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Oct. 18, 2021

Moldy Loot - Fats Buccelli, Wimpy Bennett & the Brink's Money


The only money from the Brink's robbery ever recovered was found in June 1956. $57K of rotted and moldy cash wrapped in old newspapers was discovered behind a wall in an office on Tremont Street. Join us this week as we discuss how the Feds located the loot and what happened next. Lara also reveals how Edward Wimpy Bennett came by his nickname.

If you'd like to email Lara you can reach her at lara@doubledealpodcast.comand Nina can be contacted at nina@doubledealpodcast.com

You can find us on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.

Thank you for listening!

All the best,

Lara & Nina

Transcript

Lara:

 

Hi everyone! If you joined us the last few weeks, you’ll remember Fats Buccelli, Wimpy Bennett and the moldy loot found in a cooler. Today we’ll be talking about Fats and Wimpy’s life of crime up until their arrest in June of 1956, the case itself and what happened to Fats after his release. Nina, tell us a little about Fats.

 

Nina:

 

John Buccelli was born in Quincy September 9, 1918. It was a pain in the neck, but I found his birth certificate! His mother, Maria, seems to have died in childbirth or shortly thereafter, because in the 1920 census, one year old John is living with his widowed father, Isadore, and his older sister, who was just coming up on her third birthday. 

 

In February 1923 Isadore remarried a woman named Domenica. She had a young son of her own. They go on to have two daughters together.



Lara:

 

But then according to FBI reports he was born September 9, 1913. 

 

Nina:

 

You can’t trust the Feds. But I did find a draft card on him, and that one has his birth date listed as September 9, 1912. It’s definitely him. He was married in 1938 and his wife is listed as his contact person. He says he was working for the WPA. So maybe the Feds were going off of that information.

 

Lara: 

 

What about his criminal career?

 

Nina:

 

He’s allegedly locked up in Charles Street jail at the same time as Raymond Patriarca in 1938. The story goes that they became acquaintances there. But they didn’t become linked to one another in the mafia until about 1950.

 

In 1940 he was believed to have robbed the 500 Voters Club in Roxbury. He was indicted on 6 counts of armed robbery in that case, but he seemed to be wandering around the northeast unnoticed. 

 

In January of 1947 he was arrested along with James Piccini for running a dice game in Bidden, Maine.



Lara:

 

Why do we always have wiseguys in Maine?



Nina:

 

It makes no sense to me! But like you always say “all roads lead to Maine!” 

 

Maine didn’t know about the indictments, and they released him. When the prosecutors in the Brink’s case were trying to beat the clock on the Federal statute of limitations they convened a Grand Jury and Fats testified!



Lara:

 

How do you have a man with an open indictment testify and then let him go?



Nina:

 

Look, nothing in the Brink’s story makes any sense. Don’t get me started! So Fats was picked up again in April of ‘54 along with Philip J. Sanders of Queens, NY. They conned a shopkeeper out of $30,000 in a horse betting scheme. Fats was arrested while the shopkeeper was handing him $3600.



Lara:

 

This time the NYC police held him without bail until the BPD could question him. But once he was back in Boston, he was free to roam the streets once more. According to the 302s from the wiretap at Raymond’s office, Fats was a lieutenant under him, and was controlling illegal horse race betting, loan sharking and barboot games in the Boston area. Supposedly, Raymond would come to Boston in those days to collect his cut.  





Nina:

 

Do you buy that Fats had that much power?



Lara:

 

I think it’s exaggerated. I do believe he had that much pull in narcotics though, particularly heroin. He was later convicted in April of 1958 along with others from New York in a $20,000,000 drug trafficking ring.



Nina:

 

We will get back into Fats a little later. Do you want to start talking about the moldy loot?



Lara:

 

Before we get into the moldy loot let's give a little background on Wimpy. We will only be covering Wimpy up to the moldy loot arrest. There is so much to Wimpy’s story that we’ll be covering later in the season. Nina, what do you have to tell us about Wimpy?



