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Dec. 13, 2021

Plymouth, More Than Just a Rock - The Planning of the Plymouth Mail Robbery


Still considered unsolved, the Plymouth Mail Robbery was the largest cash heist of all time when it was carried out in 1962. Jack "Red" Kelley was producer, architect, director, and the lead in its performance. We take you behind the scenes to see how Jack and his Dream Team came together to plan and organize the heist.

Episode 1 - Jack Kelley

Episode 4 - Roy Appleton

Episode 5 - Carmello Merlino & Sonny Diaferio

Episode 8 & 10 - Richard Chicofsky (Tommy Richards can be found in episode 10)

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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! The past 4 episodes have been a trip down memory lane. But today we are back in 1962. This episode we’ll be discussing the planning of the Plymouth Mail Robbery. My late father spent 2 years working with Ernest Tidyman on the book Big Bucks - The True Outrageous Story of the Plymouth Mail Robbery. Ernest lived in Washington, CT in the old Hammond Organ estate. It was spectacular. Often on the weekends, school breaks and in the summer, I would make the trip down there with dad. While they were busy drinking and chatting, I would be off in the pool, weather permitting, or lingering in a corner somewhere, but always in earshot of dad’s stories. Occasionally dad would drag some of the guys to Ernest’s house. The Oscar that Ernest won for writing the screenplay for the French Connection was always a hit with them. It was the centerpiece of many a photo op. A few even contemplated stealing it, but they abandoned that idea.



Nina:

 

I bet that was hilarious!



Lara:

 

Oh it was!

 

There was reserved Ernest, surrounded by a bunch of wiseguys. He seemed to find it all amusing and took it all in stride. The stories that we’re going to be telling you about the mail robbery are the stories that I heard first hand. As Ernest stated in the opening of the book, he believed the man who told him the tale to be one of the participants in the heist. That man being dad. I too believe his version of events to be true, and I wouldn’t always say that about many of dad’s stories. I knew two other men who also participated in the heist, Roy Appleton and Carmello Merlino, both of whom we introduced in previous episodes. 



Nina:

 

That’s why we introduced them prior to this along with Sonny Diaferio and Tommy Richards. But in case some of our listeners today haven’t heard those episodes yet, we will be giving a little background info on each of the participants. If you go to the transcript page for this episode on our website you can find links to those episodes and also profiles for each of them.

Lara:

 

The profile pages are a work in progress, so be patient with us please! The links to those episodes are also in today’s show notes.

 

In those episodes we covered more than a few prior robberies of theirs, and ones we suspected Jack of in order to give you an idea of how he operated, his experiences, and how this dream team of sorts came to be.



Nina:

 

We have spent a great deal of time collecting documents and newspaper articles to verify Richie’s story. Just as Ernest Tidyman tried to obtain information from the Postal Inspection Service, we also did and were denied. At the time of Ernest’s request in 1979 there were 25 four drawer filing cabinets filled with documents. C. Neil Benson wrote to Ernest:

 

“After careful consideration of your request, I have concluded that I cannot responsibly comply…. To allow unrestricted access to the records would involve a violation of personal privacy to a degree I regard as impermissible. I am also concerned with the physical safety of people who furnished information during this investigation.”

 

Ernest also contacted the other law enforcement agencies involved in the investigation. The Massachusetts State Police were cooperative, but their information was limited. The FBI stated they would answer specific questions but as the statute of limitations had run out, the records were most likely eliminated. The Boston Police Department also had little information as the crime occurred outside of the city limits. They had only acted as support when looking for suspects believed to be within the city limits.



Lara:

 

When I submitted a Freedom of Information Act request to the Postals, I was told all of the records had been destroyed. Luckily for us, many of the FBI documents regarding Jack Kelley, Dad, Mello, Sonny, Roy and Tommy, were part of the documents released with the JFK assassination papers. 

 

In those records were also reports from one of the Postal Inspectors, Frank Jencunas, who was assigned to trailing dad, Jack, and Pro Lerner as suspects in the Plymouth Mail robbery and other holdups. 

