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Jan. 24, 2022

La "Causa" Nostra - The Hill - Part 1


In March 1962, the FBI installed a wiretap at New England mafia boss Raymond Patriarca's office in Providence, Rhode Island. The Coin-O-Matic on Atwells Ave. was Grand Central Station with people coming to Raymond with their tributes and complaints. The wiretap was a goldmine for the FBI's intelligence gathering. We introduce the regulars at Raymond's and some of their more comical crimes.

Episode 12 - Raymond Patriarca

Bonus Episode - Teddy Green

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Questions or comments, email lara@doubledealpodcast.com or nina@doubledealpodcast.com

Thank you for listening!

All the best,

Lara & Nina

Transcript

Lara:

Welcome back everyone! Before we get started, I want to thank everyone who has sent us fan mail recently. Special thanks to Daniel for sharing information about the Bennett brothers with us.

 

Nina:

Yes, we love hearing from our listeners!

 

Lara:

Keep ‘em coming!

Today’s episode is part one of two. We’ll be focusing on the men of the Coin-O-matic in Providence RI during the 1960s. Of course, Raymond Patriarca will be playing a central role and the men who were part of his crew. Part two will be about the feuds in Raymond’s realm. The Marfeos, Meleis, and Baccaris will be the stars along with Jackie Nazarian and Rudy Sciarra. Don’t worry, Jerry Angiulo is getting his own episode. We won’t be introducing Louis Manocchio, Nicky Bianco and Butchey Miceli until later in the season. 

I have to throw some our favorite “Raymondisms” in here:

“FBI men don’t understand. They got it in their blood.” Referring to Edmund McNamara. 

When referring to his control over the situation in Boston, Raymond said,

“I have a hold of the reins, but I don’t know where the horse is going.”

“Together we survive. Alone we die.”

“They [the New York and Chicago guys] got a complex.”

“A lot of those guys are in the organization because of their father’s, uncle’s, compadres. They got in without being tested, but born in.”

 

Nina:

Raymond’s pearls of wisdom! With a shot of bitterness.

 

We’ll also be introducing two more FBI Special Agents. Both of them were handling Top Echelon Informants who had access to Raymond, and the people surrounding him. You should be more than familiar with SA John Kehoe by now. He was Vinnie Teresa’s handler, but he was also responsible for sending reports about the wiretap installed at Atwells Ave to Hoover.

Hence the title “La Causa C-A-U-S-A Nostra.” The agents transcribing the wiretaps into reports and 302s had no knowledge of the Italian language, and Cosa, meaning “thing” in Italian, was often spelled as “cause” with an “A” on the end. It drives Lara nuts.



Lara:

 

Don’t get me started! Save that for Vinnie Teresa. 



Nina:

 

Calm down!

 

Of course, we’ll also be showcasing some of the often comical crimes the men around Raymond committed. We’ve got everything from Carter’s underwear to probably fake Rembrandts for you! Many of these guys and the agents will be making future appearances this season. I’ll mention State Police Col. Walter Stone as he was Raymond’s nemesis long before the special agents were on the scene. Col. Stone will be covered towards the end of this season.



Lara:

 

If we’ve left someone out in this episode let us know. It might be that we’re waiting to introduce them later or we’ve overlooked them, so feel free to email us.

 

Now, where to start?



Nina:

 

Before we get into the crew, let's talk about the wiretap itself. If it wasn’t for the wiretap and the informants feeding information to the Feds, we wouldn’t have the information necessary to do this episode. As we mentioned in episode 19, the wire was installed at the Coin-O-Matic on Atwells Ave in Providence on March 5, 1962, roughly 9 months after the Top Echelon informant program was launched. 

 

The wiretap was officially given the greenlight from Hoover in September 1961, but then the Boston Office decided it was too risky, and withdrew the request. It took another six months to install. From a legal standpoint, the wiretap was treated much like the Top Echelon program. The intelligence gathered from the so-called gypsy wires could be used but its origin had to be disguised. And as with the Top Echelon Program, this decision eventually blew up in the Feds’ faces. But we’ll get to that later.



Lara:

 

In the meantime, SA Charles Reppucci was trying to insert a Confidential Informant into Raymond’s circle. I believe that this person eventually becomes BS-829-CTE, but I really can’t figure out who it is.

