The Chicago Syndicate: Raymond Patriarca
Showing posts with label Raymond Patriarca. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Raymond Patriarca. 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, October 11, 2009

Genovese Crime Boss & WWII Hero, Carlo Mastrototaro, Dies at 89

The man frequently identified as a kingpin of organized crime in the Worcester area for much of the latter half of the past century and a highly decorated World War II combat veteran died Monday at his home in Worcester.

Carlo Mastrototaro, 89, of 40 Hancock Hill Drive, died peacefully surrounded by family members, according to his obituary.

In an interview earlier this year, Mr. Mastrototaro would only describe himself as a “retired businessman,” determinedly steering clear of specifying what he did before retiring.

“Different things” was all he would say. Reminded that law enforcement officials and other sources had labeled him a powerful figure in the New England mob, he responded, “Not everything said about me is true.”

A Worcester native, Mr. Mastrototaro, for the most part, stayed out of local headlines. He owned several restaurants in the area over the years and occasional stories referred to arrests and convictions for, among other things, racketeering, wire fraud and gambling.

Thomas J. Foley, former superintendent of the Massachusetts state police, said that Mr. Mastrototaro answered in the 1980s and 1990s to the Genovese crime family in New York with the tacit approval of Raymond L.S. Patriarca of Providence, regarded as the head of the New England Mafia until his death in 1984.

One of his convictions was in 1971 in Baltimore federal court after he was tried for aiding and abetting in the transportation of three stolen U.S. Treasury bills. The man who stole the treasury bills, Boston and Providence mob figure Vincent “Big Vinnie” Teresa, testified against Mr. Mastrototaro in exchange for a reduced sentence.

Two years later, Mr. Teresa wrote a tell-all book called “My Life in the Mafia,” in which he described Mr. Mastrototaro as “the boss of Worcester” and “the fourth most powerful boss in the current New England hierarchy of crime.”

There are numerous references in the book to Mr. Mastrototaro, some linking him to Mafia-backed casinos that operated in Haiti and pre-Communist Cuba, as well as to Meyer Lansky, a notorious figure in mob annals who was regarded as a financial genius.

Despite his testimony that helped convict Mr. Mastrototaro, Mr. Teresa, who died in 1990 while in the federal witness protection program, had an obvious admiration for the Worcester resident. “He was as honest as they come in the mob when you dealt with him,” Mr. Teresa wrote. “If you had a cent and half coming from him, it didn't make a bit of difference if you didn't show up to collect for six months. When you got there, the money was there waiting for you.”

Far less well-known about Mr. Mastrototaro was his distinguished record as a Marine serving in the Pacific during WWII. That service earned him a Purple Heart and the Silver Star, the military's third highest award for valor in the face of the enemy.

In his later years, Mr. Mastrototaro spent time at the Leatherneck Lounge on Lake Avenue and on rare occasions, friends say, he would open up about his military service from 1939 to 1944.

The Silver Star, he confided, stemmed from fighting in the Mariana Islands in the fierce Battle of Saipan in June and July 1944. On watch late one night while others in his platoon were asleep in foxholes, he detected shadows from behind, yelled a warning to fellow Marines, then jumped up and opened fire. He killed eight or nine Japanese on the perimeter of the platoon's camp.

Mr. Mastrototaro and several others in his company were badly wounded by mortar fire a few weeks later in the Battle of Tinian, also in the Marianas. He was evacuated to a hospital ship and later sent home with a medical discharge. His wounds, he told friends, actually saved his life. Much of his company was wiped out when they moved on to the Battle of Iwo Jima.

Mr. Mastrototaro helped found the Marine Corps League chapter in Worcester and was a member of several veterans' organizations.

Thanks to Jay Whearley

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Gennaro "Jerry" Angiulo Underboss in New England Has Died

Gennaro "Jerry" Angiulo, the former underboss of the New England Mafia who ruled the Boston rackets from the 1960s until his headline-generating arrest and conviction in the 1980s, died today. He was 90.

Angiulo and his three brothers, Donato, Francesco, and Michele were all convicted in February 1986 in the region's first sweeping federal racketeering case against the mob. He was sentenced to 45 years in prison in the case.

The son of Italian immigrants who ran a North End grocery store, Gennaro Angiulo rose through the Mafia ranks under Raymond L.S. Patriarca of Providence because of his keen skill at making money. The Angiulo brothers were disciplined hands-on operators, who had a virtual monopoly on the region's illegal gambling and loansharking, according to law enforcement officials. But the Angiulo empire was toppled when the FBI planted bugs in their Prince Street headquarters and at a social club on North Margin Street for three months in 1981, as Angiulo ordered murders and beatings and boasted of his misdeeds.