Nina:

 

Edward Albert Bennett was born on January 1st, 1919 to William F. and Flora Bennett in Boston. He was the youngest of 8 kids. By 1940 he was living in the South End and running Pat’s Smoke Shop on Washington St. He enlisted in the Army on December 17, 1941. On July 29, 1942 Wimpy married Frances Weresko in Michigan. 



Lara:

 

You know we’re both related to Wimpy?!



Nina:

 

Distant cousins, but you’re the lucky winner of the family tree competition this time!




Lara:

 

I guess we should explain that we’re both genealogy junkies, and we have some geeky competition going to see which one of us is more closely related to random people. This was not one that I was hoping to win!



Nina:

 

Better you than me! But Wimpy was also a direct descendant of William Brewster! 



Lara:

 

Stop! 



Nina: 

 

Neither of us can lay claim to that ancestor, yet. But why was he called Wimpy?



Lara:

 

Back in those days White Castle was a popular burger place in Boston. Popeye was a popular cartoon and one of the characters was named Wellington Wimpy who would say, “I would gladly pay you Tuesday for a hamburger today.” Wimpy ate those damn steamed onion riddled burgers everyday, hence his nickname Wimpy! 



Nina:

 

Who knew!? 

 

I did a little digging because I wasn’t familiar with the comic. Wellington Wimpy was described as “a soft-spoken romantic, intelligent and educated, a lazy coward, a miser, and a glutton. He is a scam artist, and almost a tramp, but pretends to have high social status. Besides mooching hamburgers, he also picks up discarded cigars.”



Lara:

 

How apropos! What about Wimpy’s war service?

 

Nina:

 

Wimpy was a Private in the Air Corps, and was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross for his service. After he was discharged, he returned to Boston. How exactly Wimpy found himself entrenched in the Boston crime scene and eventually aligned with the McLaughlin brothers is unclear. But his older brothers were also involved in the rackets.



Lara:

 

I do know about the boosting! I remember overhearing the stories about Wimpy and his booster pants. I was little, and tried to imagine what the outfit looked like! This crazy combo of either oversized overalls or pants with some sort of bungee cord tied around his waist, so he could expand the size in order to tuck his stolen goodies into his pants.



Nina:

 

I can imagine it! 

 

You’ll recall from Episode 3 that Wimpy was held in contempt for refusing to testify at the Brinks Grand Jury in December of 1952. He was eventually released. He was in Charles St. Jail in 1949 along with Fats, but I couldn’t find what the case was or if they were co-defendants.



Lara:

 

Wimpy and Fats shared an office at 617 Tremont St in Boston. The name of the company was B & P Construction. Wimpy originally owned the building, but sold it to John Hyndio. We’ll get into Hyndio shortly. The office was remodeled the month before. Two events led up to the search. The first being the arrest of Jordan Perry.



Nina:

 

Oh, this is another one of those stories that makes me crazy! Jordan Perry and his many aliases: Robert Agara, George Gregorio, Allan Gregory, Francis F. Mearney, Thomas Ballou and David Zalafsky, just to name a few. Back in 1953 Perry was picked up for passing bad checks in Toledo. 

 

He was sent to Lewisburg, PA -- Gus was locked up there at the same time. He was paroled in July ‘55, but a warrant had been issued for his arrest again in January ‘56 because he was a suspect in a $7500 payroll holdup.

 

The other odd thing about the story is that a man named Thomas Ballou was picked up in May 1956 for harboring Richardson and Flaherty. The two men were holed up in a Dorchester apartment, trying to avoid the Brink’s trial. That story is coming up in a few weeks. 



Lara:

 

On June 3, 1956 Perry was picked up in Baltimore when he passed a sticky and suspicious looking $10 bill. The owner of the arcade called the police who showed up to find Perry still there. After searching Perry and his hotel room, the Baltimore PD found $4635 and was identified by the serial numbers to be from the Brink’s heist. Perry first told the police that he found the money in the foundation of a house he was repairing in South Boston.



