Patriarca crime family
The Patriarca crime family (, Italian pronunciation: [patriˈarka]), also known as the New England Mafia, the Boston Mafia, the Providence Mafia, or The Office, is an Italian-American Mafia family in New England. It has two distinct factions, one based in Providence, Rhode Island, and the other in Boston, Massachusetts. The family is currently led by Carmen "The Cheese Man" Dinunzio, who is part of the Boston faction. The family is active primarily in Massachusetts, Rhode Island and parts of Connecticut.
Two separate Mafia families emerged in New England before the start of Prohibition – one based in Boston, Massachusetts and the other based in Providence, Rhode Island. The Boston crime family was founded in 1916 by Gaspare Messina. Frank Morelli formed the Providence family in 1917, and he eventually controlled bootlegging and illegal gambling operations in Providence, Maine, and Connecticut. In 1924, Gaspare Messina stepped down as Boston's Mafia boss, assuming a businessman's role while working with Frank Cucchiara and Paolo Pagnotta from a grocery store on Prince Street in Boston's North End.
A Mafia power struggle ensued in Boston, as rival gangs fought for illegal gambling, bootlegging, and loan sharking rackets, and East Boston mobster Filippo Buccola emerged as the boss of the Boston family. In December 1930 or early 1931, a Mafia meeting was held and Messina was elected the temporary capo dei capi of the American Mafia. He retired from Mafia affairs in the early 1930s and died in June 1957 in his Somerville, Massachusetts home.
During the early 1930s, Buccola battled other ethnic gangs for territory in Boston, along with his underboss Joseph Lombardo, another mobster from the North End. In December 1931, Lombardo arranged the murder of Frank Wallace, the boss of South Boston's Irish Gustin Gang. Then in 1932, Morelli merged his Providence family with Buccola's Boston family, forming the New England crime family. Buccola ruled as boss of the combined family from East Boston as he continued to fatally dispatch his competition. After the murder of Jewish mob boss Charles "King" Solomon at Buccola's command, Buccola became the most powerful gangster in Boston. On April 27, 1952, Buccola held a party in Johnston, Rhode Island, to celebrate his retirement and Raymond Patriarca's ascension to boss of the family. He retired to Sicily in 1954, where he ran a chicken farm. He died in 1987 of natural causes at the age of 101.
In 1956, Patriarca made drastic changes in the family, the biggest being the relocation of their base of operations to Providence, using the National Cigarette Service Company and Coin-O-Matic Distributors, a vending machine and pinball business on Atwells Avenue, as a front organization. The business was known to family members as "The Office."
Patriarca was a strict and ruthless leader; he ran the family for decades and made it clear that other Mafia organizations were not permitted to operate in New England. He was skilled at warding off police and maintaining a low profile, thus receiving little hindrance from law enforcement. The family ventured into new rackets such as pornography and narcotics, though mob informer Vincent Teresa insisted that Patriarca forbade the family to deal in drugs.
During his reign as boss, Patriarca formed strong relationships with the New York-based Genovese crime family and Colombo crime family, deciding that the Connecticut River would be the dividing line between their territory and his own. His long-time underboss, Enrico Tameleo, was also a member of New York's Bonanno crime family. The New England family controlled organized crime in Boston and Worcester, Massachusetts, where Genovese capo Carlo Mastrototaro reigned as local boss for half a century, as well as the state of Maine; while the Genovese family controlled organized crime in Hartford, Connecticut, Springfield, Massachusetts, and Albany, New York.
In addition to having close ties to the powerful Five Families, Patriarca also sat on the Commission and had investments in two Las Vegas casinos. Another of his underbosses, Gennaro "Jerry" Angiulo, was involved in the numbers racket in Boston, and was being shaken down by rival mobsters because he was not a "made" member. Angiulo solved this problem by paying Patriarca $50,000 and agreeing to pay him $100,000 a year to become a made member of the family. Angiulo gained complete control of gambling in Boston.