When he was hauled by FBI agents out of Francesco's Restaurant in the North End in 1983, he yelled, "I'll be back before my pork chops get cold."

But he was wrong. He wasn't released on parole until 2007. In recent years, he has been living quietly at his home in Nahant.

Thanks to Shelley Murphy

Monday, December 29, 2008

Old Mobster, Nicholas Pari, Reveals Secret Burial Ground, Days Before He Enters His Own Grave

They came for the gravely ill racketeer last month, appearing at his North Providence home around dawn. His time was near, but not as near as the police officers at his door. He went peacefully.

Soon he was at state police headquarters, where veteran detectives knew him well: Nicholas Pari, once the smart-dressing mobster whose nickname, “Nicky,” had clearly not taxed the Mafia muse. Now 71, with gauze wrapped around his cancer-ruined neck: Nicky Pari.

The arrest, for running a crime ring from a flea market, put him in a reflective mood, and he said some things he clearly needed to say, including that he was dying. Still, ever-faithful to that perverse code of the streets, he seemed insulted when asked about the deeds of others.

“He wouldn’t cooperate beyond talking about himself and his past actions,” says Col. Brendan Doherty, the state police superintendent, who knew Mr. Pari from long years spent investigating Rhode Island crime, back when it was more organized.

The gaunt man did not weep, though his voice softened as he spoke with regret about a life that had fallen far short of its promised glamour and riches, a life heavy with guilt over one particular act. And in confessing this one act, Nicky Pari gave up a ghost.

“He was making an attempt at an act of contrition,” says Lt. Col. Steven O’Donnell, who also knew Mr. Pari from way back when and had listened to his old adversary’s words of regret.

That same day, detectives took the mobster for a 19-mile ride, following his directions as he zeroed in on the past. To East Providence. To the Lisboa Apartments. To a grassy backyard bordered by a listing stockade fence.

What he indicated next, whether through words or gestures or even a nod, was this: Here. Deep beneath this blanket of dormant grass, you will find him — here. Soon the claws of backhoes were disturbing the earth.

Thirty years ago, organized crime in Rhode Island was still like a rogue public utility. Raymond L. S. Patriarca, the old man with bullet tips for eyes, still ran the New England rackets from a squat building on Federal Hill. And men, from the merely dishonest to the profoundly psychopathic, still followed his rules.

Among them was Nicky Pari, who supposedly declined the honor to join the Mafia because he preferred the freelance life. If not made, he was known, in part because he had done time for helping a Patriarca lieutenant hijack a truck with a $50,000 load of dresses.

In April 1978, he and another freelancer, Andrew Merola, decided to address the delicate matter of a police informant within their ranks, a droopy-eyed young man from Hartford named Joseph Scanlon. The theories behind his nickname, “Joe Onions,” are that he made the girls cry or, more prosaically, that his surname sounded like scallion.

One morning Mr. Pari lured Mr. Scanlon and his girlfriend, who was holding their infant daughter, into Mr. Merola’s social club, in a Federal Hill building now long gone. Mr. Pari struck Mr. Scanlon in the face. Then Mr. Merola fired a bullet that shot through the man’s head and caught the tip of one of Mr. Pari’s fingers.

The girlfriend was ordered to leave the room. When she came back, her child’s father was wrapped in plastic near the door, his jewelry gone, his boots placed beside his body. A package, awaiting delivery.

The girlfriend, once described as a “stand-up girl” who wouldn’t talk, did, and the two men were convicted of murder in a case lacking a central piece of evidence: the body. They successfully appealed their convictions, but in 1982 they pleaded no contest to reduced charges in a deal that required them to say where the body was. Dumped in Narragansett Bay, they said.

Few believed this story, perhaps because it lacked the panache desired of a Rhode Island-style rubout. For years afterward, people would call the police and The Providence Journal with tips like: Joe Onions is in the trunk of a scrapped Cadillac. Check it out.

Perhaps, too, there was the inexplicable charm of Mafia sobriquets. In a state whose mobster roll call includes nicknames like “The Blind Pig” and “The Moron,” one wonders whether Joe Onions would be remembered had he been known, simply, as Joe Scanlon.

