Feds Focus On Rhode Island Mafia And The Foxy Lady Strip Club

On Tuesday Federal prosecutors asked a judge to dismiss a perjury case against a Rhode Island mob associate/bookie.
the Foxy Lady,

Gaythorne (Poochie) Angell Jr., 84, was indicted in 2016 for lying to a grand jury about shakedown money paid to the mob by the Foxy Lady strip club. He is the Angell family’s patriarch — whose friends range from Smith Hill politicians to Federal Hill wiseguys.

Poochie has long denied he was anything but a consultant. But a 2009 court document signed by a Foxy Lady lawyer showed that Angell had a previously undisclosed financial interest in the club, raising questions about the city’s oversight of its liquor-licensing laws.

He since successfully completed a pretrial diversion program, as prosecutors noted in a filing in U.S. District Court, Providence.

If a judge agrees to the dismissal, Angell, of East Greenwich, will not face the perjury charge in federal court.

Jim Martin, a spokesman for the U.S. attorney’s office, said that prosecutors and Angell agreed last December that he was a candidate for the pretrial diversion program, which he has now completed. The program moves people from the typical criminal justice processing to what the Department of Justice describes as “community supervision and services.”

In 2016, Angell was under oath when prosecutors asked him if New England Cosa Nostra capo Eddie Lato was given payments from the Foxy Lady.

“No,” Angell said.

He also denied directing anyone to pay Lato or any organized crime members.

Prosecutors said those answers were a lie, and Angell was indicted because he “knew that he was paying money or caused money to be paid to Edward C. Lato, on behalf of his adult entertainment venue, the Foxy Lady.”

Several mob figures were charged in the strip-club shakedown case.

Edward Lato, alleged capo in Rhode Island.

The Mafia has long had a presence at Rhode Island strip clubs, which pay protection money to prevent hassles — hassles usually are caused by the very wiseguys seeking to extract the payments. Prosecutors cited fights, tossing beer bottles as examples of hassles.

The Foxy Lady was shuttered in December after three dancers were arrested on prostitution charges.

The club reopened in January, when it was alleged that members of the family that runs the Foxy Lady had connections to organized crime and convictions for organized criminal gambling.

Paying the mob to keep on the right side of the city’s criminal underbelly has a long history in Providence, where top mobsters have gone to prison for shaking down the Foxy Lady and other clubs.

The Foxy Lady opened in 1979.

Retired state police Superintendent Brendan Doherty has said: “It’s always been a family business.”

“No one’s going to say anything nice about us,” Angell once said. “That’s just the industry we’re in. We call ourselves a gentleman’s club; they call us a strip club. We call our floor hosts ‘floor hosts’; they call them bouncers. We call our girls ‘entertainers’; they call them strippers.”

After business sank following an undercover police sting there on Dec. 11 that resulted in the dancers being charged with prostitution, the Angells began to focus on bringing the Foxy Lady back. No funny business. Just people selling a good time, Angell said, whether that’s steak tips or lap dances.

Prostitution? “To link us up with prostitution is an awful thing, because it means me and my son are pimps,” Angell said.

Shakedowns? “I’m shocked,” Angell said. “I don’t know who would be paying somebody.”

“The Foxy Lady has always attracted traditional organized crime for decades,” said Steven O’Donnell, a retired state police colonel and longtime mob investigator, “as we have seen through various prosecutions and the court record.”

Robert DeLuca, a Mafia capo turned prosecution witness, testified that the Foxy Lady was one of the places where he collected protection payments to kick up to Francis P. (Cadillac Frank) Salemme Sr., the former mob boss who was on trial for murdering a Providence man.

Strip-club owners would pay the city’s crime family because they and their customers did not want to attract the sort of police attention that a rowdy gang of mob thugs could bring with the swing of a fist or the toss of a booze bottle.

“Sometimes, there’s fights in their places and stuff,” DeLuca said. “You know.”

He’d known Poochie Angell for years, DeLuca testified.

“He’s one of the biggest bookmakers around,” DeLuca testified, according to a court transcript, “and he owns a strip club ... The Foxy Lady.”

Salemme, 86, and co-defendant Paul Weadick, 64, were both convicted in Boston federal court and given life sentences for the 1993 murder of Steven DiSarro, a South Boston nightclub owner. DiSarro, a 43-year-old father of five, was killed to prevent him from cooperating with federal authorities. His remains were unearthed behind a Providence mill building in 2016. Salemme was in the Federal Witness Protection Program when DiSarro’s remains were discovered, leading to Salemme's arrest.

During trial it was detailed how DiSarro, "extremely distraught” and dubious about a sit-down he’d been summoned to with the then-boss of the New England Mafia, had left a note at his Westwood home for his family, telling them they wouldn't see him again anytime soon. DiSarro then stepped into a car waiting for him and disappeared.

Salemme’s son Francis Salemme Jr., who died in 1995, had worked as an assistant manager at The Channel nightclub DiSarro owned. He was on house arrest when he allegedly strangled his former boss as his father watched. Weadick helped, holding down DiSarro’s legs.

Stephen (The Rifleman) Flemmi and Robert P. DeLuca were among those who testified.

Flemmi is serving life at an undisclosed prison for 10 murders. In 2003, Flemmi told federal and state authorities that he just happened to walk in on the May 10, 1993, murder of DiSarro at the Sharon home of Francis Salemme’s former wife, according to a DEA report filed in Boston federal court.

Flemmi said Salemme and two others watched as Salemme’s son, Frank, strangled DiSarro to death. Flemmi named the two other witnesses as Frank Salemme’s younger brother, John, and friend Paul Weadick.

Salemme later told Flemmi that DeLuca "was present during the burial" of DiSarro, according to the report, Flemmi said, adding that Salemme had expressed concern about DiSarro’s friendship with a law enforcement cooperator.

When Flemmi implicated Cadillac Frank in DiSarro’s murder, the former Mafia don was already in the Federal Witness Protection Program for cooperating with the prosecution of the notorious James "Whitey" Bulger and corrupt FBI handler John J. Connolly Jr.

In Rhode Island that same evening, DeLuca called Cadillac Frank from a payphone and Salemme told him he was going to bring him “a package." DeLuca also was told to “get a hole dug.”

Salemme then drove DiSarro’s tarp-wrapped body to North Providence in an SUV and transferred it to the trunk of a car for others to dump in a pit after dark.

Salemme flipped and testified against Bulger, former boss of the Winter Hill Gang, and afterwards was placed in the witness protection program. Salemme had been living in Atlanta, Ga., under the name of Richard Parker when he was arrested in August 2016.

Prosecutors recommended the 66-month sentence as part of a plea deal for DeLuca who gave key testimony in the trial of Salemme and Weadick.

DeLuca apologized to DiSarro’s family and said he “changed my life around” since 2011. He said he rejected crime and was a churchgoer.

An indictment unsealed in US District Court in Boston in June 2016 charged DeLuca, 70, with obstruction and two counts of lying to the Feds about the DiSarro murder. DeLuca also copped to participating in the 1992 slaying of mob enforcer Kevin Hanrahan in Providence.

During Salemme’s murder trial, DeLuca testified about how Salemme had complained in May 1993 that DiSarro was stealing money from the Channel nightclub. He also expressed concern that DiSarro was cooperating with the FBI.

DeLuca also testified that Salemme delivered DiSarro’s body to Providence, and DeLuca arranged for his brother and several other men to bury it behind a mill.

DeLuca also had pleaded no contest to plotting to kill mob enforcer Kevin Hanrahan in Providence in 1992.