 

You might ask why their FBI 302s were included in the JFK assassination papers. The story I always heard was that the CIA approached Jack Kelley to kill Fidel Castro. They wanted Jack to use his crew including Pro to take him out. Vinny Teresa wrote in his book that the CIA approached Raymond Patriarca for the hit and Raymond picked Pro. In John Partington’s book The Mob and Me, he stated Jack Kelley told him the CIA approached him. That makes more sense, especially considering when Jack and Pro met. We’ll get deeper into that when we profile Pro Lerner in a few more episodes.



Nina:

 

That’ll be an interesting and sometimes comical episode. 



Lara:

 

Hustling college kids in pool halls and TV sets stolen from cheap motel rooms!



Nina:

 

Priceless!

 

No more clues for what’s in that episode! I think we should give our listeners a brief summary of who Jack Kelley was. This might be the first time people are joining us. 



Lara:

 

I agree with you. As we introduce each crew member we’ll provide their backstory. Nina, I’ll let you start with Jack.



Nina:

 

Jack was born John J. Kelley in Watertown, Massachusetts in 1914. His older brother, James, worked for the JM Forbes Company from 1929 to 1973, climbing the ladder from stenographer to accountant. Jack’s career was a little more varied, shall we say. He worked for his stepfather, a building supply manufacturer, for a while, but eventually moved into the used car business. And at some point he became a purveyor of religious statuary. One of many side gigs he had going.

 

It’s a little unclear when and how Jack got into armed robbery. I have my own theories, of course, but by the time of the Plymouth Mail Robbery, Jack was 48 years old and had been operating for nearly three decades. He didn’t rob for the money. It was the mental challenge he enjoyed. The plotting, the planning, the job itself, and then the game with the investigators afterward.



Lara:

 

I want to cover a few of Jack’s prior heists. The order isn’t important, but rather the MO.  In August of 1949 an unlocked armored car in Brookline was hijacked and robbed as the guards were making a collection. At first the police thought only $15,000 had been taken, but later it was discovered that $40,000 was taken from the truck.  After hijacking the truck, the robbers drove to a secluded area and transferred the bags of money from the truck to a sedan. The local police chief called the robbery “well planned and carried out with a maximum of efficiency.” 



Nina:

 

In July of ‘51 Jack and his partner, Billie Aggie, held up the National Bank in Somerville for $33,000. The holdup occurred just as the bank was opening on a Friday morning. Morning robberies were common for Jack.  Dressed as policemen, the men wore masks and were armed with submachine guns.

 

Lara:

Let’s also cover the robbery that ended up landing Jack in prison. On April 1, 1954, the Harvard Trust Company in Belmont was robbed mid-morning. Nearly $15,000 was taken. They were in the bank for less than one minute. But Jack and his crew made a few mistakes this time. First, one of the robbers left a set of fingerprints. Then another fell in the mud when escaping and lost his hat. Eventually a trip to the racetrack with Billie Aggie would bring Jack’s two decade lucky streak to a grinding halt. 

Let’s get into how the Plymouth Mail Truck score landed in Jack’s lap!. 



Nina: 

 

It was just after Memorial Day weekend 1962 when Jack was approached by John Makris, a journalist who also wrote books about crime. Only a few years apart in age, and both Watertown natives, the two men had known each other for a long time. Makris met Jack at a diner in Watertown. If you wanted to find Jack, a diner would have been the place to go. 



Lara: 

 

Makris had been a crime reporter for the Boston Traveller and a feature writer for the Boston Sunday Globe and a book reviewer for the Boston Herald. He made a connection with the Postal Inspection Service five years prior while working on a book. ‘The Silent Investigators’ was published in 1959. Makris had two more books in the works about the Postals. At the time of the Mail Truck Heist, he was covering stories out of the main postal annex in Boston. Articles mostly about people mailing smut, forging postal money orders and sending assorted contraband. None of this was of any interest to Jack, but the information that Makris delivered on that day was of great interest to him. A decision had been made to transport the money that tourists blew on Cape Cod during the summer by mail trucks rather than armored trucks in an effort to save money. This was music to Jack’s ears.



Nina:

 

Makris sat across from Jack watching him eat a gooey piece of chocolate cake. No one could understand how Jack survived on the steady stream of raisin glazed ham, beef stew, and other diner crap, but his body and mind seemed to thrive off of it. The man with a photographic memory defied all logic and reason. Makris explained in detail the conversation he’d had that morning. The small banks on the Cape were going to be shipping the money to the Federal Reserve in Boston via postal trucks rather than armored trucks.



