were legal in the commonwealth, and in October of that year, Pittsfield's Chief John Sullivan issued an order to local establishments for the removal of such gaming apparatus, even five taverns that had been issued permits by the city's Licensing Board just three months earlier.

Subsequent legislation from Boston in 1949 further clarified the legality of non-gambling pinball machines, though local authorities were still very much of the opinion that the industry surrounding their use was being used as some kind of front for other forms of illegal gambling, probably because of the reputation of their primary distributor as a known bookie.

The administration of the time at City Hall was adamant about the need to crack down on such infraction fand, at the start of 1952, the local Licensing Board enacted a far-reaching policy that no permit to supply the machines would be granted unless the applicant was willing to submit all records of their business, and submit to any questioning the board saw fit.

A provision that any attempt by the applicant to invoke the constitutional 5th Amendment to such questioning would be grounds for denial gave these hearings a much broader leeway to conduct fishing expeditions than any court of law could have. It was thought that the implementation of such strict procedure would automatically drive Caligian out of the business. "But Mr. Caligian along with his former associate in AVI, Peter Arlos, astonished the trappers by swallowing the bait and applying for the licenses," wrote Roger Linscott in The Berkshire Eagle.

A series of proceedings commenced, with City Solicitor Francis Quirico summoning records from telephones and business transactions, and conducting probing questioning of a multitude of witnesses. Many stone-walled the attorney under examination, as unlike the applicants themselves, they were under no obligation to waive their right to silence.  Several of these witnesses would eventually be arrested on various charges by the anti-gambling vice squad formed by Mayor Robert Capeless later that year.

The Pinball Hearings, which played to packed audiences in City Hall chambers, lasted from February to early May. Sparks flew as Quirico repeatedly contended that the operations of the two applicants were being used as fronts for horse-betting and lottery schemes, while in response accusations of witch-hunting were lobbed by Thomas Noonan, a high profile Albany lawyer who'd won Caligian's case in '46 and joined these proceedings as additional counsel to local attorney Anthony Ruberto in March.

Considerable testimony from police officers and other witnesses alleged instances of book-making and other "questionable enterprises" had been occurring at places rented by Caligian and Arlos, and the board ultimately denied their permits.

Over the rest of the decade, local authorities continued efforts to rein in feared "organized gambling" in the county, with periodic raids on local businesses and private homes, such as one in Dalton in 1951 at which 31 high-stakes card players from around the Berkshires were arrested.

As the 1960s dawned, however, a new venture would introduce the involvement of major mafia figures to the Berkshires on a level never seen before.

In 1960, the Berkshire Downs racetrack was opened in Hancock by B.A. Dario of Rhode Island, who was also proprietor of the Lincoln Downs racetrack just north of Providence. Licensed pari-mutuel betting on horse races had been legal in the commonwealth since the 1930s, and at the time, state government permitted 90 days worth of racing in Massachusetts. The bulk of those days went to Suffolk Downs, but Berkshire Downs ran a 24-day cycle during its short period of operation as a track.

For most of its time in business, Berkshire Downs lost money as a venue, at least on paper, but it held a certain appeal for both locals and visitors and was often well attended. It also attracted the interest of some high-profile individuals, and a general reputation of being "mobbed up."

Within its first couple of seasons, the track had become the subject of investigation by state gaming authorities, who suspected that it was largely controlled by mafia don Raymond Patriarca Sr., boss of the New England "family" operating out of Providence and Boston. Later, FBI wiretapping helped substantiate Patriarca's involvement, and a 1973 congressional committee report ultimately concluded he was a key investor in the Berkshire venture.

Singer Frank Sinatra was another major investor, though he would later testify before the House committee that he had no idea the reputed mafia don was involved, and had withdrawn his $55,000 investment in the venue after finding he had been named vice president of the business without his knowledge.

The involvement of the New England mafia in Berkshire Downs may have helped, in part, to explain a perceived rise in apparent organized crime in nearby Pittsfield which would last throughout the 1960s.

Illegal activity was on the rise, ranging from the proliferation of bookies to the suspicious deaths of two Berkshire County men within a six-month period in 1962. Harold Boland, of Pittsfield, was found in a canal off Onota Lake in May, having had his wrists tied to a heavy stone. Joseph Klein, a West Stockbridge native who worked in Pittsfield, was found beaten to death outside his car by an assailant who had apparently struck after waiting for him to exit a bar in Canaan, N.Y. While the cases remained unsolved, suspicions ran high that the two men may have gotten in over their head in gambling and run awry of mob enforcers.

