The gangland slayings continued in 1965. We're profiling the victims, and sharing own our theories, opinions (and snarky comments) about the FBI's investigations.
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Hi everyone! Today Nina and I are going to be covering the hit parade of 1965. It’s going to be a long one so grab a beverage. Some of the names might be familiar to you, but today we’ll be taking a deeper look at their backgrounds, what may have led to their killings and the suspects. If you want to listen to the hit parade of 1964, our most popular episode, the link is in the show notes.
And of course, we’ll be sharing our theories, opinions, snarky comments, and debunking the Feds’ theories.
Hey I think our listeners enjoy our snarky remarks!
In the case of Robert Rasmussen’s death, I’ll be telling the story I know from my late father. We won’t be covering Buddy McLean and Punchy McLaughlin’s deaths today. Next week, we’ll be discussing their assassinations and giving more background on them than we did in episode 13 and others. As we did in the hit parade of 1964, we’ll go in chronological order. So let’s start with John Murray who was killed on January 10th, 1965.
John Francis Patrick Murray Jr, was born on August 6th, 1926 in Boston. He was variously employed as a laborer, a counter man and a tree surgeon. Murray had served a considerable amount of time in prison and had a record that included carrying concealed weapons, larceny, b&e, possession of burglary tools, and armed robbery. He had been paroled from Walpole on August 24th, 1964 after serving five years on a B&E conviction.
In January 1966, SA Kehoe sent a report about the gangland slayings to the US Attorney’s Office in Boston. The text purported to be a summary of intelligence the Feds had gathered from their informants about the murders that had taken place in the area beginning in May of ‘64. But the report did not reflect the real information that Kehoe and his colleagues at the Boston FBI Office had collected. And Murray’s murder was no exception.
According to Kehoe’s report, Murray had started associating with Edward Goss, a local hoodlum, shortly after his release from Walpole. Murray's aspirations were to become a hitman for anybody, believing that this was the only way to make real money.
If that sounds familiar to you it’s because it’s very similar to the story that SAs Rico and Condon told about Jimmy Flemmi’s ambitions.
I agree with you, that the theme of being the number one hitman was promoted by the Feds frequently. Joe Barboza was another example of someone with that aspiration.
But Barboza really wanted to be a hitman. I don’t buy that Murray had any such aspirations. Kehoe was copying from FBI reports about Jimmy and Joe but substituting other names for theirs. Another example of this is a memo to Hoover dated January 8th, 1965 suggesting that Murray and Goss had murdered George Ash just two weeks before because Ash had refused to give them money. This was also a lie because the Feds and Hoover were perfectly aware that Jimmy Flemmi had murdered Ash because he had found out that Ash was an informant. But, of course, neither of those stories made it into Kehoe’s report to the US Attorney. I’ll let you get back to John Murray.
John Murray’s body was found face down at about 7:40 am on Sunday January 10th, 1965 inside the lot of Gallagher’s Warehouse in Dorchester. His death was caused by a gunshot wound to the back of the head. He had been shot in a bloodstained stolen car found abandoned a few blocks from where his body had been tossed. The passenger side of the front seat was covered with blood and there was a bullet hole in the side window.
He was named the 15th victim of the gang war in 9 months.
Murray’s younger brother, William, was awaiting trial in the slaying of his roommate William Treannie. You’ll recall from our episode about the 1964 hit parade that Treannie’s body had been found hacked into several pieces in three suitcases in a vacant lot in Boston’s South End back in November of ‘64.
John Murray was also a friend of Edward Huber, whose ice-encrusted body had been discovered in a Hingham brook about two weeks after Treannie was found. He’d been shot twice in the back of the head. According to the Feds, Treannie had killed Huber over some falling out over a loan shark racket.
Nothing about this story makes any sense. Treannie was already dead when Huber was killed.
The police claimed that they misspoke when stating who died first because of the order in which they found the bodies, but I agree with you that something doesn’t quite fit right.
The hacked up body sounds like Jimmy Flemmi to me. And given that it happened so close to Margaret Sylvester’s murder, my suspicion is that it was linked to that. Jimmy was probably tying up loose ends, and Rico was covering for his favorite again.
And the Feds knew that Jimmy killed Murray because his name was listed as one of Jimmy’s victims in Rico’s June 1965 report to J Edgar Hoover. But, once again, Kehoe failed to mention that little detail to the US Attorney’s Office.
And don’t forget that in the middle of all of this, Jimmy was down in New York with Billy Stuart to testify to the grand jury about the counterfeit ring. Imagine Jimmy on the stand!
Between Jimmy and Barboza, it’s a toss up to me as to which one of them was the least credible, but jury after jury bought Barboza’s tales and obviously Jimmy’s too.
In May, William Murray testified that his dead brother had killed Treannie. According to his version of events, Treannie and John Murray had been arguing about a robbery after spending the night out drinking. They resumed the argument when they all woke up that afternoon. John went into the kitchen, got a gun, and shot Treannie twice in the back of the head.
William was acquitted of the crime in a directed verdict by the judge, after a motion by the defense counsel Lawrence O’Donnell. O’Donnell was representing both William Murray and Robert Cook, since they’d been indicted together.
“Were you in fear of your brother John?” O’Donnell asked William Murray.
“Yes, I was,” Murray confirmed.
On the stand, Cook testified that he also was scared to death of John Murray.
Treannie’s girlfried testified for the prosecution that she had seen Cook kill Treannie. But Cook and Murray claimed that there had only been four people in the room, the two of them, Treannie and John Murray.
But in January 1966, SA Kehoe wrote that Murray was killed by Spike O’Toole and Francis Xavier “Gaga” Murray. The exact reason for this was redacted, but given the timing, it presumably had something to do with a threat to the McLaughlins. Remember too that just before this Gaga Murray and Spike had been threatened by an anonymous telegram sent the day before they were set to be released from prison. The telegrams read: “You will receive the same benefits as Harold [Hannon].” The Staties had taken the threat seriously and gave the two men protection as they left jail.
