Mob Fugitive Ponzo Arraigned After Years in Hiding

Enrico M. Ponzo, 14 years 
ago.
Enrico M. Ponzo was once a tough-guy gangster who was part of a faction seeking to wrest control of New England from the ruling Patriarca family.

But for the last 17 years he's been living in hiding in Idaho under the assumed name of Jeffrey John Shaw; he was arraigned today in U.S. District Court.

Many people thought he had been murdered or otherwise killed these many years, but in fact he'd been leading the life of a rancher in Idaho; the FBI and U.S. Marshals arrested him last month.

"Mr. Ponzo, 42, was indicted with 14 others in April 1997 ... While the others were arraigned, Mr. Ponzo had been a fugitive from state drug trafficking charges since 1994," read an article by Lee Hammel in the Telegram & Gazette.

In 1997, Ponzo was charged, along with 14 others, in a 40-count federal indictment with, among other things, racketeering, racketeering conspiracy, and plotting to murder and attempting to murder individuals who were loyal to a rival faction of the Patriarca Family headed at the time by Francis P. Salemme, and others whom the defendants viewed as rivals in their efforts to control organized criminal activity in greater Boston.
According to the indictment, the defendants “acted to usurp control of the Patriarca Family,” “violated the rules of La Cosa Nostra by plotting and attempting to murder Salemme” and others, and “intended to replace Salemme as Boss of the Family, and thereby, be able to 'make' new members of the Family from among their group," added a release from The United States Attorney's Office of the District of Massachusetts.

One specific allegation against Ponzo is that he was one of four men who shot Salemme in 1989 at a Pancake House in Saugus in an unsuccessful assassination attempt.

Since Ponzo disappeared, his co-defendants went through a 45-day trial in 1998, after which the jury took 13 days to be unable to arrive at a verdict on most of the charges. A second trial followed.Two of his codefendants were found not guilty in the first trial. The others either pleaded guilty or were convicted by a jury in the second trial. One died before he was able to testify against the others, according to the Hammel article.

Most of those convicted have completed their sentences, including Leo M. “Chipper” Boffoli of Holden, who got 4 years for his cooperation; and Eugene A. “Gino” Rida Jr. of Worcester, who was sentenced to 10 years by Judge Nathaniel M. Gorton.

But others, including one of the men found not guilty but convicted of a subsequent murder, remain in prison.

Assistant U.S. Attorneys James D. Herbert and Michael L. Tabak are prosecuting the case, along with United States Attorney Carmen M Ortiz’s Organized Crime Strike Force Unit, according to the release from the U.S. Attorney's Office in Massachusetts.

If convicted, Ponzo faces up to 20 years on the RICO charges; up to 10 years for conspiracy to murder; up to life imprisonment on the use and carrying of a firearm, with mandatory minimum consecutive sentences of five to 30 years on those counts; up to 20 years for assault with a dangerous weapon and attempted murder; up to 20 years for conspiracy to distribute and possess with intent to distribute cocaine; and up to 20 years for the extortion and extortion conspiracy charges, the release added.

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