Lara:

 

Jack had already been contemplating robbing one of the armored transports coming from the Cape. He liked robbing armored cars and had been quite adept at it over the three decades that he had been doing it. Jack preferred to take a truck or bank in crowded cities. Areas that were too open were more difficult to control, and he knew that the trucks coming from the Cape had a State Police escort, so he had shelved the idea. 



Nina:

 

Makris explained to Jack that the money was going to be transported in vans with only two postal guys. Jack questioned him about how much one of these trucks would be hauling. Makris told him that each haul would be anywhere between $1 and $2 million, mostly in singles, fives and tens. Jack could care less if it was all in coins. The money would be untraceable. It was the perfect score. Makris knew Jack would honor their deal and give him his cut, so all he had to do was sit back and wait.



Lara:

 

Jack knew exactly who and what he needed to pull off  the heist. The first person he contacted was Harold “Roy” Apppleton. If you listened to episode 4 you will remember that Roy was running car loan scams in the mid 1950s. The title of that episode was ‘Conman to Armorer’. Now we’re getting to the armorer part. 

 

Jack called Roy on his dedicated landline, one of a half a dozen phone lines installed in his home. Jack told Roy to meet him at their usual spot.



Nina:

 

Jack had gotten to know Roy when they were in prison together in the late 50s. Jack was in for the Harvard Trust job that had gone wrong. It was his only stint in prison, and he vowed he’d never go back. 

 

Roy was not in for armed robbery but rather white collar crime. He had two different schemes running at the used car lot he owned and operated in Brockton. 

 

In one case, Roy sold a car to a young man. The man took out a loan to finance the purchase, then turned around and sold the same car to another dealership. But the catch was that he told the second dealership that he owned the car free and clear. In the end, the second dealership had to pay for the car twice because they were on the hook for the loan.



Lara:

 

In the second scam, Roy would create a sales slip for a vehicle that did not exist. The customer who purchased the non-existent car was a real person, though. But they didn’t know they’d bought a fake car. Then Roy would write up a loan for say $2500 for the phantom vehicle. He would then sell the loan to a local finance company at a discounted rate. His contact at the finance company was also in on the scam. The individual whose name was on the loan would get a loan payment book in the mail, but no car to enjoy with it. Roy’s business name and address would be in the loan book. The understandably angry person would go to Roy to try to figure out how they’d been saddled with a $2500 loan but no vehicle. Roy would take the loan book with the fake loan, and tell the person with no car he’d take care of it. But, of course, he never did take care of it.

 

The authorities finally caught up to him in 1954. The trial began in November that year. He was charged with 66 counts of fraud.There were a whopping 45 witnesses who testified against him. The total dollar amount was just over $114,000 that he had taken in fake car loans.

 

Roy eventually plead guilty to larceny and forgery. He was sentenced to 5 to 9 years on January 7, 1955. 

 

Nina, let’s get back to Jack and Roy’s meeting.




Nina:

 

Jack and Roy met in a small bar in Waltham, MA. I can’t believe you made me say it again. 



Lara:

 

And you said it perfectly! You’ll be speaking like a Bostonian in no time!



Nina: 

 

Great! Every girl’s fantasy. 



Lara:

 

Oh, you suffer from Boston envy!



Nina:

 

Yeah ok! Enough with the Boston stuff!

 

They weren’t in the bar for a drink. Jack didn’t drink and preferred the men in his crew do the same. He allowed for a lapse here and there, unlike the gambling. If you listened to our first episode, you might recall that we stated that Jack was adamant that no one in his crew gambled and never did himself. But in Jack's very early days, he was a gambler. He quickly learned that being a gambler would only lead him and others to a jail cell. 



Lara:

 

Other than Sonny and Mello, he didn’t have to worry too much about gambling amongst his men. Roy, Tommy and dad couldn’t be bothered with it. 



Nina:

 

Jack told Roy that he had a score lined up and needed equipment. Roy was given a list: 6 submachine guns, 6 pistols, 6 of everything for the 6 men who would make up the team. Roy would collect the weapons and ammunition, then test and modify each piece to Jack’s specifications.  Tall, slim, hooded-eyed, chain-smoking Roy assured Jack that he would fulfill his shopping list. 