Spike O’Toole later told Jerry Angiulo that it was around this time that he realized that Wimpy Bennett and Jimmy Flemmi were ratting to Detective Billy Stuart of the BPD.
In mid-January, Jerome Sullivan of the Boston Globe began writing a column titled “Gangland Notebook” documenting the murders and the gossip surrounding them. His sources ranged from cops to criminals.
But some of his articles were so cryptic! It’s frustrating! I get that he couldn’t name names. He had potential lawsuits to worry about. Think about how much time Raymond devoted to trying to sue the Boston Herald Traveler. To add to the headaches for the crime journalists of the era, Jimmy and Joe were whacking people who so much looked at them wrong. Even the photographers were so afraid that they didn’t want the photos they took of the guys attributed to them.
Sullivan certainly wasn’t Howie Carr.
You love Howie!
He’s a character!
Indeed he is!
In February, Jerome Sullivan wrote in his column: “two underworld groups, both of which originally operated out of the North End, held a little Apalachin meeting about three weeks ago in a cocktail lounge in the theater district. The purpose of the meeting was to call a halt to the carnage among Greater Boston’s hoodlums.”
The two groups were the LCN and Tommy Callahan’s gang. Tommy had been shot in late December by unknown assailants. We will go into more detail about Tommy in the next episode.
The two parties agreed that something needed to be done to stop the killings, mostly because it was hurting their bottom line. In addition, the LCN agreed that whoever had shot at Tommy should be “hit”. But the killings didn’t stop. Instead, three more men were murdered in quick succession: Robert Rasmussen, Henry Reddington, and Joseph Francione.
Robert Rasmussen was born on June 21st, 1928 in Boston to Francis Rasmussen and Agnes Sullivan. He was employed spasmodically as a truck driver and salesman. He had served time for forgery, armed robbery, larceny, and extortion. Rasmussen was arrested in December 1951 and charged with being an accessory before the fact in a holdup in Wayland that had taken place the previous month. He was sentenced to 2 and a half to three years in State Prison in February 1952.
Then in May of 1962, Rasmussen was arrested for extorting a Hyde Park druggist for $1300. According to the pharmacist, Rasmussen’s two accomplices entered his shop, and one of the men told him that his friend had been stabbed below the heart. The alleged victim lifted his shirt and showed what appeared to be a stab wound. The pharmacist gave the men a prescription for benzedrine. Later that same evening the first man returned and told the pharmacist that his friend had died in his arms in the VA hospital. He demanded that the pharmacist give him $500 and the man complied. Two days later, Rasmussen showed up an d told the pharmacist that he
was a cop from police headquarters. He said he knew everything that had happened and demanded money to keep quiet. The pharmacist finally wised up and called his lawyer, who notified the cops. When Rasmussen reappeared a few days later to pick up the payoff, the cops were waiting for him. Rasmussen faced an additional charge of impersonating a police officer.
He had only been released from prison two months prior to his murder, after serving time for robbery.
Rasmussen’s body was found in a snowbank on the corner of Lake and Grove Streets in Wilmington at 12:50 AM on January 15th. He was nearly nude wearing only socks, boxershorts, and a necktie. There was a single shot in the back of his head from a .38 caliber gun. Rasmussen was so badly beaten that it took the police six hours to identify him and even then it was only through his fingerprints. Since there was no sign of blood or a struggle where the body was found, the police believed that Rasmussen had been killed elsewhere.
The story that I know is that Rasmussen was trying to shakedown Jack Kelley for a piece of the Plymouth Mail Robbery loot. He kidnapped dad in order to squeeze Jack for a cut. When Rasmussen met Jack and Pro for the exchange of dad for the ransom, they ambushed Rasmussen and beat him nearly to death. The bullet was just to make sure Rasmussen was finished off. He wasn’t the only one trying to get a piece of the mail robbery cash, Punchy McLaughlin and Buddy McLean were too, but we’ll get into that in the next episode. So Jack decided to make an example of Rasmussen to deter the others.
Although there was never mention of it in the newspapers, I was told that in addition to the socks, boxers and necktie, Rasmussen was wearing a hat and had a broomstick stuck up his ass that was used to prop him up in the snowbank, so passersby would see his corpse. I submitted a FOIA request to the Wilmington Police to verify that info, but it was denied as it’s still an open case. Maybe someday, we’ll get access to that file.
SA Kehoe’s report also stated that Jack and Pro were likely the killers, but according to his informant, most likely the fountain of misinformation himself, Vinnie Teresa, Billie Aggie was in the mix.
“According to information received, Rasmussen was attempting to shake down John J Kelley, prime suspect in the mail robbery at Plymouth; that George William Agisotelis of Lexington, MA and close associate of Kelley’s, and formerly a close associate of Rasmussen, told Rasmussen that he had a score of a safe in a bookmaker’s house, and lured him into the apartment of a Maruice Lerner where Kelley, Lerner and Agisotelis overpowered him and drove him out to the Silver Lake District of Wilmington, where they killed him.”
First of all, Pro lived with his parents, wife and two small children, so the likelihood that Pro would jeopardize his family to lure in Rasmussen is highly unlikely. Second, the scenario makes no sense because if Rasmussen was shaking down Jack, why would Rasmussen believe that Jack was going to cut him in on a score? Third, although Jack kept Billie close by, he was not doing scores or anything illegal with him since Jack had been pinched because of Billie in 1954. But, as I just mentioned, the Feds were mainly running off of Vinnie Teresa’s claims.
Roughly 11 days after Rasmussen’s murder and just three days after Henry Reddington’s slaying, it was reported in the papers that Jack Kelley had gone on vacation unbeknownst to his attorney F. Lee Bailey. A roundup of the usual suspects was taking place and Jack decided to make himself “unavailable” as he would have put it.
Nina, tell us about Henry Reddington’s background.
Henry Francis Reddington was born November 12th, 1913 in Boston to Malachi Reddington and Margaret Hamrock. Reddington had a lengthy record which included a 1953 conviction for smuggling barbiturates into State Prison. While he was in prison on the drug charges, he was charged with conspiracy to steal new cars in Boston and sell them out of state. The car theft ring had allegedly stolen two cars a week on average over an eight month period in 1951 to 1952. The cars were sold at $1500 each.
