The Patriarca crime family, also known as the New England crime family or Providence crime family, is an Italian-American organized crime syndicate based in New England, specifically Providence, Rhode Island and Boston, Massachusetts, and is part of the Italian-American Mafia or "La Cosa Nostra". The Patriarca crime family is considered one of the most active mob families outside of New York City.
The New England-based Mafia family that would later be known as the Patriarca crime family was founded by Gaspare Messina in 1916, and he led the family until his retirement in 1924. Messina was then succeeded by Phil Buccola. Under Buccola the family increased its power and wealth, mostly through loan sharking, gambling, and bootlegging. Buccola remained the boss of the crime family for thirty years before retiring to Sicily in 1954. He was succeeded by Raymond "Il Patrone" Patriarca.
In 1954 Patriarca made drastic changes in the family, the biggest being moving the family's base of operations to Providence, Rhode Island. He ran his family from the National Cigarette Service Company and Coin-O-Matic Distributors, a vending machine and pinball business on Atwells Avenue in the Federal Hill neighborhood of Providence. The business was known to family members as "The Office." Patriarca was a strict and ruthless leader. He successfully ran his crime family for decades. He made it clear that other crime families were not permitted to operate in New England, and was also skilled at warding off police and maintaining a low profile and thus received 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 also formed strong relationships with the New York crime families, who had controlled organized crime in Providence before he moved in. Patriarca's long-time underboss, Enrico Tameleo, was even a member of New York's Bonanno crime family. He also worked with the Genovese crime family frequently. Patriarca and the Genoveses decided that the dividing line between the two families' territory would be the Connecticut River. In addition to having close ties to the powerful New York Mafia, Patriarca was also on the Mafia's ruling commission and had investments in two Las Vegas casinos. Another of Patriarca's underbosses was Gennaro "Jerry" Angiulo. 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 was based in Boston and gained complete control of gambling in the city.
The Apalachin Meeting and aftermath
In 1957, more than 60 of the country's most powerful crime bosses met in Apalachin, a hamlet in upstate New York. The meeting was attended by powerful organized crime figures, such as Joe Bonanno, Carlo Gambino, and Vito Genovese. Raymond Patriarca was also in attendance, and was subsequently arrested with all of the other attenders. The Apalachin Meeting drew a lot of attention to Patriarca from the press, the public, and law enforcement.
The situation became worse for Patriarca and his family in 1961, when Robert F. Kennedy became Attorney General and began an assault on organized crime. Law enforcement agencies worked to develop informers within the mob and finally succeeded in 1966 when Joe Barboza, a hit man for the Patriarca family who claimed to have killed 26 people, was arrested on a concealed weapons charge. Barboza became concerned when Patriarca did not raise his bail and two of his friends were killed for trying to do so. Barboza became an informant not long after, and in 1967, Patriarca and Enrico Tameleo were indicted for the murder of Providence bookmaker, Willie Marfeo. Patriarca was convicted and began serving time in 1969. While Patriarca was in prison, Angiulo served as acting boss. Patriarca was released in 1974 and resumed control of the family.
Patriarca was plagued by law enforcement for the rest of his life, and was charged numerous times for a variety of crimes until his death in 1984. In 1978, Vinnie 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 in 1984, he was arrested for the murder of Robert Candos, whom Patriarca believed was an informant. Raymond "Il Patrone" Patriarca died of a heart attack, aged 76, on July 11, 1984.
After Patriarca's death, the New England Mafia began a long period of decline, resulting from both legal prosecution and internal violence. After Patriarca's death, Jerry Angiulo attempted to take over as boss, despite being in jail. However, Larry Zannino, the family's top lieutenant, backed Patriarca's son, Raymond Patriarca Jr. for the position. The National 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. Gennaro Angiulo was sentenced to 45 years in prison for racketeering charges. Other senior members died, such as Henry Tameleo and Francesco Intiso, and William Grasso then filled in as underboss because of the younger Patriarca s weak leadership. Some law enforcers believed that Grasso was actually in charge, but these rumors ended when Grasso was found dead in June 1989. Nicholas Bianco then took over the family's Providence operations.
On March 26, 1990, Raymond Patriarca Jr. and 20 other family members and associates were indicted on numerous racketeering, extortion, narcotics, gambling, and murder charges, including underboss Bianco, consigliere Joseph Russo, and lieutenants Biagio Digiacomo, Vincent Ferrara, Matthew Gugleilmetti, Joseph A. Tiberi Sr, Dennis Lepore, and Robert Carozza. 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 13 Mafiosi were present. Because of this embarrassment, Patriarca was replaced as boss by Bianco, who maintained a very low profile. However, in 1991, Bianco was sentenced to 11 years in prison, while eight other family members were convicted of Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO) charges. Bianco died in prison in 1994. Patriarca was sentenced to 8 years in prison in 1992 after pleading guilty to racketeering charges. On January 6, 1992, all of the defendants in the RICO trial pled guilty and received lengthy sentences and large fines.