In 1957, more than sixty of the country's most powerful Mafia bosses, including Joe Bonanno, Carlo Gambino, and Vito Genovese, met in Apalachin, a hamlet in upstate New York. Patriarca was also in attendance and was subsequently arrested when the meeting was suddenly raided by police, drawing much attention to him from the press, the public, and law enforcement.
The situation became worse for Patriarca in 1961, when U.S. Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy began an assault on organized crime. Law enforcement agencies worked to develop informants within the Mafia and finally succeeded in 1966, when Joe Barboza, a Patriarca family hitman, was arrested on a concealed weapons charge. Barboza claimed to have killed 26 people, but became concerned when Patriarca did not raise his bail and two of his friends were killed for trying to do so. He soon decided to turn informant.
Based on Barboza's testimony, Patriarca and Enrico Tameleo were indicted in 1967 for the murder of Providence bookmaker Willie Marfeo. Patriarca was convicted and began serving time in 1969, and Angiulo served as acting boss. Patriarca resumed control of the family after his release from prison in 1974. For his testimony, Barboza was given a one-year prison term, including time served. He was paroled in March 1969 and told to leave Massachusetts permanently. In 1971, he pleaded guilty to a second-degree murder charge in California and sentenced to five years at Folsom Prison; he was murdered in San Francisco by Joseph "J. R." Russo on February 11, 1976, less than three months after his release.
Patriarca was plagued by law enforcement for the rest of his life, and he was charged numerous times for a variety of crimes until his death. In 1978, Vincent Teresa testified that Patriarca had participated in a 1960 attempt by the Central Intelligence Agency to kill Fidel Castro that was never carried out. In 1983, Patriarca was charged with the murder of Raymond Curcio, and he was arrested in 1984 for the murder of Robert Candos, whom Patriarca believed was an informant. Patriarca died of a heart attack on July 11, 1984, aged 76.
After Patriarca's death, the New England family began a long period of decline, resulting from both legal prosecution and internal violence. Angiulo attempted to take over as boss from behind bars, while Larry Zannino, the family's top lieutenant, backed Patriarca's son Raymond Patriarca, Jr. for the position. The Commission approved Patriarca, Jr.'s ascendancy to leadership and his position was confirmed. Zannino was made consigliere, but he was sentenced to thirty years in prison in 1987. Angiulo was sentenced to 45 years in prison on racketeering charges. Other senior members died or were imprisoned, such as Henry Tameleo and Francesco Intiso.
William "The Wild Man" Grasso, an East Hartford-based gangster, became underboss because of the younger Patriarca's weak leadership. Some investigators believed that Grasso was actually in charge, but these rumors ended when Grasso was found dead in June 1989, slain by a gangster from Springfield as factions of the family began fighting each other for dominance. Grasso's murder weakened Patriarca, Jr.'s position. Nicholas Bianco was eventually indicted for the murder, but he became acting underboss before taking over the family's Providence operations.
On March 26, 1990, Patriarca, Jr. and twenty other family members and associates were indicted on charges of racketeering, extortion, narcotics, gambling, and murder. The indictments included underboss Bianco, consigliere Joseph Russo, and lieutenants Biagio DiGiacomo, Vincent Ferrara, Matthew Guglielmetti, Joseph A. Tiberi Sr, Dennis Lepore, Gaetano J. Milano, Jack Johns, John "Sonny" Castagna, Louis Fallia, Frank and Louis Pugliono, Frank Colontoni and Robert Carrozza. The arrests were described as "the most sweeping attack ever launched on a single organized crime family." One of the most damaging pieces of evidence was a tape recording of a Mafia induction ceremony, at which thirteen mafiosi were present. Because of this embarrassment, Patriarca was replaced as boss by Bianco, who maintained a very low profile. However, Bianco was sentenced to eleven years in prison in 1991, while eight other family members were convicted on Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO) charges. Bianco died in prison in 1994.
On January 6, 1992, all of the defendants in the RICO trial pleaded guilty and received lengthy sentences and large fines. Patriarca, Jr. was sentenced to eight years in prison in June 1992 after pleading guilty to racketeering charges. In 1993, 26 others were indicted and convicted for running a bookmaking operation.
