The Providence Mob
Rule Returns to Boston
On December 3, 1991, Raymond J. Patriarca pleaded guilty to racketeering and other charges in Boston, distancing and disassociating himself from several co-defendants charged with more serious crimes. Prosecutors tried in vain to have a long sentence imposed on him. Part of the pre-sentencing testimony came from former Philadelphia mobster, Scarfo Family underboss Philip Leonetti, who was now working with the government.
In June 1992, Patriarca was sentenced to eight years and one month in prison. His legal woes continued over the next few years. The U.S. Court of Appeals ruled that a federal judge erred in his sentencing of Junior. The court claimed the judge did not consider if Patriarca was responsible for crimes committed by other New England family members. As a result of the ruling, an additional 23 months were tacked on to his sentence in December 1995.
On December 11, 1998, Raymond "Junior" Patriarca was released from a Milan, Michigan prison. Heading back to his home in Lincoln, Rhode Island, he planned to return to work as a property developer. Patriarca knew he could be sent back to prison for parole violation if he was caught associating with crime family members. It remains to be seen what effort he will make, if any, to return to his previous activities. So far, he has kept a low profile.
Disclosures made during the trial of New England Family crime boss Frank Salemme seem to have vindicated Patriarca of the belief that his ineptitude allowed the bugging of the induction ceremony in 1989. Family member Angelo Mercurio, who drove Patriarca to the ceremony, was revealed to be an FBI informant. Under federal law warrants for electronic surveillance are only available if there are no other means of obtaining information. Defense experts say that law enforcement officials lied to the judge, failing to disclose that an informant, Mercurio, would be attending the ceremony.
The Boston portion of the RICO trial was set to get underway with jury selection on January 6, 1992. Sixteen days later all of the defendants entered guilty pleas on the condition they were allowed to deny that they were members of the Mafia, La Cosa Nostra or the Patriarca crime family. The men were fined and sentenced on April 29. J. R. Russo fined $758,000 and sentenced to 16 years; Vincent Ferrara, fined $1,116,000 and sentenced to 22 years; Robert "Bobby Russo" Carrozza fined $878,000 and sentenced to 19 years; Dennis Lepore fined $767,000 and sentenced to 14 years; and Carmen Tortora was fined $2,000 and sentenced to 13 years.
The pleas protected Ferrara, Russo and Carrozza from prosecution in the murder of William Grasso and the attempted murder of Frank Salemme. Ferrara was also protected from prosecution in the 1985 slaying of Vincent James Limoli. J. R. Russo, whose indictment included the 1976 murder of Joe Barboza, told the court, "I understand there is enough evidence to prove me guilty (of the Barboza murder), but I am not admitting to guilt." On June 1, 1998, Russo died in the same Missouri prison as Nicholas Bianco.
When the dust settled from all of the trials and turmoil in New England, Frances "Cadillac Frank" Salemme became the new boss and the power base of the crime family shifted back to Boston for the first time since the mid-1950s. In Providence leadership was believed to have fallen upon Luigi Giovanni "Baby Shacks" Manocchio.
A health fanatic in his early 70s, Manocchio was described as a "shrewd, opportunistic old-school leader who excels at keeping a low profile." Manocchio, who became the boss in Providence after the imprisonment of other leaders, is considered "tough and capable, and is well respected among the New York Crime Families." Manocchio's criminal record dated back to the 1940s. In 1968 he participated in the killing of Rudolph Marfeo and Anthony Melei. Manocchio became a fugitive for the next ten years before resurfacing in 1979 to face the charges. After a plea bargain, where he answered to murder conspiracy charges, he served a two and a half-year sentence.
In July 1996 he was indicted with 43 others in a burglary ring sweep. Prosecutors say the sweep ended a wave of break-ins of a mob-sanctioned gang that had netted $10 million in stolen goods. From this stolen merchandise Manocchio had given a refrigerator and a dishwasher to his 96 year-old mother. When his trial came up in April 1999 the 71 year-old Manocchio pleaded guilty and was placed on three years' probation.