Nina:

 

But he soon changed his story and told the authorities that Fats and Wimpy gave him the money and told him to go spend it. During questioning Perry told the Feds that he was in business with Fats and Wimpy. He stated that on the evening of June 1st Fats asked him to rip a panel from a section of the wall in the office; and when the panel was removed, “Fats reached in and removed the cover from a metal container. Inside this were packages of bills which had been wrapped in plastic and newspapers. Fats told Perry each package contained $5,000. 

“This is good money,” he said, “but you can’t pass it around here in Boston.”

 

Lara:

Perry claimed that Fats told him the money was from a swindle, and offered to pay him $5,000 if he would pass out $30,000 of the bills. He told the FBI  that he accepted Fats’ offer, took $1000 up front and saw another 6 packages placed in Wimpy’s briefcase. On June 2nd, he left Massachusetts with $4,750 of these bills and began spending the money.

 

Nina:

But before Perry went on his spending spree, he claimed that he and Wimpy left the Tremont St. office and headed back to Wimpy’s house in Weymouth. He said he had known Wimpy for 9 years and met him when he rented an apartment from him at 617 Tremont St. They counted the money at Wimpy’s but out of the $30,000 only $4750 wasn’t destroyed by mold. Wimpy put the moldy money back in his bag and drove Perry back to Boston.

 

 

 

Lara:

The next morning Perry hopped a train to New York. He got off at Grand Central Station, took a cab to La Guardia airport but there was no flight to Philadelphia, so he took another cab to Newark. There he got a flight to Philly and a taxi from the airport in Philly to the Broadway Hotel. The next day he went to the railsation in Philly and took a train to Baltimore. First he took a cab to the YMCA but they had no rooms, so he checked into the Emerson hotel.

 

Nina:

Planes, trains, and automobiles. And violating your parole. Does that make any sense to you?

 

Lara:

The entire story makes no sense. I could see if he told Perry to go buy gold or something that could be sold to recoup some of the money. But what the hell can you hock from an arcade? What would be the point? They would have been better off burning it, Why take the risk?

 

Nina:

Exactly! What would Fats and Wimpy benefit from that? And how was it that the money Perry had in his possession was “normal”, but all of the money they found in the wall was rotted and covered in mold, sand and bugs?

 

Lara:

I have no clue, but this information came from the initial questioning of Perry by SAs McNamara, O’Brien, Martin and BPD Captain Wilson.

 

Nina:

 

The following day on June 4th a CI who we only know as T-1 informed SA Weafer that he could find some of the money from the Brink’s heist at 617 Tremont St. A search warrant was issued by Judge Elijah Adlow. Warrants were also issued to search a poolroom owned by Wimpy’s brother, Walter, Wimpy’s Weymouth residence and Fats’ Brookline apartment. SAs Rico and Briick questioned Wimpy and remained with him until detective Egan of the BPD arrived with a search warrant.





Lara:

 

SA Kehoe, while being observed by Rico, Briick and Hargett removed a 4’ x 8’ wall panel in Buccelli’s office, and found a cooler containing $57,732.  All of the money had been wrapped in newspapers published in Boston between December 4, 1955, and February 21, 1956. The other searches were a flop. Wimpy was arrested on the spot. Wimpy was brought to the DA’s office and questioned by SAs Frisoli, Larkin and Kehoe. He denied any knowledge of the money found on Perry



Nina:

 

In the meantime Fats was under surveillance by SAs Boland, Giard and Kane. While he was dropping one of his sons at 16 Tremont St. BPD Detective Thomas Barry approached him and asked him to come with him.  SAs Giard and Kane accompanied them to the DA’s office. Buccelli was questioned by SAs Larkin, Frisoli and Kehoe. During the interview he admitted to knowing Anthony Pino as they were in jail together, but denied knowing anything about the money found in the office.



