Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

The Providence Mob

Junior Patriarca

Raymond J. "Junior" Patriarca leadership was approved by Anthony "Fat Tony" Salerno the head of the Genovese family in New York. Patriarca quickly rewarded Zannino for his backing by appointing him consigliere. Zannino had been indicted on the same racketeering charges that had brought down the Angiulo family, but he was tried separately. In early May 1985, Zannino was ordered jailed by a U.S. magistrate. Over the next two years Zannino feigned health problems to keep from going to trial. When he was finally ordered to appear in 1987, he was found guilty. Sentenced to 30 years in prison, he died there on March 6, 1996.

In August 1985 another of the old-timers passed away. Henry Tameleo died in prison of respiratory failure. He had served 17 years of a life sentence for his role in the Deegan murder. At the time, Tameleo was looking forward to a December parole date. He died the oldest inmate in the Massachusetts prison system at age 84.

Francis P. Salemme (AP)
Francis P. Salemme

With Angiulo in prison, the role of underboss went to Francesco "Paul" Intiso. A contemporary and friend of the elder Patriarca, Intiso served as a kind of caretaker until his death in 1985. His role as underboss, according to authorities, was filled by William P. "The Wild Man" Grasso of New Haven, Connecticut. Grasso had a close working relationship with the crime families of New York. Some crime authorities believe the underboss position went to 70 year-old Charles Quintino of Revere, Massachusetts, because Junior needed someone closer to home to oversee the Boston operations. One of the capos in the new regime was Joseph "J. R." Russo, the assassin of Joe Barboza. Russo had assumed control of the East Boston-Revere area.

Law enforcement experts questioned the leadership abilities of Junior Patriarca. Some believed that Grasso, with his New York City connections, was the real power in New England. If he was, his reign was short-lived. On June 16, 1989, the 62-year-old Grasso was found along the banks of the Connecticut River with a bullet in the back of his head. After the Grasso murder, Nicholas "Nicky" Bianco of Providence was considered by the FBI the "unofficial" head of the Providence operations with Junior serving as a titular head. Also continuing to rise in 1989 was J. R. Russo. The same day Grasso was found dead, Frances P. "Cadillac Frank" Salemme was shot and seriously wounded in Saugus, Massachusetts.

Biagio DiGiacomo
Biagio DiGiacomo

On March 26, 1990, Junior Patriarca and 20 reputed family members were indicted on charges that included racketeering, gambling, extortion, drug trafficking and murder. The RICO indictment named Bianco, as the underboss of the family, and J. R. Russo as the consigliere. In addition, five capos or lieutenants were also charged: Biagio DiGiacomo, Vincent M. "The Animal" Ferrara, Matthew L. Gugleilmetti, Dennis D. "Champagne" Lepore and the aforementioned Carrozza. The 21 arrested included family members in Connecticut, Massachusetts and Rhode Island. The charges capped a five-year investigation and were described as the "most sweeping attack ever launched on a single organized crime family."

Vincent "The Animal" Ferrara

The indictment contained charges against 17 family members who were present at a Mafia induction ceremony held for four men in Medford, Massachusetts, on October 29, 1989. It was the first time members of law enforcement were able to tape a family initiation ceremony, which crime family members had denied for years ever took place. The taping of the ceremony would create much embarrassment for the New England family and would be used during other mob trials for years to prove the existence of a secret criminal society.

In early February 1991 the Boston Globe reported that, because of the embarrassment caused by the tapes, Bianco replaced Junior Patriarca as head of the New England Family. Bianco was described as low key, secretive, private and "anything but flashy." At the time a former Rhode Island State Police investigator stated that Junior Patriarca, "Didn't have the brains or the power to lead the family. He couldn't lead a Brownie troop." The paper also reported that the recently wounded Frank Salemme of Sharon, Massachusetts, had become underboss.

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