 

Lara:

 

Roy would travel as far as New York and Pennsylvania to procure the items on his shopping list. There was no need to steal any of the weapons as he had a network of illegal suppliers to rely on. The 6 Sten guns and 6 9mm Lamas were collected from a Brooklyn apartment. To give dad something to do, Roy, Jack and dad made the journey together. The Sten guns, submachine guns, were easily broken down into small components and were toted out of the apartment in two double paper shopping bags covered in newspapers and topped with carrots.

 

Once Roy had the weapons he would test each one and modify them as needed. He would fire each weapon into logs that he would later burn and discard the melted slugs into a lake or river leaving nothing that could be traced back to them. The man who learned all of his skills from his endless stacks of books and magazines was Jack’s master armorer.



Nina:

 

Next on Jack’s list were Santo “Sonny” Diaferio and Carmello “Mello” Merlino. We introduced them both in episode 5. They were childhood friends and partners in crime since their early teens. 

 

In November of 1949, 18 year old Sonny and 15 year old Mello were arrested along with two others. They stole a car from Watertown which they used for a B&E in Roslindale where they stole a safe from the Granville Club. 

 

BPD officers spotted them cruising down the Jamaica Way with something sticking out of the trunk. The officers called in the plate number and were told the vehicle had been reported stolen.  The BPD pursued the boys at 90 miles an hour through the streets of Jamaica Plain before they crashed into a stone wall near the Washington St MBTA station. A 500 lb safe was found in the car with $800 cash, $250 in checks and documents in it. 

 

Sonny and another boy were arrested at the scene. Mello fled on foot, but his mother turned him in the next morning. A fourth boy who also fled on foot, was picked up a couple of days later. Mello, since he was underaged, was released to his mother. Sonny and the others were held on $10,000 bail.



Lara:

 

Sonny and Mello branched out on their own for a while after that incident. Mello’s first conviction was the following year in April. He and two other boys were sentenced to five years and a month in the Concord Reformatory. At the age of 16, Mello was already labeled a “notorious thief.” If the judge only knew how true his words were. 

 

Nina:

 

Some people are just born bad.



Lara:

 

You sure do love that Ruddy Giuliani quote!



Nina:

 

Well, I think in Mello’s case it was quite apropos. 

 

Sonny was sentenced to 18 months for the safe robbery in late 1949, but didn’t stay out of trouble for long. He was picked up for a b&e in October of 1951, but it appears he managed to beat that case. Then on June 10, 1954 he was picked up for the Pepper Theft. He and William Cavanaugh robbed the Western Waterproofing Company of $4500 not with a gun but with a pepper shaker!



Lara:

 

But being in Charles Street Jail didn’t keep him from finding more trouble. In September that year, Sonny was charged with helping Elmer “Trigger” Burke escape from the jail. In the meantime Mello too was up to his old tricks. In January of that year, he committed a payroll robbery of the Western Coal Company in Dorchester.  Then in March, Mello was pinched for robbing a Howard Johnson’s in Dorchester and a b&e at a lawyer’s house in Roxbury. He was sloppy and left his fingerprints behind at both locations. And landed himself back in prison. First Charles St, then a return trip to Concord.



Nina:

 

And that’s more or less how Jack got to know Sonny and Mello. Along with Richie and Roy.



Lara:

 

Yes, Jack had met Sonny and Mello both, during his prison stint and had become a mentor to both of them. Jack managed to keep them both out of trouble in prison, and saw their potential even back then. The quality of being able to instill fear and terror were necessary when robbing armored cars and banks, a quality that both Sonny and Mello most certainly possessed. Jack spent time in prison cultivating them. No more fighting fellow convicts. Following the prison rules and going to church won them both early parole. Jack himself spent the last part of his 22 month stretch in prison as a chaplain’s assistant in the Plymouth area at one of the camps that were adjuncts to the Massachusetts State Prison system. Jack’s rules continued for both of them on the street. Mello and Sonny didn’t rebel much, as it put money in their pockets and kept them on the street instead of in a prison cell. 