 

In an airtel sent on January 16, 1962, the Boston SAC Leo Laughlin informed Hoover that a key to 168 Atwells Ave had been obtained by an unnamed individual “through risk of personal safety”. A month later, on February 14, 1962, Laughlin requested technical assistance in installing the wiretap at Raymond’s. The installation had to be postponed several times due to bad weather, but a little over two weeks later, Laughlin decided that the time was right. The operation began on March 3, when a Special Agent made the necessary modifications to the telephone pole that was connected to Raymond’s phone. Then on the evening of March 5, the FBI gained access to the building. 



Nina:

 

Cars were parked strategically to prevent anyone from entering the building while the Agents were inside installing the equipment. They used walkie-talkies to communicate with one another throughout the entire process. Once they were finished, they notified the Agents in the cars by a pre-arranged signal. An all-clear was given and the Agents left the building un-observed.

 

Hoover recommended rewarding the Agents who worked to install the wiretap, “in view of the almost insurmountable problems encountered in your efforts… and the problems encountered in connection with the actual installation, such as cold 20 degree weather, security, and full surveillance procedures utilized.”

 

The wiretap’s receiver was placed at the St Margaret's Home for Working Girls on Dean Street.



Lara:

 

The building where the Coin-O-Matic was located was not owned by Raymond but by his business partner, Philip Carrozza. Philip was born on February 2, 1905 in Providence, RI to Samuel Carrozza and Madeline Mascetta, both from Palena, Chieti, Abruzzo. 

 

During the Senate Racket Committee Hearings in February of 1959, Raymond testified that he and Carrozza were 50/50 partners in National Cigarette Vending Machine Co in which they both invested $9,000. Raymond claimed his portion came from the $80,000 inheritance from his mother.



Nina:

 

Remember he advised someone else to do the same thing later to dodge taxes!



Lara:

 

More of Raymond’s words of wisdom!

 

He and Carrozza had over 200 cigarette vending machines installed in various locations. Raymond testified, “I don’t know nothin’ about the business, Carrozza takes care of placing the machines.”

 

Philip was a constant presence in Raymond’s office and on the wiretaps..



Nina:

 

But his name is redacted! It drives me nuts!

 

As we mentioned in episode 19, SA Kehoe was assigned the task of listening to and transcribing the 302s into summaries rather than word by word accounts of the conversations taking place in the Coin-O-Matic office. But he wasn’t the only agent suffering through the endless hours of mostly gossip. SA Charles Reppucci was also subjected to it.



Lara:

 

Charles A Reppucci was born on May 4, 1920 in Somerville, MA. He was the son of Albert Reppucci and Theresa Ruggierio. He played baseball at Somerville High School, and graduated from Boston University’s Business Administration School in 1942 with a degree in Accounting. He also did ROTC and was a member of the military honor society Scabbard and Blade. Upon graduation, he served in the Navy in World War Two and was at Iwo Jima. After the war, he  joined the FBI in 1947, and was stationed in Tennessee and New York before returning to Boston. Reppucci was not a core member of McNamara’s Brink’s Team, but he did play a peripheral role in the investigation. By 1956, he had moved to Cranston, Rhode Island and Federal Hill was his beat.

 

Nina:

 

I always want to say it like Denny Condon did when he was being questioned by the committee. “Reppucci. R-E-P-P-U-C-C-I. Reppucci.” 

My favorite story about Charles is the time he had to save the IRS agents from getting hurt by Raymond’s guys. About two weeks after the wiretap was installed, the IRS took an apartment across the street from the Coin-O-Matic. But they were so bad at keeping a low profile that within 24 hours of moving in, Raymond sent someone to the apartment under the pretext of looking for a man named Russo. 

Raymond was concerned that whoever had taken the apartment was spying on him and taking photos of him and his visitors. His other fear was that the location was perfect for an assassin. Patriarca said he intended to send one of his men disguised as a mechanic to “resolve the situation”. Charles had to warn the IRS agents that Patriarca had found them out, and that they were in danger of “serious harm”. Raymond was later heard on the wiretap complaining that he should have sent someone over there the first night to “take care of the thing”.

 

We should also note that after he left the FBI, Charles worked at the RI Attorney General’s office.



Lara:

 

And the biggest case he assisted in will be the focus of the end of season one.



Nina:

 

Oh yeah.

 

Since we’ve already covered Raymond’s earlier and lesser known background in episode 12, let's not rehash any of that. If you missed it, you can go back and listen. We’ve linked it in the shownotes. 

 

We don’t have to present Coin-O Guys in any particular order, but I want to start with Henry Tameleo. Instead of doing full bios on each of them, let’s do small introductions. As we begin discussing the events we’re covering we will weave each of them back in.