Lara:

 

They were all indicted the following day for accessory, receiving and possession of stolen property. Fats and Wimpy were held on $100,000 double surety, Perry was held without bail.



Nina:

 

Probably because he was in violation of his parole! The Feds found the carpenter who remodeled the office. The carpenter’s records showed that he remodeled the offices in April of 1956 per Fats’ specifications. The conclusion was that the moldy loot couldn’t have been hidden behind the wall panel prior to April. 



Lara:

 

On June 5th, the Grand Jury returned a 22 count indictment containing 66 counts against Fats and Wimpy. The same day, SA Kehoe and BPD Detective Cornelius Fizpatrick Interviewed John Hyndio who purchased the building from Wimpy on November 9, 1955.






Nina:

 

Hyndio told them that on February 11,1956 he leased the basement offices to Buccelli for $100 a month. Shortly after that Fats approached Hyndio and told him he wanted to remodel the offices and asked if he knew someone. Hyndio recommended someone named Jerry who gave Fats an estimate of $90 for the labor. Fats told Hyndio what he wanted and Hyndio procured the materials.The materials were received on March 29th, and the work was completed on April 4th. Buccelli paid $90 for the labor and $96.46 for the materials all in cash.



Lara:

 

As for Hyndio himself, there isn’t much out there about him except for the property records and an article from ‘77 about his grocery store closing. Big John as he was called was heading back home to St Clair, Pennsylvania.



Nina:

 

That was a strange situation. Neither of us could find a birth record, census, birth certificate or death certificate. In the FBI report, his birthdate was listed as March 7, 1908. It’s like he didn’t exist before coming to Boston supposedly in 1944, and he doesn’t exist after. And there’s nobody else in the entire United States before or since with his last name. Also he was listed as operating a toy store out of the 617 Tremont St location, but Perry said that the toys belonged to Fats. I personally think it was a deep cover.  Which government agency he was working for is probably something else we will never know.



Lara:

 

No shortage of mysteries in this story. The only records of him are the residence listings from Boston. In 1962, 63 and 64 a woman showed up at his Dedham St address.She was listed as Catherine Hyndio, widow of Samuel. Then poof she was gone. No other records. 

 

Let me get back to the carpenter. Gerald Lavoie was interviewed on June 6th, and his statement lined up with Hyndio’s. Lavoie did state that he thought Bennett had nothing to do with the office or the remodel work. Wimpy was there several times while he was working, but the only conversation was Lavoie asking what he thought of the work, and Wimpy’s response of “OK.”

 

Nina:

 

Then the Feds went to Paine’s Furniture to inquire about purchases made by Fats.



Lara:

 

Oh I miss Paine’s! I had an emerald green chaise longue from there, gorgeous.



Nina:

 

No one cares about your furniture memories!



Lara:

 

Ok, ok. What did they find?



Nina:

 

Roughly $1200 worth of furniture, but most of it was for his girlfriend Joyce. Except for a bachelor's chest for the office.



Lara:

 

On June 7th the Grand jury returned an additional 48 indictments against Wimpy, Fats and Perry. Wimpy and Fats were charged with receiving $55,000 and Perry of receiving $30,000. All three were indicted on conspiracy to receive stolen goods. Fats and Wimpy were arraigned on June 8th. Perry was returned to Boston and arraigned on June 20th.



Nina:

 

Don’t forget about the $500 bill story!



Lara:

 

Actually, I did forget! Perry said that on May 30th Buccelli gave Perry a $500 bill to break for him.  Perry approached Mario Mastrototaro to make change for him. Mario went to the Union Park Spa, my old neighborhood, and asked the owner, James Moses, to take the $500 bill off his hands. James asked his wife to go to the bank with the bill. Badia Moses deposited the money in her personal account and James passed it off to Mario and Perry.




Nina:

 

SA McNamara questioned the Moses and the bank manager. The bank was still in possession of the bill and it was checked against the Brink’s loot and all other robberies. Another flop. The bill was clean. And surprise, surprise the fingerprints that were taken from the cooler, newspapers and money also came up blank.