The years passed. The paroled Mr. Merola opened a Federal Hill restaurant called Andino’s, while the paroled Mr. Pari gravitated toward flea markets. They were often seen together, sitting in a lounge in Smithfield, or attending a testimonial for a mob associate in Providence, that damaged finger of Mr. Pari’s, holding a glass or maybe a cigarette, always there.

Mr. Merola died of cancer last year, leaving Mr. Pari to bear their secret alone. He went on as a father, a grandfather and, apparently, the man to see in a grimy flea market in a stretch of Providence where auto-body shops reign.

Last month the police arrested Mr. Pari and a motley mix of others for crimes of the flea market that put the lie to The Life, including the supposed trading of guns and drugs for more fungible items like counterfeit handbags and sneakers. Still, he remained bound to Mr. Merola; in arranging to sell illegal prescription drugs for a measly $320, for example, he chose to meet an undercover officer at his departed friend’s restaurant.

At state police headquarters, before that ride to East Providence, Mr. Pari expressed remorse for helping to kill Joe Onions, remorse that he admitted had deepened as he faced his own mortality. Seeing the anguish his own family was going through, he knew he could ease another family’s 30-year pain by sharing one detail that only he knew.

Don’t misunderstand, Lieutenant Colonel O’Donnell says. Mr. Pari could have shared this detail days before his arrest, months before, decades before — but he lied instead, for reasons known only to him. “It doesn’t make him a good guy,” the police official says. “But he’s a human being.”

Hours after leading the police to the place that had haunted him since 1978, Mr. Pari appeared in District Court in Providence, unshaven, diminished, in a wheelchair. Released on bail, he returned home to his hospice bed and oxygen tank.

Meanwhile, back in East Providence, backhoes mined the sandy past. They dug until dark that Monday afternoon, then returned to dig all day Tuesday, as detectives and spectators shivered and watched, as the November sun offered little warmth, as the smell of fried food wafted from a Chinese restaurant a few yards away.

Finally, late on that Wednesday, the scoop of a backhoe pulled up things of interest from more than a dozen feet below, including a boot that seemed to match a description. The mechanical dig stopped and a human dig began, with investigators using a sifting pan to separate bone from earth.

It isn’t as though you can dig anywhere in Rhode Island and find a body. But Colonel Doherty, the state police superintendent, says he will not confirm this was Joseph Scanlon until a match is made with some DNA provided by one of Mr. Scanlon’s siblings. He adds that even though 30 years have passed, among the Scanlons “there was always a hope that he was not dead.”

On a cold night late last week, an old mobster died at his home in North Providence, freed of one secret he would not have to take to the grave.

Thanks to Dan Barry

Monday, November 24, 2008

"Made" Mob Members Dwindle in Ranks

The ranks of the traditional "La Cosa Nostra" have been dwindling here in Rhode Island over the years. So much so, the face of the modern mob bust, like we saw last week, is a diverse cross-section of society.

The "Operation Mobbed Up" sweep netted two dozen people and crushed an alleged criminal syndicate run out of the Valley Street Flea Market. Among those arrested were several with ties to the Patriarca Crime Family.

In organized crime's heyday in Rhode Island, when Raymond L.S. Patriarca ran the show, investigators kept tabs on at least 22 "made" members of the New England crime family.

Rhode Island State Police Col. Brendan Doherty, a veteran mob investigator, tells Target 12 that right now, "There are about eight or nine people we allege are inducted members." Of those, some are what he calls "retired."

In fact, in the "Mobbed Up" bust from November 17, not a single defendant is a member of the Patriarca crime family. State Police say several -- including infamous mob muscleman, Gerald Tillinghast, and aging, wheelchair-bound Nicholas "Nicky" Pari -- are mob associates.

"The fact that a large group of associates was arrested and a made member was not arrested is not a reflection on the New England LCN," says Jeffrey Sallet, a supervisory special agent with the FBI's Organized Crime Unit in New England. He told Target 12 the LCN -- La Cosa Nostra, "our thing" -- has not "made" a lot of people, and many are mere associates.

The boss of a crime family approves letting in new members. Law enforcement sources tell Target 12 the head of the New England crime family is 80-year-old Luigi "Babyshanks" Manocchio. Sources say Manocchio keeps his inner circle small. Those men who've been identified by law enforcement sources as capo regime under Manocchio include:

* Robert "Bobby" Deluca, whom sources say is keeping a low profile after serving ten years on gambling charges. His parole is set to expire in 2009.
* Edward Lato, who recently escaped gambling charges after a State Police sting in 2006. Lato was released from federal prison earlier this year after a probation violation.
* Joseph Achille, who two years ago served a year at the ACI on a conspiracy charge.

