The Problem with the Patriarca Induction Recording Story

By now, most have probably read about the FBI releasing a recording of a Mafia induction ceremony from 25 years ago in Medford. The Boston Globe, specifically, has been getting plenty of mileage out of this story for many of those years.

The story includes a huge error that's been repeated in many of last week's rewrites.



On Oct. 29, 1989, New England Mafia boss Raymond “Junior” Patriarca anointed four new soldiers into his crime family. A full-blown ceremony with a total of 21 wiseguys in attendance, it occurred following a civil war.



Junior's father, Raymond L.S. Patriarca, was the founder of the crime family, also called the New England crime family, the Providence crime family and the Boston crime family.

After the 1984 death of Patriarca Senior, the New England Mafia declined and the family's two historic factions -- one based in Providence, Rhode Island, the other in Boston -- vied for control. Jerry Angiulo, the family underboss, moved to take control of the entire organization.

Larry Zannino, a top lieutenant, supported Patriarca Junior, however. New York's Gambino crime family also bolstered Junior's ascendancy, demoting Angiulo and naming Zannino consigliere.

Junior was not his father -- and was viewed as too weak for the top spot. But with the continuing support of the Gambino family, he prevailed. For a time.

In 1987, Zannino was zinged with a 30-year prison stretch. His absence only underlined Junior's weakness. William "Wild Guy" Grasso was named underboss next. A cunning, ruthless mobster, many thought he was the real power in the family. Then Grasso had a problem -- he was murdered. In June 1989 a mob hitter tied to the Genovese family took him out.

Nicholas Bianco then took over the family's Providence operations.

It was against this backdrop that the 1989 ceremony played out, and is also the reason why Junior Patriarca seemed to hedge his words.

“We’re all here to bring in some new members into our family and more than that, to start maybe a new beginning,” Patriarca told attendees. “Put all that’s got started behind us ... and bygones are bygones and a good future for all of us.”

The entire proceeding was captured by a bug planted inside 34 Guild Street, the address of the house, which Vincent Federico, one of the four initiates, had "borrowed" from his sister for the day.

The FBI matched Junior's voice to the tape using a radio interview the young mob boss had participated in.

Many of the mobsters present that day were indicted on federal racketeering charges. "Prosecutors played the recordings in court to bolster claims that the men committed crimes for the Mafia," the Globe reported. "The New England Mafia's hierarchy, what was left of it, went to prison, leaving the family in disarray."

Then the Globe noted: "The tapes, marking the first and only Mafia induction ceremony recorded by law enforcement, also provided undisputed proof of the existence of La Cosa Nostra, Italian for “this Thing of Ours.”

The Globe story is incorrect.

The Globe and other reports based on this story failed to acknowledge George Fresolone's story.

As George Anastasia wrote for Philly.com on Nov. 20, 1994, Fresolone had been a 20-year veteran wiseguy who usually could be found in one of three places: the social clubs in Newark's Down Neck section; an Atlantic City casino; or a New York restaurant.

"The turnabout began in 1988, when Fresolone... agreed to become a 'confidential source' for the New Jersey State Police.

"A year later, he took it a step further, wearing a body wire and a transmitter and recording hundreds of conversations in a massive undercover investigation dubbed 'Operation Broadsword.'

"The high point -- for investigators, at least -- came on July 29, 1990, when Fresolone wore a transmitter and body wire to his own mob initiation ceremony and recorded the secret Mafia rite of passage for the state police. No one had ever done that before." [Emphasis added.]

Don't the Feds and New Jersey State Police talk to each other?

Thirty-eight mob members and associates from six crime families that operated in New York and New Jersey were indicted following the year-long Broadsword investigation. Most pleaded guilty and went to jail.

By Friday, March 8, 1991, PressofAtlanticCity.com reported that Nicodemo "Little Nicky" Scarfo was charged with running his crime family from federal prison, and 37 other alleged mobsters were charged in a state racketeering conspiracy indictment.

Seven top-ranking members of the Philadelphia crime family were among the indicted, including Scarfo's son, Nicodemo Scarfo Jr., now a Luchese member and in trouble once again, and John Riggi, former boss of New Jersey's home-grown DeCavalcante family.

Close to 380 conversations were secretly taped by Fresolone, who died in 2002 at the age of 48.

Fresolone, who co-wrote the 1994 book Blood Oath, died of a heart attack at an undisclosed location where he had been living in the federal witness protection program. No foul play was suspected.