Lara:

 

While the investigation was continuing the judge decided to split up the suspects. Wimpy was sent to Springfield, Fats to New Bedford, and Perry was at East Cambridge.



Nina:

 

All three were convicted. Wimpy was sentenced to one year in Deer Island, Fats was sentenced to 2 years and Perry was sentenced to two 1 year concurrent sentences at the Middlesex county house of corrections

 

But in May of 1957 Fats and Wimpy were cleared of being accessories after the fact. Later that year Fats dropped a lawsuit against the Alert Trading Company. He was suing for unpaid commissions on coal sales he had made in NYC.



Lara:

 

While Fats was serving his sentence and suing his former employer, he was indicted along with 14 others on narcotics charges. As we mentioned earlier He was believed to be part of a $20,00,000 drug smuggling ring based out of NY. One of his fellow co-conspirators was Moffie the Miner! Joseph Moffie will have his own episode later in the season. 



Nina:

 

Buccelli was sentenced to five years on April 25, 1958. This was just shortly after his release from Deer Island. He was allowed to remain out on bail pending his appeal. But on June 19th Fats was found dead in his car on Tremont St. He had been shot twice in the back of head at close range. The authorities thought that it was someone sitting behind him in the car. His death was listed as the 8th fatality linked to the Brink’s heist.

Lara:

 

And that’s where we are going to leave you today! If you want to find out more about Fats’ murder you’re going to have to continue listening to future episodes. Next week we will be our first episode about dad, the central person of this podcast. Maybe you’ll hear more about Fats.



Nina:

 

Hey, Fats was killed on Richie’s birthday! What is it with you guys and crimes on your birthdays?



Lara:

 

You’ve got me! You already asked me last week! Well thank you all for listening! If you like our shows, please share them with your friends and on social media!



Nina and Lara:

 

Bye!



https://www.newspapers.com/clip/86327652/tommy-callahan-arrested-11-june-1956/

https://www.newspapers.com/clip/86320266/jordan-perry-arrested-again-26-july-195/

https://www.newspapers.com/clip/78400869/58-arrest-perry/

https://www.newspapers.com/clip/86321225/perry-arrested-on-gun-charge-in-providen/

https://www.newspapers.com/clip/86321429/perry-held-for-housebreaks-27-april-196/

https://www.newspapers.com/clip/86321727/perry-arraigned-8-may-1964/

https://www.newspapers.com/clip/86321827/waltham-break-perry-1-aug-1968/

https://www.newspapers.com/clip/86321942/perry-car-chase-1-dec-1975/

https://www.newspapers.com/clip/86322034/perry-11-year-probation-31-march-1976/

https://www.newspapers.com/clip/86322134/obituary-for-perry-perry/

 

https://www.newspapers.com/clip/78179621/buccelli-slain-near-area-where-brinks/

 

https://www.newspapers.com/clip/78182755/wimpy-buccelli-5-june-1956/

 

https://www.newspapers.com/clip/85728322/bennett-buccelli-cleared-as/

 

https://www.newspapers.com/clip/78243053/buccelli-8th-man-to-die-since-brinks/



https://www.newspapers.com/clip/78243476/buccelli-murdered-19-june-1958/

 

https://www.newspapers.com/clip/75541011/the-boston-globe/

 

https://www.newspapers.com/clip/76436947/the-boston-globe/

 

https://www.newspapers.com/clip/76107333/the-boston-globe/

 

https://www.newspapers.com/clip/76434494/dayton-daily-news/

 

https://www.newspapers.com/clip/76435430/the-boston-globe/

 

https://www.newspapers.com/clip/76434882/the-boston-globe/

 

https://www.newspapers.com/clip/76435469/the-boston-globe/

 

https://www.newspapers.com/image/433620936/?terms=%22John%20Buccelli%22&match=1

 

https://www.newspapers.com/image/451179655/?terms=%22John%20Buccelli%22&match=1