Boston Mob Highlights Patriarca Mob's Violent Past

From the Providence Journal: BOSTON MOB: The Rise and Fall of the New England Mob and Its Most Notorious Killer,” by Marc Songini. St. Martin’s Press. 369 pages. $27.99.

This is a colorful, even gleeful, account of murder, mayhem and corruption during the heyday of the New England Mafia. As you can imagine, despite the title, a lot of it is about Rhode Island and Raymond L.S. Patriarca, who ran the “Office,” as it was called, from the Coin-O-Matic office on Atwells Avenue in Providence.

Three strains run through the book by Boston-area journalist Marc Songini. The fast-reading narrative begins and ends with the turbulent history of Joseph Barboza, or Joseph Barboza Baron after he changed his name. Of Portuguese descent and from New Bedford, he worked with many of the other figures in the book.

Barboza seems to get this much attention because he was so psychopathic and so good at his trade: killing people. He also was a little unusual in that he converted to Judaism when he married his wife, Claire, and even needed to be circumcised, no fun for a grown man. (Not that Claire was the only woman in his life. “Claire, at least, might give him one special woman to cheat on,” Songini writes.)

Another main theme is Patriarca’s history and his administration of the New England Mafia up until the 1970s. You’ll find names known in Rhode Island, such as Henry “The Referee” Tameleo, Louis “The Fox” Taglianetti, Rudy Sciarra and, on the other side, U.S. Marshal John Partington.

A third strain is the history of the feuds and other violent acts of the various gangs in the Boston area, notably the McLaughlins from Charlestown — “in the ‘Green Square Mile,’ some said the babies were born with clenched fists” — and the Winter Hill Gang from Somerville. For sheer meanness and gratuitous violence, the Boston gangsters couldn’t be topped. The feuds between the mobs, the treacheries and assassinations, are like subplots in a novel. (Indeed, Songini seems compelled to start his end-of-the-volume section called Sources by writing: “This book is a work of nonfiction.”) In case you wondered, Whitey Bulger gets only a passing reference.

Songini attempts no sociological or economic analysis of organized crime, nor the reasons for its decline. Instead, it’s a romp through the violent misdeeds of thugs, with plenty of humorous asides, and little remorse when one mobster rubs out another — though there’s some outrage for the occasional innocent victim. He does tell how the FBI’s eavesdropping made things difficult for Patriarca, who groused, “Pretty soon the U.S. government will be running the country.” (President Obama would like that.)

But Barboza put it best: “There’s one thing in this game. Either you kill me or I’m going to kill you.”"



  2. let me guess, you went as far as the 3rd grade. i knew it.


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