Lara:

 

Before you tell us about Henry, I came across a news article from November of 1937. It listed a group of men gathered at the Paddock Hotel. Raymond and Joseph Patriarca, Butsey Morelli, Santino Ruggerio, Henry Tameleo, Blondy Simonelli, John Candelmo, Carlton O’Brien, Cameron O’Connor, Albert Lepore and Louis Taglianetti. The men who were part of Raymond’s inner circle had been together for decades. If you listened to our episode about Raymond, you might recall the Merola inquest. Lepore, Santino, Blondy and Carlton were also friends with Merola.

 

Ok, what have you got for us about Henry?



Nina:

 

Enrico “Henry” Tameleo was born on July 12, 1901 to Saverio and Marie in Providence, RI. Both of his parents were from Marzano, Appio, Campania. He was one of 6 children. He married Giovannina “Jeanette” Borrelli, whose parents were also from Marzano, on October 21, 1919. In his 1941 draft card Henry was described as 5’9”, 190 pounds, bald with brown eyes. A longtime friend of Raymond’s, Henry served as his underboss. He often acted as a mediator settling beefs between the guys, earning the nickname “The Referee”.



Lara:

 

Like many of the other men who were in Raympnd’s circle, Henry’s earlier record revolved around motor vehicle violations, but unlike some of his compatriots, he seemed to have left that all behind in the late 1930s. The most serious offense I could find was in 1930 for assisting in a jail break. Until ‘59 he appeared to stay out of trouble or at least from getting caught. That October, he and several others were served with restraining orders banning them from the Lincoln Downs Race Track. The ban became permanent in June of 1960. We’ll be covering more about Henry during the Teddy Deegan Episode.



Nina:

 

One of the men to be banned with Tameleo was Dennis Lytwyn aka Denny Raimondi.

 

Dennis Lytwyn was born in New York in 1923. As you can probably tell from his name, he wasn’t Italian at all. He was Polish. The first place he appears is returning to New York with his mother and older sister from a summer vacation visiting family in Poland. 

 

By the 1940 census, Dennis was living with his mother, step-father, and two step-brothers in New York City. His step-father, Antonio Raimondi, was with the Colombos. Dennis got into boxing and fought under his step-father’s name. His brother-in-law, who fought under the name “Wildcat O’Connor”, was quite well known in the 1930s boxing world. He kayoed or decisioned most of his rivals and was once crowned the Welterweight Champion of Pennsylvania. O’Connor later opened a gym in the Bronx to teach kids self-defense.



Lara:

 

Denny later claimed that he moved to Fall River with his family in the 1930s. But the census data says otherwise. His mother’s older brother had settled in Fall River, so there was a family connection there. 

 

Denny was arrested along with Harvey Bistany in May 1952, and held on a weapons charge.  Bistany was the one-eyed former boxer who was supposedly buddies with Willie “The Actor” Sutton. You might recall that Bistany was one of the men who helped put Teddy Green away. 

 

The police claimed that Denny had revealed that he and Bistany and another man were planning “a big holdup” in Providence. He was freed on $10,000 bail in July that year and given a 5 year suspended sentence in February of 1953. 



Nina:

 

A little over two years later Denny was arrested again, this time for arson. He and an accomplice had set two trucks on fire in the parking lot of the Old Colony Transportation Company. The company had been in the middle of a labor dispute and it was not immediately clear why Denny and his partner were involved. Denny pleaded innocent, and bail was set at $5000. I don’t think he did any time for that stunt either. The authorities believed that he had done it at Raymond’s behest.

 

During an investigation into a loan scheme in late 1961, Denny was questioned about his relationship with the Patriarcas. He told the Feds that he had become acquainted with the Patriarcas about five or six years prior. He claimed that the friendship had been struck when he was just hanging around Atwells Ave. Which doesn’t really seem plausible. He further claimed that their conversations were always casual and they never discussed business. Which was also an untruth. As I said, it was a documented fact that Raymond was using Dennis to commit arson and other strong arm tactics during labor disputes in the area. 

 

Denny went on to tell his interviewers that he was very fond of Raymond and would rather go to jail or cut off his right arm before he would give information about either of the Patriarca brothers. Frankly, his statement was so full of half-truths and hyperbole, I think it’s a case of protesting too much. 

 

Particularly given what happened in 1971, when Denny claimed that he’d been made by Raymond and went into great detail about the process to the Feds. I think he was looking to make a deal since he was locked up on Federal charges at the time, and facing another trial on conspiracy charges. The so-called “confession” was probably a contributing factor in his murder six years later. 

