Agent Put "Hundreds" of Mobsters Away

Steven O'Donnell slipped inside the most powerful and dangerous family ever to rule over New England.

Tom Winter has written for NBC News a story on“Steve Foley” -- the name used by an undercover state police officer named Steven O’Donnell who was able "to get inside one of the Mafia’s most feared families."

During the mid-1990s he got inside the Patriarca Mafia family that ran New England, which Raymond Patriarca Sr. formed in the 1950s.

O'Donnell's testimony led to “hundreds” of convictions.

At the time, the muscle of the family crew O'Donnell had infiltrated was Gerry Tillinghast, who "was still in prison for murder – a killing that he and his brother were convicted of carrying out. But he was continuing to run his gang’s rackets from behind bars.”

O’Donnell was able "to build a massive dossier of evidence against the crooks, until authorities finally began to reel them in, starting in 1990." In addition to the convictions, the agent's testimony "led to the seizure of vehicles, drugs and hundreds of thousands of dollars."

O'Donnell's "moxie even earned the respect of some of the mob men he took down."

Gerry Tillinghast told NBC News that he bears no ill will toward his old adversary.“Lemme say this,” he said, “my personal opinion is law enforcement, their job is to take people that commit crimes -- no matter what level -- off the street. That's their job. A criminal, no matter what level, his job is then not to let that happen.”

“He did it pretty good. I gotta give it to him, even though I hate to say it.” O’Donnell agreed, noting that "law enforcement “respect(s) them in the sense that when they get arrested, it's not personal. It's part of the system that we're in. I think it's important it happens that way.”

His undercover work helped him reach his current position as the colonel and superintendent of the Rhode Island State Police, overseeing more than 600 state troopers and civilian employees.

Interestingly, the New England Mafia could possibly be on the verge of getting an infusion of savvy mobsters such as Matthew Guglielmetti, Luigi "Baby Shacks" Manocchio, Alfred "Chippy" Scivola and Raymond "Scarface" Jenkins, who could be back on the street this year, as reported last month by Tim White for WPRI.

In that article, Jeffrey Sallet, the Assistant Special Agent in Charge of the Boston office of the FBI, says the New England Mafia has been "decimated" nevertheless.

But O'Donnell added that members who do get out -- this year or at some other time -- will head straight for the street. "[I]f you are a sworn member you took an oath, it's tough to get out of that. Even if you wanted to."