Local police were also under the lens again for possible corruption, with a state police probe initiated after three patrolmen were convicted in the robbery of a local hardware store, and allegations that other officers may have also been involved in illegal activities, including tips that had arisen from investigation of activity at the nearby race track.

The state police probe began in March 1963, and grew more intense as local media got wind of some of vague but sensational rumors stemming from the investigation. On April 3, the North Adams Transcript wrote that connections between the recent deaths and "a possible tieup between some city police officials and the criminal underworld stunned the city of Pittsfield today with the announcement that the alleged connections between gangsters, gamblers and city officials was under investigation by the Massachusetts State Police."

According to Commissioner Frank Giles, state police investigators had received information that more than one ranking officer had been taking bribes from bookies, and that a "high ranking police official" had been the liaison between the department and a "gaming rackets czar." After several months of surveying the department during which lurid headlines were rampant in newspapers from Pittsfield to Boston, the probe concluded that many of the tips had proven false, while others could not be substantiated.

In November, Giles admitted that there was no "positive information of wrongdoing by Pittsfield police." Later that month, the City Council approved a higher-than-requested raise for all department personnel.

Implied associations between law-enforcement officials and perceived underworld activity — particularly at the questionable racetrack — continued to trouble area residents, though, and the sense that corruption was still a problem would not soon dissipate. Even in 1976, when Berkshire Downs was all but dismantled, an editorial in The Eagle voiced concerns about this underlying perception.

"There is nothing illegal about Judge John A. Barry's serving as director and spokesman for a third-rate agricultural fair that serves as an excuse for a fourth-rate racing operation in Hancock. The same can be said in defense of Carmen C. Massimiano, the chief probation officer of the Berkshire Superior Court, who is evidently moonlighting at Berkshire Downs, too," wrote the Eagle's editor. "But there is a very serious question as to the good judgement of law-enforcement officials who allow themselves to be identified with any race track - and particularly a track so economically marginal that jockeys have to be saintly to stay honest."

While no indictments came out of the 1963 probe, not every cop on the force at the time turned out to be squeaky clean; in early 1968, a 17-year veteran of the force was charged as one of seven conspirators in a local stolen car ring connected to a major underboss in the Patriarca mafia.

Car thefts had been rampant throughout Berkshire County in the late '60s, and by 1967 authorities began to suspect a coordinated effort was involved in some of these. After months of investigation by state police and the FBI, they zeroed in on Edmund Crown, an automobile salesman from Lanesborough, arresting him on Dec. 21 in connection with the transport and sale of at least 31 stolen cars. Four more Berkshire residents were soon arrested in the stolen car conspiracy, including Pittsfield patrolmen Anthony Crea, and three eastern Massachusetts suspects, including Vincent Teresa of North Reading.

All but the latter were tried, convicted, and already paroled from jail less than two years later; though Crown had been charged with as many as 62 counts for which the maximum sentence could have been up to 20 years. Two and a half years was the maximum that inmates could be sentenced to the local House of Correction, which prosecutor William R. Flynn urged for Crown's safety "because of the people he has been involved with."

The sort of people he referred to were no doubt associates of Vincent "Fat Vinnie," Teresa, believed the be the ringleader of the car ring, who was also by his own admission the No. 3 man in the New England mafia.

Teresa's own trial in Pittsfield did not begin until July 1969, and ultimately resulted in a mistrial after it was realized that one of the jurors was a relative of the prosecutor. A new trial was planned for February 1970, by which time Teresa was already serving a brief sentence on an unrelated offence in Maryland.

Something changed in Teresa's perspective during this time, a change that was part of an emerging shift in the internal culture of the mob that would ultimately grow to become a serious Achilles' heel to its entire internal structure.

In earlier years, when a "made" man went to jail, he was well looked after by his associates.  His legal fees were paid, his family well looked after, and in the case of major players, his territory and financial interests were protected by colleagues on the outside. At the time of Teresa's incarceration, both Patriarca and underboss Henry Tameleo, who controlled the Boston branch of the New England family, were already serving time. With the organization in the hands of younger, less respectful mobsters, Teresa found his family neglected, his secretary the victim of an attempted murder, and millions of dollars he'd gathered in various scams taken.

This and the probable consequences of his impending retrial in Pittsfield was enough to make him turn state's evidence, one of the first accredited mafia members who opted to "rat," in what would soon become an epidemic for crime families around the country. A $500,000 price was placed on his head, and while his sentence was commuted in 1971, he and his wife and children spent the next few years under witness protection. Later, he published three books based on his days in the mafia.

While at the time, Lucchese family soldier Joe Valachi was the most prominent Cosa Nostra informant in the public mind, Teresa's decision to "sing" for the Feds was far more significant. From his position as one of Patriarca's key lieutenants, he provided information that devastated the Patriarca family and did damage to other mafia families as well. His testimony led to the indictment of at least 50 mob figures, and valuable leads in the pursuit of hundreds of others.