 

Denny always made a big deal about loyalty, but I think it’s highly probable that he was ratting since the 1950s. However, from the way the 302s read, it appears that he was not ratting to the Boston Office. 



Lara:

 

In October 1964, Anthony Raimondi paid a visit to Patriarca. The two men gossipped about Joe Bonnano and the situation in New York City. But the main purpose of Raimondi’s visit was to ask Raymond to force Denny to call his mother twice a week and send her $10 a week. Raymond promised to make Denny call his mother, and send her the money. He also said he’d make Denny visit his mother twice a month. What kind of Pole doesn’t visit his mother?



Nina:

 

Hey, we both have some Polish lineage, and it’s definitely not the norm. Maybe Denny was reporting to his step-dad. The New Yorkers must have been concerned about Raymond and his groupies. Moving on from Denny, who do you want to discuss next?



Lara:

 

Luigi “Louis the Fox” Taglianetti. Louis was born September 18, 1902 to Fiorentino and Rosaria in New York, but in the 1910 census they were living in Worcester, MA. The family had settled in Providence by 1915. He was one of 7 children. His father immigrated on his own when he was 13 from Campania, Italy, served in the Navy during WWI and later worked as a chauffeur. 

 

Louis' first arrest was in 1919 for running a dice game. Industrious young man. He was picked up again in ‘24 for the same offense. Then in ‘28 for assaulting a policeman. Like the others he had more than a few motor vehicle offenses including a drunk driving charge. It was 1935 and his lawyer convinced the court he needed a psych eval for his behavior.



Nina:

 

Louis was still living at home in the 1940 census, and he put his mother down as his emergency contact on his WW2 draft card. But that didn’t keep him from getting into trouble. He was arrested in ‘40 and in ‘41 with Alphonse Capalbo for running dice games in a cellar in Providence. In 1952, he testified during a court appearance about his multiple phone lines that he had never been arrested. Needless to say that didn’t go over well with the judge. Two years later he was back in court again, but this time as a complainant. He’d caught a peeping tom!



Lara:

 

In 1961, his boat was bombed and destroyed. It was rumored to be deliberate for the insurance money. We could only find a marriage for Louis to a woman named Mary Moretti who was 21 years his junior. Louis was at one time an employee of Raymond’s National Cigarette Co, and would be indicted for the murder of Jackie Nazarian just before his own murder. We’ll be telling Jackie’s story in the next episode.

 

On May 5, 1964 the wiretap picked up Louis The Fox and Tameleo discussing Dana Ricci’s $75 a week pay that he received for being Raymond’s driver. Ricci was dying of cancer and in a nursing home and his wife wasn’t receiving any help. Raymond told them to cut his pay to $40 a week and to give it directly to his wife.



Nina:

 

To be fair, the man was a degenerate gambler.



Lara:

 

And Raymond was a chisler! 



Nina:

 

Speaking of which, when Butsey Morelli was dying of cancer in 1962, he went to Raymond for a $5,000 loan. Raymond brushed him off and said he didn’t have the money. He gave Butsey 300 bucks and told him not to crowd him. By then, the Feds had labeled Morelli a “former Top Hoodlum”. Butsey’s criminal career extended back to at least 1917. 

 

He was born Adolpho Molarelli on February 21, 1896 to Gennaro and Filomena Caruolo in Providence, RI. Just to get your goat, Vinnie Teresa said he was born in Brooklyn but there’s no record of that. However there is a Rhode Island birth certificate. So much for the “quality” of Vinnie’s information. 

 

Frank was the youngest of 5 children. What Vinnie left out was that the family had moved to France from New York, returning to Rhode Island before Frank and two of his brothers were born. Shortly after that they shortened the name to Morelli. Frank’s father died in 1918. Things went downhill from there, and his mother was committed to an asylum in 1920. Probably because her boys were all crazy and drove her mad. 

 

That same year, Frank and three of his brothers were charged with receiving stolen goods from interstate commerce and conspiracy to steal freight cars. The prosecution alleged that the Morelli brothers were members of an organized gang of professional thieves and that they’d stolen thousands of dollars worth of goods over a three year period. The men were eventually found guilty and sent to the Penitentiary in Atlanta. 




Lara:

 

Butsey was released on February 24, 1924, and returned home. He was stabbed in front of the Public Library in 1925 in Providence but refused to say who his attacker was. It was rumored for decades that the Morellis had perpetrated the robbery and murders at the Slater and Morrill shoe factory in South Braintree on April 15, 1920. In his March 1927 article in the Atlantic, Harvard Law School professor Felix Frankfurter noted that the Morellis were “...under indictment in the United States District Court for Rhode Island for stealing from freight cars. Five out of nine indictments charging shoe thefts were for stealing consignments from Slater and Morrill at South Braintree and from Rice and Hutchins, the factory next door.”