In 1993, 26 others were indicted and convicted for running a bookmaking operation. Much of the legal trouble was the result of cooperation between Whitey Bulger, a mob rival and leader of Boston's Winter Hill Gang, and Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) agent John Connolly, who let Bulger, a personal friend, run his criminal operations with impunity.
Frank Salemme took over the family after the trials and moved the family s base back to Boston. Salemme's ascension to the position of boss, however, sparked tensions among family factions. In 1991 and 1992, six mob-related killings resulted from internal family violence. The war between Salemme and a crew of renegade mobsters continued for several years, with murders of more mob associates piling up all over Massachusetts until 1996. In 1995, Salemme was indicted on racketeering charges, and his younger brother Jack took over as acting boss.
In 1997, the FBI indicted 15 members of the renegade crew including Anthony Ciampi, Michael P. Romano, Sr., Vincent Gigi Portalla Marino, Enrico M. Rico Ponzo, Nazzaro Ralph Scarpa, Sean Cote, Todd Mitchell, Mark F. Spisak, Anthony Allan Diaz, Eugene A. Gino Rida, Jr., John M. Arciero, Paul DeCologero, Christopher Puopolo and Leo M. Chipper Boffoli, as well as faction leader Robert Carozza the only made member of the group. 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 government witness. When the verdict for the trial returned, the jury acquitted the defendants of most charges and was deadlocked on murder and racketeering charges. While a second trial was underway, several of the defendants, including Anthony Ciampi and Eugene Rida, changed their pleas to guilty. In February 2000, Salemme, who had already been in prison for several years, made a plea bargain and got eleven years in jail.
The current boss of the Patriarca crime family is believed to be Peter Limone. Reputed underboss is supposedly Robert "Bobby" DeLuca. The New England Mafia is estimated to have about 50 made members and many more associates. The Patriarca crime family remains one of the largest and most prominent Mafia families outside of New York. The Patriarca family continues its influence in New England yet, like all American Mafia families, it declined in numbers. The Patriarca family is perhaps the most active, influential, and dangerous criminal syndicate for its size in the country. Its influence is in the New England area, such as Boston and Providence, Rhode Island.
There have been several FBI RICO indictments in recent years on the family, landing several prominent members behind bars; however, like all criminal organizations, when one man gets locked up, another takes his place. The Patriarca family has found numerous ways to generate money, and they are keeping up with the times through modern day stock and internet scams. The most recent high profile cases of the family as of 2010 have been Carmen "The Cheeseman" DiNunzio and Arthur Gianelli, John Connolly's brother-in-law.
Historical leadership of the Patriarca Family
Bosses (official and acting)
In the beginning the Boston and Providence families were separate. The Boston family was controlled by Gaspare Messina from 1916 to 1924 along with his underboss Joseph Lombardo. The Providence family was under the leadership of Frank Morelli from 1916 to 1931. Filippo Buccola took control of the Boston family in 1924, which allowed the group to grow stronger in power and influence. By 1931 Buccola began to merge the Boston and Providence families into one. He allowed Frank Morelli to serve as his new underboss and Lombardo to serve as consigliere in 1931.
Underbosses (official and acting)
Consigliere (official and acting)
- 1931 1954: Joseph Lombardo: retired, died 1969
- 1954 1976: Frank "The Cheeseman" Cucchiara: committed suicide
- 1976 1984: Nicolo "Nicky" Angiulo: imprisoned, died 1987
- 1984 1987: Ilario "Larry Baiona" Zannino: imprisoned, died 1996
- 1987 1998: Joseph "J.R." Russo: imprisoned, died 1998
- 1998 present:
Members and associates
Vincent Teresa, former prominent associate (who claimed to only report to the boss and underboss of the family) in the New England Mafia when headed by Patriarca. Became a government informant in the 1970s
Joseph Barboza, Portuguese-American Patriarca enforcer
- John "Mad Dog" Nazarian, contract killer for Patriarca, who "led the hit on Albert Anastasia of Murder Inc"
Ronnie Costa, mob member for Patriarca until moving to a Los Angeles crime family
- John J. Kelley, contract killer for Raymond Patriarca
Richard Tiberi, assistant to Raymond Patriarca
Joseph Tiberi, associate of Raymond Patriarca
- Morris "the Pro" Lerner, mob associate and assassin
Vincent Iannelli, mob member/contract killer for Patriarca
Matthew Guglielmetti, Rhode Island Caporegime
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