Nina:

 

Jack met them both at the Texaco station and tire shop on Huntington Ave in Boston that Sonny and Mello were partners in, Mello’s Texaco and Tire. Neither of them looked like they should be running a gas station and mechanic shop. Both were of medium stature, possessed Mediterranean good looks, and liked to dress well. Sonny ran the gas station and Mello the tire and mechanic shop. Mello would continue operating an auto shop whenever free. The most memorable of which was TRC in Dorchester. Anyone who has followed the Gardner Art Heist will recall TRC as Mello’s base of operations until his final prison stint in 1999. 



Lara:

 

Sonny and Mello were both anxious to know what their latest score was. Jack told them they were going to take a mail truck traveling from the Cape to the Federal Reserve in Boston. Details weren’t given and Mello was sure it was a worthless endeavor, but Sonny convinced him to be patient and wait for Jack to reveal his plans. 

 

The next crew member that Jack had to track down was dad. Being the hedonist that he was, it wouldn’t be as easy to find Richie as it had been Roy, Sonny, and Mello.



Nina:

 

The first place Jack tried was Richie’s apartment on the Jamaica Way, but since his entire family lived together odds were if he was out carousing he would be in the small apartment he kept in Hyde Park. The typically Eastern European looking light brown haired, and pale blue eyed debauchee who was described by one holdup witness as pleasant looking but plump, wasn’t that hard to find. Jack tracked him down there sleeping off a night of endless food, booze, and women. He told Richie he had 5 minutes to get ready and be outside. Richie had the unique skill of being up and on in the blink of an eye. Alert as if he slept an 8 hour night. By the time he hit the sidewalk, Jack had pulled up and slid into the passenger's seat. Richie jumped in to take the wheel.




Lara:

 

Before we continue on about Dad and Jack’s journey, let’s give our listeners a brief description of dad’s criminal history up to this point. His first arrest was in March of 1957. He was picked up as an accessory before the fact for the DeSisto home invasion. Bobby Buccelli claimed that dad had offered him money the month before the home invasion to borrow his car. Dad did offer Bobby money for his car, but it was to deliver heroin not for the home invasion. Dad was sent to Concord and that is where he met Mello, Sonny, Roy and Jack. The following year dad was released from prison and on the same day Fats Buccelli, Bobby’s father, was killed. Dad was picked up and released for Fat’s murder as he was still incarcerated at the time Fats was killed.



Nina:

 

Richie committed his first armed robbery with Jack on Monday, November 20, 1961. Jack, Tommy and Richie had gained entrance to the Garden City Trust in Chestnut Hill by Mello driving the car up to the teller window. They climbed on top of the roof of the car and through an unlocked second floor window. They took down $70,000 in that score.



Lara:

 

The second score they did together was the Essex Trust Co. in West Lynn on March 30, 1962. Again it was Jack, Tommy and dad. Their timing was off. An armored car pickup had happened a few minutes before, so instead of getting $60,000 they ended up with only $28,000. As they fled the scene with dad behind the wheel, the cops were in pursuit. A total of 50 cruisers from 7 cities and towns were on their tail. Shots were being fired in both directions. They narrowly escaped by hijacking a laundry truck.



Nina:

 

Today, Richie was faced with a windshield covered in birdshit and torn newspaper. He knew not to open his mouth about it. Jack insisted that it be preserved that way when he was planning a score. Richie would have to jump out and put a new piece of newspaper on the windshield every time Jack spotted a new dropping. By this time Richie had grown used to Jack’s myriad of superstitions and had even begun to adopt some of them as his own. Richie asked where they were going. Jack told him to head to Waverly. Richie banged a u-turn and off they went. He didn’t ask why they were heading to Waverly. Maybe it was to check out a potential score or pick up a piece of antique furniture for Jack’s wife.





Lara:

 

Oh, I can’t. Richie never spoke ill of Jack, but he always complained that there wasn’t a chair in Jack’s house that you could sit on, that you wouldn’t be afraid that you’d fall through to the floor. 



Nina:

 

That does not surprise me in the least. That’s what you get for marrying a WASP. 



Lara:

 

No comment!



Nina:

 

Back to their journey!

 

As they headed along, Richie hoped for rain. At least he would be able to see through the damn windshield. In addition, he had to be on the lookout for any hearses and firetrucks. Driving down a road with a firetruck was forbidden. Allowing a hearse to cross their path was also banned. A quick u-turn was mandatory. Richie didn’t question it or Jack’s sanity, but he did question his own for following Jack’s rules.