Why did the Feds suddenly "release" the Patriarca tapes now, 25 years later...?





Comments

  1. The feds have bad history in Boston with things like whitey Bulger and who knows what else. Back at that time in Boston everyone was ratting on each other. The Italians....Irish....Jews.... they were all giving information to the feds and taking each other out.

    P.S. Ed can we get a update on the Decavalcante family?

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  2. So how is the New England crime family doing now?

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  3. Ithnk iseen ol phil jogging, but ill leave it at that as ido t blame da guy fo wantin a bedduh life

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  4. Ed. What are your thoughts on the contrasting views of Sonny Girard and the media regarding cosa nostra's presence today? Sonny says it's over and discards the media's assessment that there's a resurgence.

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  5. Sonny knows his stuff, and my thoughts are just that, my thoughts. You should ask Sonny.... I will say that in many ways, it is over for the mob.... The mob from the 1930s probably through to the early 1970s was a major power in terms of its economic and political clout. Journalists had to report on the mob because of its impact on so many American institutions. Selwyn Raab, in his intro to Five Families, writes about how he first encountered the Mafia as a journalist. In the early 1960s, he covered the education beat as a reporter. His "first journalistic collision" with the Mafia happened while he was working on a story about New York City's public school system! I've covered schools, wrote about lacrosse coaches retiring, etc., and I never ever not once encountered anything remotely, remotely related even tangentially to the Mafia.... It's there in the shadows and if there is a resurgence (who really knows for certain? The guys that do are not speaking) it will probably be uncovered in bits and pieces by the law and the media. As we see in Philadelphia, the Nicodemo trial and Galati trial were non-Mafia trials, though both men have well known ties and more...Why do I mention that? Because the Mafia seems to be isolating itself, is going to lengths largely unknown to the public to hide even its shadows. It's probably focusing on the traditional "victimless" rackets, committed against or along with citizens who don't report crimes, who are complicit in some ways. Then again, look at that Genovese bust.... that shows another way the mob has evolved. It has always used "marginal" businesses, such as strip clubs, bars, check cashing joints but that case in New Jersey if you read it closely (I include a link to the indictment and I think I pasted most of the details of the rackets under my story) you'll see the mob has found even knew ways to hide its maneuvering. For instance, they were using the check cashing companies to lend money for points... Trying to hide a loansharking operation in plain sight, so to speak....I think we'll hear increasingly less about "Mafia" crimes going forward -- they will be reported as something else. I am reminded of something I read in one of John Dickie's books about how in the early 20th century an Italian serial killer was decades later understood to be a Mafia hitman; he had killed many people in order to hide the true target, one man, and the motive for the killing because it would've exposed something that wasn't supposed to be exposed.......Hope this helps! LOL!

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  6. What was the name of this book? regarding the Italian hitman

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  7. Whitey Bulger extorted drug dealers, never dealt drugs himself, it has been rumored that when he was young he was accused of rape but never had charges brought against him. That being said the idea that he payed the Patriarca's tribute is a joke. Whitey did business in South Boston mostly and was way more successful and dangerous then any of the mafia in Boston at that time. The Patriarca's were actually caught on tape at one point saying how much they admired Whitey Bulger and how dangerous he was. Technically he was an "informant" but more realistically it was the FBI giving him all the info, they would use shit from other informants and put Whitey's name on it so he would avoid and indictments by convincing the higher ups in the FBI that he was such a valuable informant. If anything the Mafia was jealous of Whitey's success because he was beating them at thier own game, he made more money dealt with a smaller circle and had every form of the government on the payroll, not to mention went on the lam for a long stretch of years in California which in this day in age most people would say is impossible. It is possible he killed one to two women however him and Stephen Flimmi blame these murders on each other so im afraid we will never know the truth.

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  8. Two things.....one Patriarca Sr. is certainly not the founder of that family. Two 'La Cosa Nostra' translates to 'the our thing' not 'this thing of ours'. Stupid FBI agents added the La.

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  9. He wrote several. Blood of Our Fathers was his first and biggest I believe, then the sequel, Sin of the Sons. Also Alternative Measures and Snake Eyes (Eyes is my personal favorite) and his most recent The Mob Reader, which every reader of this blog should read. Sonny is a highly talented writer who knows his history. He was like a mentor to me when I started this blog.....

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  10. You are correct, as always. Patriarca wasn't the founder but he did consolidate power in New England when he took over. I believe you was the smartest as well, playing all the different groups off each other. He put the family on the map and probably led it to its apogee.....