Two longtime reputed mobsters are currently in prison: Capo regime Matthew "Matty" Gugliemetti -- serving time at Ft. Dix for drug violations -- and the infamous 67-year-old mobster, Anthony "The Saint" St. Laurent. He is serving five years for an attempted shakedown of two men over gambling debts.

So far the inner circle has come up clean in this latest round of organized crime-related busts. Col. Doherty says it may just be a new face to old crimes: "It's not quite as organized anymore. We have a lot of renegade factions out there."

Sallet tells Target 12 New England has the distinction of having the only crime family in the country with an active boss still on the street and not behind bars.

Thanks to Target 12

Thursday, February 07, 2008

Does the Mob Partner with Motorcycle Gangs?

The Target 12 Investigators take you inside the mafia, revealing a partnership you might not expect, the mob and outlaw motorcycle gangs.

The Target 12 Investigators uncover secrets from decades ago. Documents shedding light on an historic partnership between the mob and outlaw motorcycle gangs. But does that relationship still thrive?

At first glance, any relationship between the rough exterior of an outlaw motorcycle gang member and the image of a dapper Italian mobster may appear strange. But it's a loose partnership that has survived for decades.

Motorcycle gangs and La Cosa Nostra; strange bedfellows in the world of organized crime.

Supervisory Special Agent Sallet: "It's a cooperative relationship..."

Here in Rhode Island, the partnership was forged, decades ago.

Major Steven O'Donnell, Rhode Island State Police: "Raymond Patriarca Senior pushed them aside, but had his thugs around him kind of embrace them, where they would pay tribute."

Known simply as "The Man," Raymond Patriarca Senior ran the powerful New England crime family, and nothing happened without his 'OK'.

Major Steven O'Donnell of the Rhode Island State Police says Patriarca looked the other way when bikers committed crimes-of-profit, including moving and manufacturing drugs. The Target 12 Investigators obtained a classified DEA report from that era. In it the feds, in 1979, called it a "marriage of convenience... It allows the [motorcycle gang] To continue its activities without interference from organized crime and in return pays a percentage [to the mob.]"

Supervisory Special Agent Jeffrey Sallet of the FBI Providence, says wiseguys view outlaw biker gangs as valuable in a very specific area.

Supervisory Special Agent Sallet: "Create fear. And I think that's something outlaw motorcycle groups specialize in, is creating fear."

Outlaw bikers were an effective tool in making someone, pay-up. But does that relationship exist today?

Major O'Donnell: "Yes, without question."

Investigators say wiseguys still turn to outlaw bikers as a tool for intimidation. O'Donnell cites a recent case when an associate of the Patriarca crime family, David Achille, was caught on a police wiretap. He was discussing the use of a Hell's Angels member for a classic shakedown.

Major O'Donnell: "They'd have him take a ride and go see one of these people that were affecting the bottom line at their job."

Achille was scooped up by police before anything went down. Special Agent Sallet says for a victim of an extortion case, an outlaw biker is a scary presence.

Supervisory Special Agent Sallet: "They advertise who they are. That's how they generate their fear."

Advertising, like this: gang jackets, patches, tattoos. These pictures are part of a federal criminal case against Jeffrey Dillon. A man the government says is the head of the Fall River motorcycle gang The Sidewinders.

Dillon is facing charges for weapons possession and intent to deal drugs. Prosecutors are using the photographs of Dillon's "one percent" tattoo, as evidence. O'Donnell says the tattoo boasts they are the one percent of biker's that proudly, break the law.

Major O'Donnell: "That puts you in a higher regard in the biker world, which is a warped regard."

The U.S. Attorneys office hasn't linked Dillon to any faction of the Patriarca crime family. Dillon's defense attorney Jack Cicilline, says his client is an avid hunter, and that Dillon was unaware as a convicted felon, he was not allowed to possess firearms.

Dillon's trial is set to begin next month. O'Donnell is quick to point out there is a world of difference between the everyday motorcycle enthusiast and those considered an outlaw. He says the bad guys represent about one percent of the biker population.

To know more about this partnership, including an extensive interview with investigators about outlaw motorcycle gangs watch the extended video within this web page.