Reddington represented himself in court at his 1955 trial. He charged that the FBI had targeted him because he was politically influential. His rapid-fire cross-examination of the government’s key witness, his former employee, lasted two hours. The witness admitted that he had hired himself out to Reddington after being recommended by Romeo Martin, who was in prison with Reddington at the time.
At the end of the eight day trial, Henry was convicted of conspiracy to transport stolen cars across state lines, and on three counts charging transportation across state lines. The following month he was given an additional seven years for conspiring to steal automobiles. The AUSA called Reddington the brains of the operation, declaring the scheme almost fool-proof. He also labeled Reddington a cunning and habitual criminal and a menace to the community at large.
In May of 1964, the police arrested a professional hitter from New York named Crazy Joe Donahue when they found him lurking around Henry Reddington’s place of business. The authorities alleged that Reddington had harbored both Donahue and Frankie “Machine Gun” Campbell at various times. You might recall that the Feds had earlier used the threat of Frankie Campbell to prod Billie Aggie into cooperating with them against Jack Kelley and the Plymouth Mail truck robbery suspects. For more on that listen to episode 17.
Later that year, Sammy Granito was picked up on the wiretap at Raymond’s talking about some pistols that had been sent from the midwest by Henry Reddington. But the pistols apparently were useless because their firing pins had been filed down. Patriarca speculated that it was likely Reddington’s fault that they were faulty. But he also warned Sammy to be careful of Wimpy Bennett, but no specific reason for this warning was given (34.6).
Sammy later reported back to Raymond that he had asked Reddington where he’d gotten the guns from. Reddington explained that he received two guns from Albuquerque and two guns from Arizona and he, himself, had packaged the guns and had no idea how and why the firing pins were altered.
It’s unclear if these were the same guns that were obtained by Teddy Deegan or another set.
Maybe Cassesso got them from Reddington! You don’t know!
At 3:15 in the morning on Saturday, January 23, Dottie Barchard and her companion Edward S Johnson found Henry Reddington face down on the plush wall-to-wall carpeting in his Weymouth office where he ran an insurance and realty business. A breezeway connected his office to his residence.
According to the newspaper reports at the time, four bullets had struck him, three in the front of his pudgy frame, and one in the face. However, SA Kehoe’s 1966 report said that Reddington had been shot three times in the chest and three times in the head. Both were from .38 caliber guns. Which, if true, sounds like a Flemmi-Barboza Special.
Johnson called the cops, who thought that Reddington might still be alive. But he was pronounced dead on arrival at the hospital. Dottie and her companion claimed that they’d had a late night meeting scheduled with Reddington. When he hadn’t shown up, they tried reaching him by phone. When they still couldn’t get ahold of him, they decided to look for him at his office. Although, forgive me, what kind of late night meeting was this supposed to be? Drugs? Prostitution? You cannot convince me that she was going there to sign an insurance policy.
Maybe she was taking out a life insurance policy on Spike since she was suing him for child support!
Well, Spike was on that hit list of the cops! Maybe she was covering her bases.
Reddington had his fingers in so many pies that the authorities had trouble narrowing down the motive.
Jerome Sullivan had multiple theories as to why Reddington was murdered, including the Plymouth job, the McLean McLaughlin feud, the earlier murders in 1964, and a counterfeiting ring.
We can rule out the Plymouth job as a theory. That money was clean, and Jack didn’t need to launder it in the normal way. You’ll remember from our Pro Lerner episode that Jack had decided to give $40,000 to each of the boys including himself and $10,000 to Pro for his later assistance. $300,000 went to Sonny and Mello to launder through their business. $350,000 was delivered to F Lee Bailey’s office. It would then make its way to Vegas to earn more money for Jack. So Reddington wasn’t laundering the Plymouth proceeds.
Reddington was no stranger to violence. In November 1962, his home in Milton had been bombed when he was out of town. This apparently stemmed from some feud that was going on at the time between what appears to have been Tommy Callahan’s gang and Reddington’s group.
“A series of murders and several attempted murders three years ago were attributed to a North End gang trying to overthrow Reddington’s control. The North End group and Reddington’s men turned a South Shore drinking place into an armed camp as both frequented the same place and sat on opposite sides of the room glaring at each other.”
Sullivan also speculated that Reddington might have been killed for his involvement in a counterfeiting ring: “FBI agents had been keeping an eye on Reddington for the past several years because… he was suspected of involvement in making or distributing counterfeit $20 bills. In 1961 and 1962, these bills circulated throughout New England and New York.”
One other theory that we can rule out is that outsiders did it. Henry Tameleo later told Patriarca that New York had asked Jerry Angiulo about Reddington’s murder. Jerry sent Tameleo to ask around town about it. According to Tameleo, he had learned from Joe Modica that Sammy Linden had been asked by some unknown individual whether he desired the killing of Reddington to be postponed since Reddington owed Linden $8,000. But Sammy reportedly answered that he didn’t care about the $8,000, and didn't want to hear anything else about Reddington (42.76).
Patriarca instructed Tameleo to find out who had approached Linden. At some point later, Raymond determined that it was Frank Smith who went to Linden. But it’s unclear if that was actually true or if that was another story of Jimmy Flemmi’s.
Another later theory about why Reddington was murdered was that Wimpy Bennett owed him money and didn’t want to pay, and Spike O’Toole did the hit. We can also rule this out because, as we now know, Spike knew by this point that Wimpy was not to be trusted.
But SA Kehoe’s report alleged that Reddington was killed by Spike O’Toole and Francis Xavier “Gaga” Murray. According to Kehoe, Spike blamed Reddington for introducing Crazy Joe Donahue to Dottie Barchard. Spike believed that Dottie started using narcotics as a result. When Spike was released from prison in December of ‘64 he vowed to kill Reddington for ruining Dottie’s life.
Wasn’t Dottie’s life already ruined by all of them?
She didn’t need any help with that. She was her own worst enemy.
