Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

The Providence Mob

Nicholas Bianco

Nicholas Bianco, who grew up on Atwells Avenue, was originally with the Colombo crime family in New York before relocating to New England to serve the elder Patriarca for thirty years. Described as a "strong player in the New England underworld for decades," Bianco waited patiently to become boss. He helped run the family in the early 1970s during the critical period that the elder Patriarca was serving time. Bianco moved up the ranks quietly never attracting attention. His low-key image resulted in some members of the Boston mob to complain that they didn't even know what he looked like. Law enforcement figures stated that because of his insulated lifestyle and practices they were never able to record him on tape.

During the 1960s, Bianco was the liaison between the New England family and the Colombo family. Bianco lived in Barrington, Rhode Island, a wealthy town southeast of Providence. His children attended private schools and one son went to law school. In 1984 Bianco was acquitted of murder conspiracy charges in the death of Anthony Mirabella. A year later, similar charges against him in the murder of Richard Callei were dismissed.

When the RICO trials from the March 1990 indictments finally got underway, John F. "Sonny" Castagna, a former associate of the Patriarca family, now turned government witness, revealed that Junior Patriarca would be killed by Boston mobsters if he did not step down. Castagna, testifying in May 1991, said the story was relayed to him by J. R. Russo.

"Raymond Junior had tears in his eyes and he was begging for his life," Castagna quoted Russo as saying.

The testimony took place during the Hartford trial which included defendant Gaetano Milano, who Castagna, now in the Federal Witness Protection Program with his son Jack Johns, claimed murdered William Grasso.

The Hartford trial came to an end on August 8, 1991, when eight members of the Patriarca family were convicted of violating the RICO act. Bianco and Americo Petrillo were convicted on two counts of racketeering; Milano was found guilty of murdering Grasso; and Frank Colantoni Jr. and brothers Frank and Louis Pugliano were found guilty of conspiracy in the Grasso murder. The other two defendants, found guilty of racketeering, were Salvatore "Butch" D'Aquila Jr. and Louis Faillia.

On November 25 Bianco was sentenced to 11 years and five months in prison and fined $125,000. He was ordered to report on December 30. On November 14, 1994, Bianco, at the age of 62, died at the federal medical facility in Springfield, Missouri. He had been suffering from Lou Gehrig's disease.

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