Lara:

 

They finally arrived at their destination, a garage. Inside was a 6 month old gold Pontiac that had been stolen the month prior from a Revere street. There was a tarp under the vehicle to prevent any oil or fluids from dripping into the concrete and prevent any connection to Jack. Jack had been renting the garage to store their getaway vehicles for future heists. Dad opened the hood and was happy to see that the battery had been disconnected. He reconnected the battery, checked the fluids and started the vehicle. It sounded perfect. Next they had to go check out a pickup truck that Jack had stashed in another location.



Nina:

 

The next member of the crew that Jack needed to meet was Tommy Richards. Tommy was working for the electric company and living in Weymouth. His biggest value to Jack was his loyalty. That and his physical presence. Maybe not the brightest of the bunch, but the physical strength he possessed and the size of him was an asset to Jack and his crew.

 

Tommy was born Thomas R. Baghdadlian in 1925 in the Bronx to Mary and Richard. The family left New York in the late 20s first moving to Watertown, then to Quincy by the early 30s and later in 1940 to Weymouth where Richard owned a tailor shop called Dick’s. 

 

At the time of the World War 2 draft, Tommy was working at the Bethlehem-Hingham Shipyard. He enlisted in the Navy in late ‘43. When he got out of the service he briefly worked for Jack’s stepdad before taking the job with the electric company. He got married in ‘54, and sometime after he started using his middle name Richard as a surname eventually adding an S to the end. 



Lara:

 

As we already mentioned Tommy had a history with Jack and dad robbing banks, but Tommy was taking scores with Jack prior to Jack going to prison back in the 1950s. Tommy was also picked up for questioning when Billie Aggie was shot while riding a lawnmower during a police chase after he robbed a bank in Quincy shortly after Jack had gone to prison. 



Nina: 

 

Richie and Jack arrived at Tommy’s house around 10 pm. Richie rang the doorbell and Tommy invited him in. But Richie told him his friend wanted to see him. Tommy sat in the backseat while Richie strolled along Tommy’s neighborhood. Richie may not have been big on walking, but after a day behind the wheel with Jack he was happy to roam about. He didn’t take it personally that Jack wanted to speak to Tommy alone. It was just another one of Jack’s idiosyncrasies. 



Lara:

 

The discussion that took place in the car in part was about the fact that Tommy needed to obtain a dress. Not the first time that Jack would have one of his crew dressed in drag. When Jack robbed the Newton National Bank of more than $50,000 in 1950, his getaway driver was wearing rouge, lipstick, and a kerchief on his head. 

 

The second part of the discussion was about where they would store the proceeds from their mail truck adventure. When dad heard the car door close, he knew it was his signal to return to the vehicle. Once behind the wheel, Jack told dad that he was hungry and to head for his favorite diner in Watertown. The same diner he met Makris in. The same diner he could be found in almost daily. Despite the layer of chocolate cake fueled fat that covered Jack's frame, he was still quite muscular and rugged. How, no one knew. How dad was going to make it to Watertown from Weymouth at 10:15 in the evening before they closed their doors, he also didn’t know. But Jack didn’t care. Jack’s response was’ “just get there!” And that they did.



Nina:

 

With the crew selected, Roy's next task would be procuring the weapons, and all necessary materials. But Tommy finding a dress that would fit him would be more of a challenge, considering his 6 foot 1, 250 pound muscular frame, and less than feminine appearance. 

 

With the getaway vehicles stashed, the next step was to start surveilling the area. A Volkswagen Beetle was secured for this task. Sometimes Jack drove alone along the back roads from the Cape to Boston and along route 3. Other times Richie accompanied him and at others Tommy in his dress and a blonde wig. The wig was borrowed from Sonny’s wife Patricia who at the time of the robbery was still a natural brunette. Whenever the mail truck was transporting money, Jack and the Beetle were sure to follow. The mail truck would make its pickups in Hyannis and Buzzards Bay, proceed along Rte. 6 until Sagamore where they proceeded onto Rte. 3 towards Plymouth.