Kehoe’s report continued: “It should be noted that Dottie Barchard has been a paramour of not only James S O’Toole but had been indicted for bank robbery and acquitted; was the wife of Richard Barchard, a convicted bank robber; had gone with and was arrested with Louis Arquilla, bank robber, and was the paramour of many other hoodlums in the Boston area.”
He conveniently left out that she had been an FBI Confidential Informant for a decade at that point. You might remember from our earlier episodes that Spike was arrested on a morals charge just a few days after Reddington was murdered, and Dorothy was sitting in East Cambridge jail awaiting extradition to NY for the Donahue murder trial. Meanwhile Georgie McLaughlin was still on the lam.
On January 29, Wimpy Bennett and Stevie Flemmi went to visit Raymond. The subject of the recent murders came up, and Patriarca specifically asked about Reddington. His visitors professed not to know and a gossip session ensued, but Kehoe did not elaborate on what exactly was said.
About a week later, Jerome Sullivan noted that Wimpy was under surveillance by the authorities due to the fact that seven of the murder victims had either made their homes on the South Shore, where Wimpy was also living, or had been found dead there.
Sullivan’s theory that it had to do with the McLean/McLaughlin feud and the earlier murders in 1964 makes more sense. Reddington had gone underground in mid-summer 1964 and hadn’t popped up again until sometime in October.
“There is hardly a detective on the Boston Police force or an agent in the local FBI who was surprised that Reddington was slain. His name, his photograph, his home address, and the type of car he drove have been contained in a confidential Boston police circular for more than six months. This circular, bearing the names of 18 to 20 known hoodlums, divides the list into two groups – those friendly to suspected slayer and FBI fugitive George McLaughlin and those hostile to him. Reddington was a known associate of McLaughlin’s.”
Reddington was the third name on the list who had been targeted. The other two were Harold Hannon and Punchy McLaughlin. As we mentioned in our episode about the Hit Parade of 1964, Hannon was most likely murdered because of his attempts to bring Georgie in. And Punchy was almost murdered in November likely for the same reason. So you have to wonder if Reddington wasn’t involved in a similar scheme.
Maybe Dottie was picking up money for Georgie from Reddington. Dottie blabbed to Rico, and Rico told Jimmy. Remember that Reddington was murdered just one month before Georgie and Spike were arrested by the FBI. The Feds did not want Georgie coming in on his own. Frankie Salemme claimed that Rico came to him for an untraceable gun so that the Feds could kill Georgie when they raided his apartment. But in the end, it supposedly didn’t work out because SA Gerard Comen wouldn’t play ball.
Like Teddy Deegan, two months later, Reddington was killed by more than one gunman. We know that Jimmy and Barboza were responsible for Deegan. The counterfeiting ring being the motive is weak. If Jack and Pro were involved, then I would guess that drugs were the motive since dad was dealing, but I never heard any mention of dad being involved with Reddington in his heroin trafficking. Like you, I suspect Georgie McLaughlin’s apprehension was the real motive. Dorothy probably had no clue that by telling Rico that she would get Reddington killed, even though she should have known better considering how Harold Hannon ended up.
We both think Barboza and Jimmy Flemmi were the perpetrators, most likely at Rico’s behest. Which brings us to another familiar name from previous episodes and likely victim of Barboza and Jimmy, Joseph Francione. He was shot at 49 South Ave in Revere at 2:30pm on Monday, January 25th. He was last seen by his landlord shoveling snow half an hour before he died. The landlord reported that he heard three shots and ran to find Francione face down on his kitchen floor, with three bullets from a .38 caliber in the back of his head.
Francione was born on February 5th, 1929 in Boston to Esther Rotondi and Rafaelle Francione. It appears that his father passed away some time before 1935, when his mother remarried Andreas Boschetto. Francione was employed as a baker, salesman, and laborer. His first arrest was at the age of 12, and he’d been in the rackets on a small scale for years. He was arrested in May 1948 when joyriding along Revere Beach boulevard in a stolen car with stolen plates. Then in 1952 he was pinched for a payroll robbery. The following year he was convicted of participating in a b&e of a wholesale jewelry store back in January 1950. He was also suspected of being implicated in many fur and jewelry robberies, as well as selling stolen cars.
In early 1960, Francione and Frederick LaTorella were arrested for a b&e in the nighttime. But while they were both out on bail on the b&e charges, Francione was kidnapped, beaten and robbed of $3200. LaTorella was indicted on a kidnapping charge, but Francione refused to identify his abductors. The two men were, however, convicted on the b&e, and Francione was sent to Norfolk.
LaTorella was found with his head bashed in, lying on the grass of the outfield in Walpole Prison’s baseball field on Memorial Day Weekend the following year. The slaying was believed to be the result of a grudge against the victim, who was labeled a “troublemaker” by prison authorities. Because of his many run-ins with his fellow inmates at Walpole, LaTorella had been transferred to Norfolk and then to Concord Reformatory. According to one prison official, he made enemies wherever he went. He had returned to Walpole, at his own request, less than 24 hours before he was murdered in front of 200 witnesses. Of course, nobody would admit to witnessing the murder.
Two men were booked and held in isolation cells, William Daggett and James O’Malley. Daggett later testified that LaTorella had attacked him with the bat and with a knife. He claimed he acted in self-defense. He said that O’Malley was not with him at the time of the murder. Daggett’s attorney was, of course, Joseph Sax. The jury returned a verdict of not guilty after 8 hours and ten minutes.
Francione was paroled in July 1963, the same month Jimmy Flemmi was released. He moved from Watertown to Revere in early 1964. A few months later, he was arrested in the middle of the night at the Ould Newburyport Golf Course Clubhouse. He and his accomplice had stuffed about $2000 worth of golfing equipment and sports clothing into boxes and were preparing to cart them out of the clubhouse. Francione was also reportedly engaged in passing forged checks and was in debt to loan sharks.
Sullivan also speculated that Francione’s murder may have been linked to the Plymouth job, but then quickly dismissed it: “Reports that Francione was under constant surveillance by the Post Office Dept in connection with the… Plymouth Mail Robbery… are exaggerated. Francione was questioned shortly after the holdup, but was one of more than 100 to undergo questioning at that time…. Postal officials have not been interested in him since. Boston detectives have Francione pegged as a common thief.”