 

He continued: 

 

“It will be recalled that the pay roll was that of the Slater and Morrill factory and that the murder and the robbery occurred in front of these two factories. The Morellis under indictment were out of jail awaiting trial. They needed money for their defense; their only source of income was crime. They were at large until May 25, when they were convicted and sent to Atlanta.”



Nina:

 

Sacco and Vanzetti were sentenced to death in April 1927. The Morellis fought the allegations made by Frankfuter for years, especially Joe Morelli who looked like he could be Sacco’s twin.

 

Butsey would run the gambling rackets in Rhode Island until the 1950s when control gradually shifted to Raymond. If you listened last week, you’ll recall that Butsey also made the trek to Havana to meet with Lucky Luciano just after the summit meeting there.



Lara:

 

Next up is Americo “Pat the Barber” Bucci. He was born in 1907 to Cosimo Bucci and Giovanina DiOrio. He was one of 10 children, but not all from the same mother. Cosimo was from Capriati a Volturno, Caserta, Italy. His record ranged from gambling to burglary and robbery. In March of 1959 one of his dice games was raided. 33 people were arrested and $8000 was seized from Americo. Two months later his lawyer filed a motion to have the money returned as he said “it wasn’t a gambling apparatus.” In October all the charges were dismissed against the defendants, and Americo got his money back.

 

He was a trusted childhood friend of Patricara’s, who would deliver messages for him. Bucci had also been responsible for running a crap game in Revere, although by 1961 the crap game had been discontinued. 



Nina:

 

Umberto Albert “Keystone” Lepore was born December 4, 1910 to Giuseppe and Luisa Lepore. He was one of 7 kids. His parents were from Castel di Tora, Lazio. Albert too was notorious for motor vehicle violations. Santino Ruggiero and he were arrested in 1933 after a long chase and charged with assaulting a policeman. He was arrested for a payroll robbery in July of 1933 for the Arkwright Mills heist the previous December.  This was not the first payroll robbery he was accused of. In 1932 he was a suspect in a $12,000 heist at a printing company. His relationship with Raymond went back to at least the 1930s. In 1935 he was arrested for another armed robbery. Three years later he was hit with gambling charges. Then in 1946 Albert was charged with a 1931 assault. He paid a fine of $25 and moved on. And of course he too was barred from the race track in 1959. By March of ‘63, he was back at the track. This time he won $42,429, but the IRS had other ideas, and confiscated most of it. Delinquent taxes had haunted him for years. He left the track with $1293 in his pocket. Wonder how much he blew laying bets that day.



Lara:

 

Giuseppe Joseph “Blondy” Simonelli alias Luigi Russo was born on May 4, 1904 in Minturno, Lazio, Italy. He arrived in the US in 1920. On the ship manifest his mother Concetta is listed as his relative back in Minturno. His record ranged from gambling, to illegal weapons possession and he was listed as a public enemy along with many of his cohorts. In August of 1952 he lost his horse trainer and owners license because he lied on his application in 1949 when he stated that he wasn’t a felon. Upon investigation they found that he had 6 prior arrests and three prior convictions at the time that he submitted the application. Most were bookmaking charges. Later in ‘52 he was banned from all race tracks in the state of RI. But by 1970 he was back at the track after being named as a liaison between the jockeys and management at Narragansett Park.

 

Now for our favorite, Pinky!



Nina:

 

Named after his grandfather who was from Bari, Cosmo “Pinky” Panarelli was born on April 1, 1920 in Worcester. Another one who seems relatively normal initially. Got married in 1939, and is living with his in-laws in the 1940 census. He enlisted in the Army in 1943 and served until the end of the War. 

 

Most of Pinky’s arrests involved drunk driving, traffic violations like speeding and running stop signs, and various gambling charges. Seemingly petty stuff that never got him a jail sentence. The largest fine he paid was $1000 for registering bets in 1956. 

 

Pinky was responsible for the gambling and horse bets in Worcester up until 1961 when he was replaced by Carlo Mastratotoro. Apparently, people didn’t like Pinky and he chased them away. However, there don’t seem to have been any hard feelings over the change, and Pinky was still getting some cut from Carlo’s earnings, which totaled $84,000 in 1963. 