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Saturday, March 17, 2007

America's Most Wanted: James "Whitey" Joseph Bulger

Friends of ours: James "Whitey" Bulger, Raymond Patriarca, Jerry Angiulo, "Cadillac" Frank Salemme, Steven "The Rifleman" Flemmi
Friends of mine: John Connelly

There was a period of time in the 80s when renowned mobster James "Whitey" Bulger led a reign of terror of sorts in Boston, Mass. Those who knew him or dug around for information found their lives threatened by Bulger and his crew. So when he went on the run in 1995, no one talked for fear of retaliation. But now, FBI Agents have released surveillance video of Bulger in hopes of helping their investigation. Although the video is more than 25 years old, agents on the Bulger Fugitive Task Force believe bringing national attention to the case may help jog the memories of those who were too scared to come forward when Whitey Bulger had control.

The housing projects in South Boston are a difficult place to grow up. Crowded and violent, these complexes are renowned in the Boston area for creating tough, often criminal, young men. That's where the Bulger boys, Jimmy and Billy spent their formative years. But the neighborhood had different effects on the two boys. Billy grew up to be a very well respected leader in the community. He was elected to the Massachusetts Senate in 1979 and became its president, a position he held for 17 years.

Jimmy, however, was a different story. He was always known as a tough kid on the streets - no one would call him his nickname, "Whitey," to his face. Bulger hated the name, given to him for his shock of blond hair. At a young age he turned to a life of crime. He was convicted of bank robbery in the 1950s and spent nine years in federal prisons, including the infamous Alcatraz. When he got out, he made his way back to Boston and reportedly vowed never to go back to prison again. But that's not to say that Whitey changed his ways. Authorities allege Whitey became an underworld mob figure, involved in loan sharking, extortion, money laundering and various other crimes. In the 70s state police and DEA agents say Bulger's most common criminal activity was extortion of other criminals. Drug dealers who wanted to move their drugs through South Boston had to pay Bulger for the privilege. As a result, he was known as a Robin Hood figure in the community, stealing from the criminals and giving back to the residents of his neighborhood.

Cops say Bulger was not always so philanthropic. Those who knew him say he could be violent, especially to those who got in his way. When a liquor store owner would not sell his business, cops say Bulger threatened his infant daughter. Those who seemed to be a threat to Bulger kept disappearing. But for years, Bulger was never charged with any crime, and never arrested.

Meanwhile, a crackdown on the Italian Mafia was taking place all over the country, and Boston was no exception. In the 60s and 70s, Boston's mob community was controlled by the Patriarca family. Raymond Patriarca ruled out of Providence, Rhode Island, and his underboss Jerry Angiulo ran the rackets in Boston. The mafia controlled most of the nefarious business in the city, but they were not the only act in town. The Winter Hill Gang, an Irish force named for a hill in Somerville, MA, was renowned for their violent manner and iron fist with which they ran their extortion schemes.

In the mid eighties, two events left the New England mob scene in turmoil. The mob boss, Raymond Patriarca died. His lieutenant in charge of Boston, Jerry Angiulo, was sent to prison. Boston was up for grabs. The Patriarca family out of Rhode Island tried to maintain power, but they were challenged by a local don, "Cadillac" Frank Salemme. Salemme wound up on top, thanks to, officials report, Steven "The Rifleman" Flemmi and James "Whitey" Bulger.

The government's investigation of the Boston mob did not end with Patriarca's death. They went after Salemme and his organization next and were able to connect members with multiple counts of extortion, drug charges and many counts of murder. In January, 1995, a RICO indictment was released charging Bulger and others with crimes. The other co-conspirators were arrested, but Bulger, mystifyingly, escaped.

Soon after the indictment came down it became clear how Bulger had managed to evade the law over all those years and how he knew to run when the indictment was issued. Bulger was working as an informant for the FBI. An FBI agent, John Connelly, who also grew up in the South Boston projects, had been brought in to help the organized crime division bring down the Italian Mafia. One of Connelly's techniques was to use his connections in the underworld to recruit informants. Steven "The Rifleman" Flemmi was one of those, as was "Whitey" Bulger.

In return for their information, Connelly promised that the FBI would turn a blind eye to any criminal enterprises Bulger may be involved in. In addition, the FBI tipped Bulger off whenever another agency, like the Massachusetts State Police or the DEA, was trying to build a case against him. So, when the US Attorney was about to release the indictment against Bulger, Connelly tipped him off and gave him a head start on those pursuing him.

Authorities believe Bulger could be anywhere now. They have tracked him all over the country and the world. They believe he was in Britian a few years ago, and they found safe deposit boxes in England and Ireland filled with money.

Agents believe Bulger is staying in a warm climate, and believe he may have to treat a heart condition with a drug called Atenolol.

Thanks to AMW

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