The morning that Francione was killed, his estranged wife had been sentenced to 30 days in Charles Street Jail for contempt. She’d been arrested for passing a bad check, but the contempt charge stemmed from her telling the police that she had no criminal record and giving a false name. Mrs. Francione appeared in court that morning with two black eyes and a bruised cheek, which, according to the police, were the result of an argument with her husband the night before. When the judge asked her how she came into possession of a forged driver's license, she quipped: “If I told you, I’d end up with two broken legs.”
Francione had attended the court hearing with his wife and made restitution of $245 for the bad checks. He himself was out on $10,000 bail for stealing furs.
Mrs. Francione was informed of her husband’s death in her jail cell. She told the cops that her husband had been in debt to loan sharks. She was released on January 27th, and given a two year suspended sentence for the bad check charges.
The poor woman was probably relieved to be rid of him.
According to SA Kehoe, an FBI informant told them that Francione was killed by Joe Barboza who, at the time, was involved in loan shark activities with Cono Frizzi from East Boston. Francione was killed by Barboza on a hit contract which was later ascertained to have been ordered by Frank Smith.
The Feds “ascertained” this information from Jerry Angiulo, who likely learned it from Jimmy Flemmi. But as we outlined in the previous episode, it seems very unlikely that this was true. Jimmy was a pathological liar who would make up any story that would suit his purposes in the moment. But his story changed depending on who he was talking to. There are multiple occasions of Jimmy on the wiretap at Raymond’s complaining about a murder that had taken place, and telling Raymond how unnecessary the whole thing was, but it turned out that Jimmy was the killer.
And again, Kehoe’s later report is not the same as H Paul Rico’s list of Jimmy’s victims, where Francione is also listed. In addition, Henry Tameleo and Jerry Angiulo were each picked up on the wiretap at Raymond’s on two separate occasions telling Raymond that Joe Barboza killed Francione. In March, Jerry also told Raymond that Jimmy was with Joe when Francione was killed.
The day after Francione was murdered, a man whose first name was Frankie, but whose last name SA Kehoe claimed not to know, came down from Boston to see Raymond in Providence. His purpose in visiting was to discuss the recent underworld killings in Boston. Raymond advised Frankie to tell everyone to keep off the street as much as they could because of the recent roundups of criminals in Boston by the local police. Frankie replied that everyone was scared of Jimmy and asked Raymond to talk to Jimmy and impress upon him that there should be no more killings in Boston. Raymond agreed to talk to Jimmy and made the statement that “if the killings don’t stop I'll declare martial law.” However, Patriarca was still not actually concerned that Jimmy was murdering people without permission and, according to Kehoe’s summary of the conversation, indicated he thought very highly of Jimmy (42.72).
A few days later, Jerome Sullivan wrote in his column: “If there is any one overriding – or underlying – cause for the unprecedented rash of gangland murders, it is probably that there is no big-time rackets boss in this area. If there were one, a halt would have been called many months ago.”
He continued by quoting the Boston Police Superintendent: “If these slayings prove nothing else: they prove there is no such thing as organized crime here.”
That’s why we called our episode about Raymond Patriarca “Disorganized Crime”.
Yes, but I think Sullivan was trying to say that there weren’t any structured criminal groups to allay the fears of the public. Clearly there were, but there was no true hierarchy. Raymond could hardly control what was going on in his own neighborhood in Providence, let alone Boston and the rest of New England. Disorganized crime indeed. And the slayings weren’t just taking place on the outskirts of Raymond’s realm.
Raymond Curcio was found shot to death in a car in Providence’s Federal Hill neighborhood on February 19th. He’d been shot six times in the back of the head and neck. His record included charges of breaking and entering, and he’d been paroled from Rhode Island State Prison in 1962. Curcio’s most recent scrape with the authorities had taken place the previous December when he was charged with trying to assault a patrolman with a crowbar as the officer was attempting to arrest him inside a store they said he was burglarizing.
Frank Curcio paid Patriarca a visit a few days after his son was murdered. According to Frank, his son was a dope addict. The two men discussed the origin of the drugs, but throughout the entire conversation, Raymond gave no indication that he knew who had murdered Frank’s son (43.9). And that seems to have been the end of it. From what we’ve seen of SA Kehoe’s notes from the wiretap, Curcio is never mentioned again. And his report to the US Attorney the following year didn’t even name Curcio as a murder victim in the gang war. Though that may just have been because the murder took place in Rhode Island and not Massachusetts.
Fast forward nearly 16 years to December 1980 when Raymond Patriarca was charged with being an accessory before the fact in Curcio’s murder. The government’s only witness was another self-proclaimed mafia hitman named Nicholas Palmigiano who claimed that he and Dickie Callei had killed Curcio on Raymond’s orders, using handguns supplied by Rudy Sciarra.
Conveniently, Dickie Callei had been murdered in 1975.
Palmigiano alleged that Raymond had ordered Curcio’s murder because he and two other men had burglarized the home of Joseph Patriarca back in the mid-1950s. According to Palmagiano, the other two men had “disappeared”. One of them he named as an Angelo Mosca, and the other one he couldn’t remember.
“Patriarca was upset about the break-in… he told me to nail Curcio. He told Sciarra to supply the guns.” Palmigiano testified. The reason that Sciarra supplied the guns was because Palmigiano claimed that “guns were hard to come by.”
“I had guns of my own, but why should I have to use my own guns for his murder? I just have to throw the gun away after. Besides, he could get all the guns he needed.”
Palmigiano testified that he and Callei had set Curcio up by telling him they had a score. Curcio was driving, and Palmigiano slid behind Curcio and fired two shots from the .32 into the back of his head. Callei, using the .38, fired three shots into the victim. As he left the car, Palmigiano fired another bullet at Curcio through an open window on the passenger's side of the car.
He later disposed of the weapons in Canada Pond, along with a pair of gloves he’d worn.