Lara:

 

In October 1964, the wiretap at Raymond’s picked up another beef. Jerry Angiulo alleged that Pinky owed him $4200. Pinky claimed that he’d brought up the debt to Jerry at Christmastime, and Jerry replied, “Never mind repaying it, it’s a Christmas present.”

 

Carlo was also apparently present when this interaction took place, and backed up Pinky’s story. Genovese Capo Sam Cufari also took Pinky’s side. Raymond was supposed to go to Worcester to settle the beef but it’s unclear if ever he did.

 

Shortly after that, a new Confidential Informant appeared on the FBI’s books in Boston: BS-942-C. Pinky Panarelli was promoted to the Top Echelon Informant Program in the latter half of 1968. The Feds used the information he provided to go after more prominent Mafia dons, including Angelo Bruno and Sam Giancana.

 

Between alienating people and yapping like an old woman, Jerry Angiulo did more damage to the LCN in Boston than just about anybody. We’re only a couple of episodes away until we get to cover the wire at Jerry’s.



Nina:

 

Before we move on to the next Coin-O-Matic guy, let’s talk about Pinky’s handler.

 

William J Welby was the son of Daniel J Welby and Mary Elizabeth Burke, both from Ireland. Daniel was a police officer for the Boston Police Department, and raised his family in Jamaica Plain. William served in the Marines during World War Two and ended his time in the service as a Corporal. He was just a few months younger than Rico, so I am guessing that he went back to school on the GI Bill and joined the FBI at about the same time that Rico and Condon did. His FBI career doesn’t seem to have been that distinctive or memorable except for one thing: Welby had two Top Echelon Informants that he was handling throughout the 1960s, one of whom was Pinky.



Lara:

 

Next is a lesser known visitor to the Coin-O-Matic, but we had to include it because of the madness of one of his stories.



Nina:

 

Warren V. Picillo was born on 6 February 1926 in Providence, Rhode Island to John Picillo of Naples, Italy and Beatrice Hawes of Halifax, Nova Scotia. He was one of five children. Warren owned the Red Barn Restaurant in Warwick, RI that nearly burnt down in February of 1954. In July of 1961 he was subpoenaed along with Raymond to testify before the McClellan Committee. He had been fined in April of that year for bookmaking. He owned the Hillroad Publishing Co based in Cranston at that time. 

 

In November of ‘63 he was picked up again for gambling charges. That case dragged on until January of 1966 when he was finally sentenced to 4 months and fined $2000. The following month while sitting in the Federal Pen in Danbury, CT he was indicted along with over a dozen others on charges stemming from an FBI gambling sting operation, which sounds like Pinky’s work. Released from prison in the spring and free on bail, he was arrested in October again on illegal gambling charges after the Feds raided a gambling operation in Cranston.  

 

But my favorite story was from October of 1976. The headline read “Terror of Piggy Lane Ends with a Bang in RI” Neighbors claimed that Picollo’s 400 plus pigs were roaming the woods surrounding his farm like packs of wild dogs. The neighbors claimed to be afraid to walk around outside. When the cops arrived they shot 10 of the pigs.



Lara:

 

Moving on from Piggy Lane… Domenic John Biafore, alias John T. Lopez and Terry Morelli, was born on November 29, 1916 in Chicago, IL to Giovanni Biafore and Caterina Lopez. Both of his parents were from San Giovanni, Fiore, Cosenza, Calabria, Italy. He got married in 1936, and his first wife died in 1960. He married again in Nevada on January 31, 1966. His arrests included gambling, receiving stolen property, burglary, robbery, larceny and illegal possession of firearms. He worked at the Riviera Hotel in Las Vegas until retiring. 

 

The most important thing about Biafore were his family connections. He was the brother-in-law of Frank "Butsey" Morelli, and Chicago mafia figure Max Inserra. We’ll be profiling Max in a future episode. Another brother-in-law, Cosmo Miletta, was arrested in a 1962 gambling raid in Providence. Next is another one of your favorites, Frank Ferrara.



Nina:

 

Francesco Frank “Chi Chi” Ferrara alias Frank Foster, Frank McDonald, Edward Benoit, Frank Barron was born on September 24, 1901.