Frank Salemme took over the family after the RICO trial and moved their base back to Boston. His ascension to the position of boss, however, sparked tensions among family factions.
On March 31, 1994, Patriarca soldiers Ronald Coppola and Pete Scarpellini were shot and killed at a social club in Cranston, Rhode Island, by another Patriarca soldier, Nino Cucinotta, during a card game. On October 20, 1994, Joe Souza was shot inside an East Boston phone booth on October 20, 1994, dying from his injuries at the hospital on October 31. On December 11, 1994, 25-year old drug dealer and Salemme loyalist Paul Strazzulla was shot and killed, his body recovered inside of his fire-torched car in Revere, Massachusetts.
In January 1995, Salemme was indicted along with Stephen Flemmi and James "Whitey" Bulger on extortion and racketeering charges, and Salemme discovered through court documents that his close allies Flemmi and Bulger were long-time FBI informants. Bulger's friend, FBI agent John Connolly, let him run his criminal operations with impunity for informing on the Patriarca family.
After Salemme was imprisoned, a renegade faction led by Robert F. Carrozza, Anthony Ciampi, Stephen Foye, and Michael P. Romano, Sr. waged war on the Salemme faction. On April 3, 1996, 63-year old Richard "Vinnie the Pig" DeVincent is shot and killed in Medford, Massachusetts, after refusing to pay street tax from Salemme loyalists. In April 1997, the FBI indicted fifteen members of the renegade faction, including Carrozza, Ciampi, Romano, and others. The grand jury testimony that resulted in the indictments was dominated by Sean Thomas Cote, who was the first of four indicted members to turn state's evidence. The jury ultimately acquitted the defendants of most charges but was deadlocked on murder and racketeering charges. Following Salemme's indictment, Providence family member Luigi "Baby Shacks" Manocchio took control of the family.
Several of the defendants changed their pleas to guilty during a second trial, including Ciampi and Eugene Rida. Salemme pleaded guilty to racketeering charges on December 9, 1999, and was sentenced to eleven years in prison on February 23, 2000. In early 2001, he agreed to testify against Flemmi and Bulger.
The New England family is estimated to have about sixty made members active in the New England area, especially in the cities of Boston and Providence. In recent years, the family has been hit with several RICO indictments, and two capos (Mark Rossetti and Robert DeLuca) have become government informants. The power structure was said to have moved back to Boston entering the 2010s.
Retired boss Luigi "Baby Shacks" Manocchio was arrested in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, on January 19, 2011, and was charged with extortion and conspiracy. Manocchio had stepped down as boss in 2009, after the FBI began investigating two strip clubs in late 2008. In February 2012, Manocchio agreed to plead guilty and was sentenced to 5½ years in prison for extortion on May 11, 2012.
In late 2009, Anthony DiNunzio became the acting boss after Limone's arrest. DiNunzio operates from Boston's North End and is the younger brother to Carmen DiNunzio. In 2010, DiNunzio extorted Rhode Island strip clubs with members of the Gambino crime family. On April 25, 2012, DiNunzio was arrested and charged with racketeering and extortion. On September 13, 2012, DiNunzio pleaded guilty to shaking down Rhode Island strip clubs, and was sentenced to six years on November 14, 2012.
On October 2, 2014, acting boss Antonio L. "Spucky" Spagnolo, 72, and reputed made man Pryce "Stretch" Quintina, 74, were arrested for allegedly extorting thousands of dollars in protection payments from a video poker machine company, which installed machines for illegal gambling in bars and social clubs. Spagnolo took over as acting boss after DiNunzio was arrested back in 2012. Both Spagnolo and Quintina are reputedly old members of the Patriarca crime family's Boston faction.
In April 2016, family consigliere Anthony "Ponytail Tony" Parillo was sentenced to five-year prison term for felony assault.
Notes 1. Frank Morelli was the first boss of the Providence crime family from 1917 to 1932 when he stepped down, becoming Underboss to Buccola