The defense was not allowed to submit as evidence a metallurgist’s report showing that the .32 had been under water no more than two years.
Palmigiano also claimed: “Sciarra told me they tried to kill Curcio up in Boston a few days after the break-in, but they just missed him.”
Rudy’s lawyer also tried to get logs from the FBI’s surveillance of the Coin-O-Matic admitted as evidence, but his request was denied.
Really, who wasn’t Rudy accused of or tried for killing?
Palmigiano had testified that he met Patriarca and Sciarra out in front of the Coin-O at about 8:30 the morning of the murder. Conveniently, Raymond allegedly ordered the hit outside the Coin-O and not inside it, so it wasn’t picked up on the wiretap. The FBI’s surveillance logs showed that Raymond entered his office at 8:56 that morning.
Rudy was found guilty on June 21, 1981, and given a mandatory life sentence pending appeal. The State Supreme Court unanimously overturned the verdict and ordered a new trial in 1982. Rudy ended up pleading no contest in 1985, and was sentenced to 20 years. Raymond never did go on trial for the murder because of his ill-health.
There is a certain logic to Curcio being hit on Patriarca’s orders, but if it was true, why did the Feds wait nearly 16 years to make their case? A case with, quite frankly, a boatload of holes in it. And I don’t buy the motivation. Why wait a decade plus to kill somebody?
Look how long it took Raymond to find someone to bump off Willie Marfeo! How many years was he trying and he even had to import the Grim Reaper Greg Scarpa! So that part of the story is believable.
And Curcio wasn’t the only Rhode Island native slain in 1965.
John Barbieri’s body was found under a pile of leaves at 10:40am on Tuesday March 2, in the woods about 230 feet off of Carpenter Street in Rehoboth, MA. An abandoned stolen car with RI state plates was found less than 100 feet away. Its windshield was shattered, a spent bullet was on the floor and there was blood on the driver’s seat. Barbieri had been shot at close range, the bullet had entered the back of his left ear and exited his left eye. The medical examiner reported that the gun had been “held right smack against his head”.
If you listened to the Family Feud episode, you might recall that Barbieri was related by marriage to the Baccari-Marfeo family. In 1955, he had accused his brothers-in-law of scamming him out of $2500. They’d promised him 50,000 feet of mixed lumber, but then never delivered. The charges against Jackie Nazarian and Joe Baccari were dismissed, but Harry Baccari was held on $4000 bond. Barbieri would be charged with perjury in the summer, but the charges were eventually dropped.
SA Kehoe’s report stated that Barbieri was murdered because of a falling out over money. Barbieri had allegedly failed to divide up the loot evenly, and was shot by one of his accomplices. Kehoe pretty much dismissed the whole thing and showed no interest in pursuing it further.
I don’t know what exactly SA Charles Reppucci was doing down in Rhode Island. There were so many shenanigans going on between the Marfeos, Baccaris, Meleis and Barbieris, and he seemed to have been totally disinterested.
However, the wiretap at Raymond’s did pick up an unidentified man reporting that Barbieri had been involved in the “hot car racket”. Raymond had been told about five months before that his own brother, Joseph, was also dealing in “hot cars”.
On October 13, 1964, a man came into the Coin-O-Matic and told Raymond that two men had stolen his Cadillac from in front of his house that morning. He reported the theft to the police, but he didn’t want to be a stool pigeon and name names. Then he contacted an attorney to see if he could get in touch with the perpetrators to get his car back. He found the perpetrator and threatened to kill him if his car wasn’t returned immediately. It was then that he learned that his car had already been stripped and was ready to be cut up. The perpetrator took him to a garage where he was shown the shell of the car which was impossible to rebuild and return to him. The man whose car was stolen told Patriarca that they made $600 a week selling the cars, and that the person they worked for didn't care whose car they stole.
When Raymond questioned his brother later, Joe Patriarca denied that he was involved in the hot car racket. Raymond was clearly not convinced by his brother’s protestations and delivered a lecture, telling him to stop immediately, or he could get hurt.
Later that day the wiretap at the Coin-O-Matic recorded an argument between an unknown man and Patriarca about the hot car racket. The man stated that he was not responsible for the theft of the Cadillac. He also denied any knowledge of Joe Patriarca’s involvement in the racket. Raymond was more concerned about Joe’s name being brought into it, than about the cars being stolen from his people. The man vehemently denied that he was responsible for bringing Joe’s name into the situation. Patriarca vowed to kill the other man if he found out differently.
Ten days before he was killed, Barbieri had pleaded innocent to an auto larceny charge and been released on bail.
Fast forward 16 years again, and Gerry Ouimette found himself in court accused of murdering Barbieri. Albert Baccari, Barbieri’s brother-in-law, was also charged. The authorities alleged that Baccari, Ouimette and two other men had conspired to involve Barbieri in a counterfeiting scheme. They had supposedly robbed Barbieri of $25 grand before murdering him.
Ouimette was cleared of murder, robbery, and conspiracy in November that same year. Baccari’s trial date kept getting postponed, it’s unclear what happened to him in that case. He passed away in 2015.
There will be more to come about Ouimette in season 2.
We already discussed the Teddy Deegan murder in March of 1965, and our most recent epiosde covered the assassination attempt on Frank Smith just a few days later. But I would like to note here that Sullivan reported that one working theory for why Frank was targeted was because he had vital information concerning the murder of Frederick LaTorella at Walpole. The Somerville police chief described Frank as “a big wheel” while he was in prison and said he wielded great influence over a certain faction of convicts there. This group would always do his bidding, according to the police chief. Frank Smith was in Walpole when LaTorella was killed as was Jimmy Flemmi. Maybe Jimmy’s obsession with Frank stemmed from Jimmy’s paranoia that Frank knew the truth.
Ok, onto the next victim, Peter A. Cassetta.
Cassetta was born in December 1930 in Somerville, MA to Anthony Cassetta and Josephine Carnabucci. He was a small-time bookie who had reportedly recently “gone bad”. According to the Feds, he’d been hitting people up for money to fund his drinking and drug habits. But more significantly, he was an associate of a small-time hoodlum named Robert Joynt and had been scheduled to testify for Joynt in a b&e case on April 12th. But Joynt’s attorney, Al Farese, failed to appear in court and the case was continued. Ten hours later, Peter was murdered. His body was found with two bullet holes in the head on a lonely stretch of road in Maynard.