 

Ferrara had a criminal career that dated back to 1917. He did a five-year bid at Sing-Sing for burglary in the 1920s. At Sing-Sing he was a model prisoner and became secretary of the Prisoners Mutual Welfare League. In 1931, Frank was found guilty of forgery in Massachusetts and sentenced to three to five years. Another three to five were added for a parole violation, since he wasn’t supposed to leave New York. But he was able to show that he hadn’t left New York and hadn’t committed the forgery, and was freed in 1932



Lara:

 

Ferrara became assistant to the Massachusetts Commissioner of Agriculture in January 1935. He held the $4200 a year position until April 1937, working as an auditor for the Massachusetts Milk Control Board. And they say Ukraine is corrupt! Sorry for my outburst. He was also employed for a year at the Suffolk County Courthouse.

 

That was a thing back then! When dad was on probation for his perjury spree in 1971, he was going to go to work at the courthouse, but his siblings wanted no part of him, so he ended up at the State House! Good old Massachusetts.



Nina:

 

And they talk about Chicago being corrupt back then.

 

But while Frank was still employed there, he was arrested in April 1938 for the armed robbery of two platinum and diamond rings worth $3000 from a Newton housewife. He was sentenced to eight to ten years in State Prison. Ten days later he was back in court and arraigned for violating a 1935 probationary sentence for larceny and forgery of Government checks. The judge revoked the suspension, adding another 3 years to the sentence. It was during this prison term that Ferrara and Patriarca became close. 

 

In March 1950, the police found more than $50,000 worth of clothing in his home and his garage in Malden. Most of it had come from a company in Cambridge that had recently been looted. The men tried to sell what was described as “a large quantity of men’s suits” to the manager of a Quincy Square clothing store. Instead of making a deal the manager called the cops.





Lara:

 

Ferrara was freed on $2000 bail, but was arrested again that July in connection with a jewelry theft in Richmond, Virginia. He and his accomplice were accused of stealing a bag of jewels from a hotel there. The two men were arrested at Logan when Frank was picking up his friend who had just flown in. The other man had a briefcase filled with jewels, which the cops alleged belonged to a jewelry salesman who had checked his bag at a hotel in Richmond over the weekend. When he returned to pick up the bag, he found two bricks and some crumpled up newspapers inside. The authorities couldn’t quite figure out how the men switched the bags out. 



Nina: 

 

I just always assume insurance fraud when I read these stories. The jewelry salesman was probably in on it. I mean, who leaves a case of jewels in a public place for days on end?

 

The following month, the charge of larceny was dismissed, but Ferrara was sentenced to 18 months in jail for receiving stolen goods. 

 

Then in March 1952, he was sentenced in the Southern District of New York to three years for attempting to sell counterfeit Belgian bonds. His defense attorney Julius Soble claimed that Ferrara didn’t know that they were counterfeit. Ferrara was sent to the Pen in Atlanta, and an additional four months were slapped on him for tax evasion in June 1953

 

Ferrara was back in court in February 1958, facing a conspiracy charge related to what was described as “an elaborate East Coast racing wire service”. Ferrara was described as one of the best wire men in the country



Lara:

 

Talk an endorsement!



Nina:

 

Frank was arrested again in Miami Beach in April 1959 in connection with 1958 robberies of Canadian banks in Montreal and Brockville, Ontario. The burglars had sawed into the bank vaults, and stolen more than $4 million, plus various jewels and other items in safety deposit boxes. The grand total was estimated to be closer to $10 million.  The authorities also alleged that he may have been part of an international clearinghouse for hot securities. Edward Browder was also arrested as part of the scheme. We mentioned Browder briefly last week in connection with Dominick Bartone’s arms smuggling activities.

 

Lara:

 

Frank pled innocent in July, but six months later he pled guilty to conspiracy to pledge, receive, and possess stolen securities and transportation of $30,000 worth of securities to Boston from New Haven, Connecticut. The first count carried a maximum sentence of 5 years and a $10,000 fine. The second count carried a maximum sentence of 10 years and another $10,000 fine. The following month, he was indicted in Maine for transporting $50,000 worth of stolen securities to Lewiston and selling them. Frank was sent to Leavenworth, but the following year, he was in the headlines again. This time the Senate Committee hearings on gambling were very interested in Frank’s wire service operations. The Committee hearings continued into 1963.



Nina:

 

I want to add one more detail that was noted in both the 302s and the Senate Committee Hearings. Frank was responsible for taking financial care of the wives when the men were incarcerated. He also allegedly paid for Fats Buccelli’s funeral. 



Lara:

 

Good old Fats!

 

Now that we’ve introduced most of the crew, let's talk about some of the crimes. Of course I want to start with one that involves Vinnie Teresa! Just to irritate myself.