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  11. Great reply Ed, thanks for that. Can't believe a school story stumped into Mafia territory! To back up your point, the way they dress these days - it's all so under the radar. The smart suits are a thing of the past, they blend in so well with their jeans and casual tshirts. 'Hiding in plain sight' sounds like a very apt phrase.

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  12. The school story Raab mentioned in the intro? Don't think he says....

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  13. Cfm.... I love to make pithy remarks, on occasion. I don't mean to be rude though. Here is a great article that answers just that question, on the superb Gangsters Inc. blog: http://gangstersinc.ning.com/profiles/blogs/new-england-mafia-bust-emphasizes-mob-s-decline

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  14. This pic u have of George fresolone isn't him , fresolone died at 48 and this guy seems older , I'm pretty sure it isn't him

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  15. I found it in an obituary for a George Fresolone who died the same year as Philly Fresolone. But I changed it because I KNOW this is him....and the pic is more suitable for this blog.....

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  16. The new one u have put up is not him either ed , that's a pic of gambino informant primo casserino

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  17. Never liked Bulger because of the rapes. Murders, that's part of that life, it's over in a flash (usually). Rapes tho, women have to carry that around forever.

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  18. I seen Phils interview it was ok for the way him and Uncle Nicky killed people. Even Phil Narducci and his guys known in the 80.s as the young exocutioners who were also very ruthless. But whitey bulger was a Psychopath. More people were killed in his and Nickys reign then in the hidtory of the philly mob altogether. If that is.nt the pot calling the ketyle black i don.t know what is lol Philly

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  19. Whitey had sucess because he had the feds on his side, if he had a problem with a mafia guy he would set them up by informing on them. He should of been killed

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  20. Im not asking for a name but does anyone know who the first wife of Philip Leonetti was and if she is still around?

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  21. Phil didn't kill his current Wife's husband. He killed Vincent Falcone, who was married but also dating the girl he calls "Maria" whom he married. Don't know why Ed said he murdered his current wife's husband, that pretty common knowledge, or if anyone read the book.

    Phil was not married to the mother of his child. She was a waitress in South Philadelphia.

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  22. Nonsense. Jimmy's Irish crew was working directly with the Colombian cartels and flooding Boston with dope , coke, weed etc.

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  23. It's also said that sometime in the early 80s, Jimmy Coonan, boss of the Hell's Kitchen Irish Mob 'the Westies', had reached out to Bulger to establish a business proposition. Bulger declined the offer.

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  24. Oh ok. I was reading some article that said he was married to an Italian American woman but was dating a waitress at Brajole Cafe in Atlantic City

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  25. I think Joe during the 60 min interview thats how it came off Philly

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  26. Phil's current wife worked as a waitress at Angeloni's in Atlantic City. The mother of his child may have been in AC for a time due to dating and then having Phil's child but I believe she was from Philadelphia.

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  27. Nicky Scarfo Junior off the top of my head has several sexual assaults to his name. Several others in the Philly mob back then (Italian) also had sexual assault convictions.

    Really bizarre rant from Phil. Maybe he was beaten up by an Irish kid when he was in school and held a grudge?

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  28. I don't say anything of the sort. I'm recalling what I saw on a news show. I'll find link.

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  29. Ok the woman he "remarried" was dating Falcone when Phil murdered him. You want to go to 25:25 here.... https://m.youtube.com/?#/watch?v=ygRN043N8qQ

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  30. Ed I was not bashing you, I assumed that as a "mafia" expert you would have a read a book about the government informant who started a chain reaction of government informants against la cosa nostra. I cannot help it that Jerry, George, Dave and Scot have no respect for your reporting and lack of knowledge about la cosa nostra. Maybe read a book and digest information about those whom you report on?

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  31. Where'd you hear that? Who is the others?

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  32. A cop said it. I read it on a local article in the aftermath of the attempted hit on him.

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  33. Do you have a link to the article? I read an article once that just said Jr would beat up girls, didn't see sexual assault? It'd be very appreciated if you can find the article.

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  34. Yes, maybe I'll try reading a book. Thank you for the excellent advice. Crazy Phil's biographical details are the litmus test for all mafia knowledge, aye? How would you know who has or has no respect for me? Why do you waste your time reading such a disrespected blog?

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  35. Whitey was ratting out the Italians for years and even some of his own guys and yes he was paying tribute to the Patriarcas and also doing business with them

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