While Teresa's turn on his compatriots dealt a disastrous blow to the mafia in the Northeast, it was not the last time that mob influence would be felt locally, nor was it the last time Pittsfield officials would become implicated in illegal gambling activity.

In the mid-1980s, organized crime was still reaping major profits from gambling activity in Berkshire County, primarily in the form of sports betting. A multiple-year investigation coordinated by District Attorney Anthony Ruberto, in which the local DA's office utilized wiretaps for the first time, led to a number of indictments but narrowly missed netting "major sports betting figures in Massachusetts."

It did result in the 1983 arrest of Pittsfield Police officer William Zoitos and his wife, who authorities alleged had allowed their home and phones to be used for registering bets. The following year, Ruberto's office led a 13-home raid in which suspects were arrested across Western Massachusetts and into Connecticut.

Ruberto told The Eagle that the proceeds from these rackets "ultimately ends up in the coffers of organized crime, which uses that money to infiltrate other areas of society."

These profits fueled the booming narcotics trade, which by then was firmly established as the mafia's most lucrative enterprise, and left ample funds for exerting influence over law enforcement and political figures.

"If anybody in this town doesn't know that organized crime is here, then shame on them," Pittsfield Police Sgt. Richard Henault, head of the department's special investigations unit, told The Eagle.

Police Chief Stanley Stankiewicz concurred, adding that "mob related beatings" were not uncommon in the city.

According to newspaper reporting at the time, a bookie could be found as easily as hanging around any one of a number of local bars, and these individuals almost always paid a cut on to the larger latticework of the New England mafia.

In early 1986, one such bar in particular was the site of a police sting that sent major ripples through the community. On Jan. 11, the three-member SIU conducted a raid on the Beer Garden on Wahconah Street, during which then City Council President Angelo C. Stracuzzi was arrested along with several other members of his family on charges of allowing gambling on the premises.

Stracuzzi and fellow councilors denounced the raid as an act of political retribution for his push to disband the special unit and establish an independent committee to review the department's operation. The city councilor was ultimately acquitted of charges during a jury trial after testifying that he had sold his interest in the bar to his father and brother weeks prior to the raid. Three other family members plead guilty, with father Angelo R. and sister Donna Stracuzzi Smith paying fines, while brother Anthony Stracuzzi served a sentence of 10 days in the local jail.

The controversy following the raid made headlines in the New York Times, with allegations of racism, falsified pay records, and on duty drunkeness by its chief leveled at the Pittsfield Police Department. Chief Stankiewicz was hospitalized for chest pains during the ensuing scandal, ultimately resigning and moving to Florida later that year.

The SIU was immediately disbanded, and an ordinance establishing the Police Advisory Committee was passed by the council just days after the Beer Garden raid. According to the ordinance, the committee's role is "to advise the Mayor and the City Council on non-operational and non-investigatory matters relative to the Police Department in the City, and in advising with regard to rules and regulations in conformity with law."

By the late 1980s, the role of organized crime in Berkshire County was diminishing, as the New England mafia family has continued to decline following the 1984 death of Raymond Patriarca Sr., its most successful boss. Today, its membership of full-fledged "made" men has dwindled to less than a third of what it was during its peak, and those members that now remain are largely elderly, and increasingly being snapped up for prosecution. Patriarca family boss Peter Limone was placed on five years probation with an ankle bracelet in 2011, followed by the arrest of his successor Anthony DiNunzio the following year.  Antonio Spagnolo, the next acting boss in line, is currently awaiting trial following his arraignment this past fall, along with another longtime member, on extortion charges.

Occasional incidents of local gambling activity and alleged organized crime have occurred sporadically in recent years, such as the 1998 prosecution of Dalton resident Shaun Delmolino, and the 2003 money-laundering conviction of Giovanna Trotti, a Pittsfield man with purported ties to Springfield mob auspices. More recently, the owner of the former Hermann Alexander's bar was sentenced to probation for illegal gambling machines and conspiracy to distribute cocaine, following an April 2012 raid that also led to the arrest of eight other individuals.

Overall, though, the age of gambling rackets and traditional "mob" crime has all but died off in the Berkshires over the past quarter century. Today, concerns about mafia infiltration have been replaced by a new, arguably more troubling kind of "organized crime," in the form of youth street gangs. Affiliation with these, say many officials as well as local educators, has seen a dramatic rise of late, ushering in a new kind of danger which community leaders have only just begun to confront.

Thanks to Joe Durwin.

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

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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