 

In April of 1963, the home of the late president of Woolworth’s home in Falmouth was broken into while the widow was away in Florida. It was estimated that the value of the items stolen was somewhere around $100,000. The items taken included several pieces of jade. Good old Vinnie had the jade stashed in his home, and Raymond wanted in on it. Poor Henry Tameleo was delegated with the task of retrieving the jade from Vinnie’s home on the Cape. But the Feds were there. 



Nina:

 

Of course they were there. Vinnie told them to be there!



Lara:

 

I know that and you know that, but fucking Jerry didn’t know that and he berated Tameleo in front of Raymond claiming that he allowed himself to be tailed. Jerry went on to tell him that the Feds raided the home after he left Vinnie’s but that Vinnie managed to have his uncle sneak the jade out.



Nina:

 

Oh please!



Lara:

 

Tameleo became angry and explained that it was impossible that he was followed. He further explained that someone must have been listening to Vinnie’s calls. The argument got pretty heated. In the end Raymond layed another one of his jewels on them, “Forget the whole thing, it’s gone, there’s nothing we can do about it now.”

 

After Tameleo stormed out Raymond told Jerry that Tameleo was doing too much and that he was busier than 6 bosses. Bitterly Jerry quipped, “certainly he doesn’t have the experience in this field that we have.” He went on to further criticize him.



Nina:

 

Wait until Jerry’s episode when he’s trashing Raymond!

 

As for the jade, it was magically recovered in August and returned to the owner. SA Buck Weafer was there to oversee it. But how did no one suspect Vinnie?

 

 

Lara:

 

You’ve got me! 

 

Speaking of trash, in June of 1962 Raymond personally conducted the big investigation about who set fire to his dump. One unnamed man he accused denied it vehemently, but Raymond still threatened to bury him in the dump.

.

 

Nina:

 

I can’t!

 

In August of 1963 Raymond was recorded having a discussion with Denny Raimondi about an incident involving Louis the Fox. Denny pulled a gun on Louis when he went to Denny’s house to collect money from him. Denny explained that he only had it for protection. Denny was ordered to go with Rudy Sciarra to apologize to Louis. And Rudy was to explain to Louis that Raymond said he should accept Denny’s apology.



Lara:

 

But the chatter wasn’t just about who did what to whom. Raymond complained that the Kennedys were putting the limelight on “this“thing” to cover up for their other blunders around the country.



Nina:

 

I’d died to know what Raymond said after JFK was killed. But the Feds have refused to release the wiretap reports from that time period.



Lara:

 

The way they talked about each other, I can only imagine the disgusting things they had to say about JFK.

 

Nina:

 

No question about it. 

 

Now let’s get to the supposed Rembrandt that someone in Boston had. On July 13, 1962 an unnamed subject appeared at Raymond’s seeking to obtain a stolen Rembrandt. No one has ever been able to figure out what painting it actually was. But later in the year a fake Rembrandt was stolen from a stage set in New York. We both like to think that it showed up at the Coin-O-Matic!



Lara:

 

One of my favorite crimes from the wiretaps was the heist of 70 grand worth of Carter’s underwear! Harold Hannon had managed to pull that one off on September 10, 1963. He and another man stole the underwear from Akers Transportation, and of course Raymond was looking for his cut.





Nina:

 

It was all just so petty. Petty crimes and petty men who would sell each other out for any slight real or imagined.



Lara:

 

It’s true! Who didn’t greet them appropriately at some restaurant, or tip their hat, shake their hand and on and on.

 

My whole thing with the scene at the Coin-O was why were all of these guys going down there? I try to picture Carlo Gambino or Joe Bonnano with a parade of guys coming and going. It just doesn’t seem plausible that everyone would have access to the boss. There’s a hierarchy. Each Captain would have their crew. A crew member would go to their Captain. Then the Captain would go to the underboss or consigliere, who then if necessary would consult with the boss. But Raymond’s place was like Grand Central Station. Everybody and their mothers were in and out of there complaining about the most trivial of matters. And he and Jerry gossiped about everything and everyone. Constantly complaining that NY had to have a leak. All the while they were the leak!



Nina:

 

What is even more confusing is why something like the situation between Pinky and Jerry was allowed to drag on for nearly a year. Sam Cufari should have ended it early on. Instead the Feds landed themselves another Top Echelon Informant. And that wasn’t the only time that happened.



Lara:

 

More petty spats than a soap opera.

 

Next week we will be discussing the Family Feud on the Hill which led to the murders of more than half a dozen men and life sentences for many other innocent men on trumped up charges.

We hope you listen in! As always please share an episode, subscribe and review!



Nina and Lara:

 

BYE!