You might remember the last name of Joynt from episode 13 about the origins of the McLean McLaughlin feud. Robert’s brother, George, had been a McLaughlin crew member and enforcer. The story goes that on July 7, 1962, he walked into the Capitol Bar, a known Winter Hill crew hangout. He made it clear that he was with the McLaughlins and that they were going to wipe all of them out, including Buddy.
Russ Nicholson, Tommy Ballou and John Hurley surrounded George and began to beat him. Another man in the bar told them not to do it there. The three Winter Hill guys dragged George into their car and drove him to the woods off of Rte. 16. George was shot once in the back of the head and twice in the back. His remains weren’t discovered until January 1963 when a work crew discovered his bones. The theory was that George had been forced to dig his own grave.
But I have to say now that given what we’ve seen from these FBI reports, this version of events seems highly questionable.
However, the Feds were sure that Casetta’s murder was not related to the trial nor was it linked to the McLean McLaughlin feud. Instead, according to Jimmy Flemmi, Casetta was murdered over 9 lousy dollars. On his visit to Raymond in May, Jimmy told Patriarca that Jimmy Shoot and two other kids had killed Peter Casetta over an argument involving $9. They agreed that the killing was not a reasonable killing because of the amount involved, and that he, Casetta, should only have been given a severe beating.
Imagine catching a beating over 9 lousy dollars, let alone killing someone over that. Sounds like more of Jimmy’s need to blame someone else for his misdeeds. Imagine what his childhood must have been like!
I have imagined it! Their parents should have been locked up along with Jimmy and Stevie!
As for Shutt, he was arrested in August for the murder of a bank teller during a holdup in Worcester. The police had caught him and his accomplices after their getaway car crashed into a tree a mile and a half from the bank. Shutt pleaded guilty to second-degree murder the following year and was sentenced to life in prison.
I agree with you that it’s more likely that Jimmy Flemmi killed Cassetta, although I would not dismiss the $9 as the motive.
The next slaying was Romeo Martin. We’ve already covered Romeo’s murder in the second Teddy Deegan episode, so we won’t recount it again here. We’ve added a couple of poems that Romeo wrote in our newsletter that you can find on our website.
On August 21, 1965, Wady David became the eighth victim that year. I always heard dad and the guys call him “Wadey” but I”ll stick with Wady as I believe that would be the proper pronunciation. It reminds me of “Red Acid” which I could never quite figure out until I realized it was just Bostonese for Red Assad. Lebanese and Bostenese lead to a very confusing language!
We’ll definitely have to include Red Assad in an episode or two.
We have to include the English Tudor competition amongst the older gangsters! Driving around looking at each other’s houses gossiping about the brickwork and landscaping!
A bunch of pretentious weirdos! Including you! And your own house with the beam from the USS Constitution!
Hey, I resemble that remark!
At least you don’t resent it.
Oh and hidden away on the front of the house is an American flag designed out of bricks. The irony of it all is that one of the sheriffs of Suffolk County ended up buying my childhood home.
We won’t reveal what happened after that!
Wady Abdo David was born on February 22, 1914 in Zahle, Lebanon to Abdo David and Selma Saliba.
Many of the Lebanese immigrants that lived in the South End of Boston were from Zahle. We’ll have to include the other Baione in an episode too.
There was another Baione? Not the Larry Baione otherwise known as Illario Zaninno?
Yes there was, Philip “Sonny” Baiona who owned the Waltham Tavern and a building where one of the Lebanese clubs on Shawmut Ave was located. Sonny was the nephew of Larry Zaninno through Larry’s half brother from Larry’s mother Isabella’s first marriage. Isabella La Gratta Baiona married Joseph Zaninno in 1919 and Larry was born the following year. Try keeping that straight in your head! Somewhere along the line Larry started using the Baione version of the surname. There will be plenty about Larry and company later this season and the next.
Sorry for getting so far off track there.
On Wady’s WWII draft card he listed himself as unemployed, but in the 1940 census he was listed as a tree surgeon. Two tree surgeons in one episode is enough for me. In 1943 he got married and went on to have two children. Wady was famous for his gold money belt stuffed with hundred dollar bills, his ever-present white felt wide brimmed hat and flashy topcoats. His list of associates included Spike O’Toole, Jimmy Flemmi and dad. I assume the relationship between dad and Wady was based on Wady’s heroin trafficking.
And that’s what Wady was most well known for. In 1952 the Boston Police listed Wady as the biggest heroin trafficker in the Boston area estimating his annual income at around $200,000.
That same year he was arrested in a narcotics raid where $16,000 worth of heroin was seized. In his apartment were also 1400 empty capsules that the police believed he would fill with the cut heroin bringing its street value to $50,000. The authorities had been tipped off by a pharmacist after Wady had purchased some 2000 capsules. It was the first case of Federal agents using a two-way radio system to gather evidence for an arrest. He was also charged with participating in an illegal lottery operation. Wady was eventually sentenced to three years, but remained free pending appeal.
But not for long! On January 23rd, Wady was arrested at the Charlestown State Prison while in possession of a spring blade knife and passing 15 tablets to an inmate he was visiting. That inmate was none other than Teddy Green, escape artist and partner in crime of Frank Smith and Harvey Bistany. Bail was set at $40,100.
That winter of 1953 was a busy one at Charlestown. On January 11th, two guns, ammo, and some quantity of drugs had been found in the prison paint shop during a search of the building. Two officers had been assigned to investigate smuggling into the prison and were searching employees and visitors as they came in.
Six weeks later, they caught the prison storekeeper, Ralph Johnson, with a manilla envelope filled with 800 capsules and tablets as he returned from lunch. He admitted that he’d been doing it for seven months and named Henry Reddington and another man whose brother was incarcerated at Charlestown as his accomplices. He confessed that he was being paid between $25 and $50 for every delivery, depending on the size of the shipment. Each delivery was secreted in a pre-designated spot, in a different location every time.