Lara:

 

The number of times I drove along that route with dad! Mind numbing! When he needed to think or plot and plan he would go up and down those damn roads and along the back through rte 28 and rte 18. I was little and couldn’t understand why we had to be on the same roads over and over again. I scanned license plates doing some bizarre mathematical equations or counting a particular color of the houses along the way when I was tired of reading. There are many things I miss about the old days, but those journeys aren’t on the list.



Nina:

 

Awww, come on, you didn’t realize at the time the significance of it. 



Lara:

 

Hey, I was just a little kid!



Nina:

 

Ok, back to Jack’s trailing of the truck. He would follow the truck all the way to the postal annex in Boston until it disappeared into the yard through the gates. He observed that the postals never deviated from their routine and both wore .38 caliber sidearms. 



Lara:

 

Jack not only studied robberies and heists, he studied law enforcement and the techniques they employed to solve them and catch the thieves. He read both fact and fiction in an effort to not make the same mistakes as those who were caught, himself included. Jack believed that most were caught because they were stupid and arrogant, and unaware how their enemy, in this case law enforcement, operated. Crimes that took too long to commit, and changing your behavior after the crime were one way tickets to jail. Diversionary tactics were also essential during the commission of a robbery. For instance a fire alarm going off or even another robbery or incident taking place on the other side of town. Or planning a robbery around a large event. The number of cops at such events would be almost a guarantee that they would be spread too thin to respond or notice a heist taking place. Jack never went in blind or without proper planning.



Nina:

 

Kind of like the Gardner Heist that took place on the evening of St Patrick’s Day!



Lara:

 

Well, technically the Gardner Heist took place on my birthday, but yes the St. Patty’s Day celebration was continuing well into the wee hours.



Nina:

 

Jack took his planning a step further. He wanted to know the difference between how the Feds, Staties, and locals operated. He had been questioned numerous times over the years by the Feds, so it was easy for him to surveil them. From the Sheraton Building he maintained surveillance of the Feds who were investigating robberies that he himself didn’t commit. Of particular interest to him was where the vehicles that the agents drove were stored. The agents’ vehicles were parked in a lot in Chinatown. The security at the lot was particularly lax. Jack believed that the Feds were too arrogant to think that anyone would risk stealing a government vehicle, so they didn’t bother securing the area properly. 



Lara:

 

And Jack took advantage of that. He recruited from the pool of car thieves that he paid well to steal cars that he used in his heists. It took a total of 10 minutes to secure one of the radio transmitter-receivers from one of the FBI vehicles. Jack handed it over to a man who owned a small electronics shop on Comm Ave in Brighton who within 30 minutes was able to analyze and determine which bands the Feds were using and duplicated a similar device that he installed in the glovebox of Jack’s car. I sadly don’t remember his name, but I do remember that he was Lithuanian. His family came to the States at the end of WWII. He enlisted in the Army at the beginning of the Korean War. In the service, he became a communication specialist because of his natural knack for electronics. His experience with radios, transmitters and electronic means of communication were invaluable to Jack. With the new gadget secured, the car thief returned the Fed’s unit to its original place before anyone was the wiser.



Nina:

 

With his new tool in place, Jack cruised the streets listening to the Feds communicating, and in turn he learned their surveillance methods, their patterns, and what other criminals in the area were up to. From time to time he would even go to a crime scene to further observe how the Feds operated. Most importantly, he learned their pass along technique of vehicle and foot surveillance of suspects. A Fed would drive or walk by a suspect, observe them, move out of the area and then pass the surveillance off to another agent. Jack also heard the agents discuss the one on one surveillance used by the locals, Staties and Postal Inspectors. He also learned that the Staties had begun to adopt the Feds’ pass along technique.



Lara:

 

Another valuable piece of info he obtained was that the FBI was using wiretaps, mostly what were called “Gypsie wires” as they weren’t admissible in court, but they could use that information to obtain warrants through other avenues. 



Nina:

 

And there was no shortage of wiretaps! The one at Raymond Patriarca’s place in Providence was installed in March ‘62. The Feds installed another one at Jerry Angiulo’s Tremont Street office in July that same year.



Lara:

 

And they were all in denial about it! Swearing that it had to be New York where the leaks were taking place!



Nina:

 

Jerry tapping on the walls in Raymond’s office! Pure comedy!

 

Jack needed to collect more than intel though. He also needed a State Trooper’s uniform, 46-Long, the weapons that were procured, rolls of rope and tape, license plates from stolen vehicles, and highway road blocks. 



Lara:

 

And let’s not forget operating capital. Although Jack was said to have more than a half a million dollars cemented behind the walls of his three bathrooms. He also had money invested in the loan shark operations of the McLaughlins, and in Vegas. But he wasn’t going to use his own money. Borrowing money from a couple of local loan sharks shortly after pulling a heist had become a practice of his. It was a perfect cover. The sharks would gossip that Jack had taken a loan, and who would believe a guy who just made a score would need to go to the sharks. This time he needed to borrow beforehand to keep his crew out of trouble. Any of them could be faced with needing cash quickly and run the risk of being arrested.



Nina:

 

If you listened to Episode 10, you’ll recall that SA H Paul Rico arrested Richie while he was transporting weapons for the McLaughlins shortly after the Essex Trust Robbery in the first half of ‘62. Rico used the possibility of life in prison to pressure Richie into becoming a Confidential Informant. Richie didn't hide this development from Jack. A huge risk for Richie by confessing to Jack, and a bigger risk for Jack by continuing to use Richie in his crew. But Jack figured they could use the connection to their advantage against their competition and enemies. With Richie on the inside, so to speak, he’d have a better idea of what the Feds suspected. Plus Rico was only interested in Richie’s heroin and weapons dealings with Ralphie Lamattina and the McLaughlins. Rico had no idea that Richie had graduated to armed robbery. But Richie had to feed information and give up other criminals to Rico in exchange for his freedom. We’ll get more into who Richie gives up that summer in the next episode.



Lara:

 

With his crew’s pockets full, Jack once again recruited his car thieves to steal the remaining vehicles they’d need, four more vehicles for transport and their getaway. He and dad continued driving up and down the mail truck route looking for the perfect location to take it. Dad clocked the silence once. 6 hours without a peep out of Jack. Finally in late June, Jack settled on a location. He chose a section of the northbound side of Rte 3 just after the Clark Rd exit. The exact location would be just opposite the small state park that separated the north and southbound sides by a row of pine trees. It was impossible to see the area from the southbound side for roughly 100 yards. Plenty of space to take the truck without witnesses.



Nina:

 

Now that the location was decided on, Jack and Richie were back to their normal routines. Richie was actually thankful to be driving Jack around the Boston area following the Feds and making their diner pit stops. The only thing left to do was select the date. July 4th weekend was tempting, but the increased traffic made that too risky of an option. The other consideration was the Kennedy compound in Hyannis. If President Kennedy was going to be at the compound, that meant the addition of a Secret Service detail which was far too dangerous. 

 

As the month of July passed, Jack kept a tight lid on the guys. He spent hours with them. Roy diagnosed everyone’s potential health issues, in particular Jack's chocolate cake habit and the diabetes that certainly would be the outcome of that habit. Despite his bad diet, Jack looked tall, fit, and rugged, with a thinning shock of graying red hair and bright blue eyes. 

 

Keeping Sonny and Mello away from gambling was like herding cats. Tommy was the easiest to keep in check. He was the only one of the gang that held a normal job. Jack kept Richie driving to keep him from womanizing and drinking. The two of them would pop into Tommy’s a couple of times a week as an added distraction. Jack was parent, brother, therapist, priest, and counselor to all of them.



Lara:

 

While they were waiting, Marilyn Monroe had died and astronauts and cosmonauts were flying into space. But the only thing on their minds was the mail truck. Roy was busy reading every book and magazine he could get his hands on. Dad was like some crazed teenager waiting for his parents to go away, so he could get wasted and party. Mello, as impatient as he always was, wore a hole in his carpet pacing and swearing, waiting for the call and wondering when the hell it was going to happen. Sonny had the worst of it since he had to keep Mello calm, joking around with him in order to relieve the tension. If not, Mello would be out and about, getting in brawls and inevitably landing in the can. Tommy was fine since he was working all day and down in his basement with his DIY projects in his free time. Jack only had to pick the date!



Nina:

 

Well that's it for today. Next week we will be back to discuss the robbery itself.




Lara:

 

Hate to leave you hanging, but that’s how we roll! Thank you as always for listening. Please share, like and follow!



Nina and Lara:

 

Bye!