And in the middle of all of that, Romeo Martin had attempted to escape from Charlestown by hiding under the pew in the chapel.
The Charleston State Prison was a happening place.
In February of 1953, Wady received a suspended sentence on the lottery charges. Finally on December 19, 1955, Wady was sentenced to three years in prison on his previous narcotics charges. For nearly ten years, Wady stayed off the radar until he was found lying face down in a South End alley. He had been shot once through the top of his head, and his hat was placed over his head after he hit the ground. Unlike the old Wady, he only had $4.25 in his pocket.
I think that how Wady was shot might give us a clue as to who his assailant was. Wady was 5’7” tall. It appears he was shot while standing which would mean the killer was considerably taller than Wady. That rules out Barboza and Flemmi. The only hitter at the time that I can think of who was tall enough would have been Pro Lerner who stood a little over six feet two. Now why would Pro or Pro at Jack’s behest want to kill Wady. The only thing I can think of again is dad’s drug dealing.
The police speculated that Wady was trying to get back in the narcotics business. Prior to his murder, the police had confiscated thousands of dollars worth of heroin from apartments they had raided. No one was ever charged in Wady’s slaying.
But it’s interesting to note that three of the 1965 murder victims were linked to one another at least from their time in Charlestown together: Wady, Romeo Martin, and Henry Reddington.
My uncle Danny was in Charlestown Prison at the same time as Wady, Romeo and Reddington, but I only know that he was friendly with Romeo because he lived in the West End and was close to Teddy Deegan. As I mentioned in the first Teddy Deegan episode, my family and the Deegan family were close.
I know your uncle Danny was just a bookie, but the connections are interesting to me.
Oh I agree. All of these guys were linked to each other in one way or another.
Speaking of linked, the next two men to lose their lives were Punchy McLaughlin and Buddy McLean, just eleven days apart from each other in late October. As we said earlier, our next episode will be dedicated to Punchy, Buddy and their murders.
The following month on November 15th Raymond DiStasio, John B. O’Neill and Robert Palladino were shot to death. We covered the killings of DiStasio, a McLaughlin ally and O’Neill, an innocent bystander in episode 24 about Joe Barboza, so we won’t be going into detail about them today. We’ll link to that episode in the show notes. In our episode on the boys of Winter Hill, we briefly discussed Palladino’s murder, but I’ll give a little more detail here.
Robert Palladino was an ex-con from Winchester who had been sent to Walpole for an unarmed robbery in 1962. After he was released from the Plymouth Forestry Camp in September 1964, he had gotten a job at Jimmy and Johnny Martorano’s father’s after hours joint, Luigi’s. The Martorano boys believed that another employee, Margaret Sylvester, was sleeping with their father, so they decided to kill her. After Jimmy Martorano killed Margaret in November of 1964, he and his brother recruited Jimmy Flemmi to dispose of her body.
Jimmy must have been high since he stuffed her mutilated body into a sack and left her body in the empty loft above the club along with a trail of blood. Who knows what was going through his head, but after his botched disposal attempt Jimmy called Det. Billy Stewart and relayed the sordid tale to him. On November 11, 1964, Margaret’s body was discovered by the police. They had obtained a search warrant based on an anonymous call that stolen furs were stashed in the loft. Which just makes me think of Francione with the stolen furs.
In late April 1965 District Attorney Garrett Byrne convened a special grand jury to look into Margaret’s murder. The press reported that indictments were expected to be returned against two men. In addition, the grand jury was going to see evidence related to a ring of fur and jewelry thieves.
Jimmy Martorano was indicted on a charge of assault and battery with a dangerous weapon. He had supposedly beaten Margaret with a shoe a couple of days before he killed her. He pleaded innocent in July 1965, and was released on bail.
Robert Palladino had testified in front of a Grand Jury about Margaret’s murder the week before he was killed. Palladino’s body was found in North Station with a single bullet wound to his head.
Decades later, Johnny Martorano confessed to Palladino’s murder. Martorano said he picked up Palladino in an after-hours joint on Blue Hill Ave, shot him in the head and dumped the body at North Station. According to Martorano’s statement, Palladino was his first hit. Which I sincerely doubt.
There was another murder on the day that Margaret Sylvester was killed. We didn’t cover it in the hit parade of 1964, but I want to talk about it now. Anthony “Neno” Buonaugurio’s body was found under the Southeast Expressway near the Columbia Red Line train station in Dorchester. His slayer beat him to death with a 10 pound rock.
I know the press and the authorities dismissed any connection to the gang war, but the location alone screams of a Flemmi situation.
One early article did try to link Neno, Margaret, Treannie and Huber’s murders, but if it was Jimmy obviously the Feds would have shut that theory down because they didn’t want to lose their favorite informant.
And Neno was linked to the Boston LCN guys through his brother Enrico who was an associate of Sal Cesario. Cesario had a record for heroin trafficking and was the predecessor of Ralphie Chong Lamatinna in the narcotics trade around Boston. In January of ‘64 Cesario and Enrico were pinched for loan sharking. Then in September of ‘64 Cesario’s brother, Philip was shot while driving at the intersection of Dover and Washington St. He managed to get himself to the hospital and survived. Again it was Flemmi territory where the shooting took place.
We’re going to have to look at all of the shootings and stabbings that took place between ‘63 and ‘65.
I agree that the murder of Neno Buonaugurio and the attempted hit on Philip Cesario had to be linked to the rest of the killings. Particularly because of the loan sharking and the locations. We’ll be discussing Sal Cesario in our North End episode in a few weeks. As for the Martoranos and Flemmis there’ll be no shortage of stories about them either.
Next week we’ll be going into detail about the assassinations of Buddy McLean and Punchy McLaughlin, and the events leading up to their murders. Thanks to all of you for listening. We broke the 10,000 download mark last week. Please keep sharing episodes and leaving comments. If you love us too much, consider making a donation on buy me a cup of coffee. The link is in the show notes.
Nina & Lara: