Raymond Patriarca the Early Years
Raymond L.S. Patriarca started like every other major mafia figure of the 20th century. First, his parents were Sicilian. His father, Elatario Patriarca emigrated from Sicily in the early 1900s. He married a woman named Mary and they lived in Worster Massachusetts where Raymond was born. The Patriarca family moved to Federal Hill, an Italian neighborhood in Providence Rhode Island in 1908. Raymond’s father ran a bar and liquor store where young Raymond got his first exposure to criminals. When Raymond was 17, his father died leaving his widow and two daughters, and two sons. By that time, all the Patriarca kids were old enough to work and, like most immigrants, they all lived in the same Federal Hill house. Raymond will later tell a congressional committee that he “drifted a little” when his father died.
As a teenager, Raymond Patriarca worked as a bellhop and supposedly shined shoes. He probably spent more time stealing, hijacking trucks and running from the police from his record of arrests. Like every other rising young criminal during prohibition, authorities arrested him for transporting illegal alcohol. By the 1930s, he gained a reputation as a professional criminal. He got involved in a plot to free two prison inmates where the participants killed a prison guard and trusty. He was sentenced to a year and a day in the federal prison at Atlanta in 1931 for transportation of a female over a state line for the purposes of prostitution or the Mann act. In 1932, he is charged with committing an armed bank robbery down in Massachusetts but the witnesses refuse to ID him. He was becoming so well known that the Providence police list him as a public enemy and they arrest him on sight and bring him in for at least a few hours.
The Development of Raymond Patriarca and the Providence Family
During the turn of the century, many Sicilians immigrated to the Federal Hill area of Providence RH. They brought the Black Hand mafia with them. In 1917, a person named Frank “Buttsey” Morelli moved to Providence with his family. He and his brother Joseph formed a robbery gang. Some claim they were the real robbers, not Sacco and Vanzetti, who killed the guard and pay clerk in that famous 1920 Braintree Massachusetts robbery. During those years, most people would consider Frank Morelli to be the face of the Mafia in Providence’s Federal Hill.
Gaspare Messina and Joseph Lombardo were the early bosses of the entire New England area based out of Boston. During the Castellammare War in New York, Other Mafia bosses appointed Gaspare Messina temporarily as the boss of bosses for a couple of years. Joseph Lombardo served as Messina’s underboss and he organized several Sicilian gangs and his most important accomplishment was that he helped eliminate the powerful Irish Gustin gang. As these men got older, Filippo Buccola arrived in Boston from Palermo Sicily. Joe Lombardo will never rise higher than Underboss and Buccola will become the Boss of Boston. At this time, I believe the Boston family was like the big brother over Providence and the rest of New England. Kind of like Chicago and Kansas City. According to the famous New England mob turncoat Vinnie Teresa, Boston’s underboss Joe Lombardo ordered Buttesy Morelli into retirement and Filippo Buccola became the boss of Boston and Providence in 1947.
The Prime years
By 1954, Filippo Buccola retired to Sicily. Raymond Patriarca was a Capo under Buccola and a well-known successful mobster. He had organized several small crews under his leadership. These men made big jewelry scores, bank, and armored car robberies and he opened several gambling establishments in Providence and the surrounding area. Patriarca allied with two different New York mob families. He had business interests with the Colombo family. During this time, Enrico “Henry” Tameleo transferred from the Bonanno family to be Patriarca’s underboss. This gave him solid connections back to the five families. He got involved with the Luciano family acting boss, Frank Costello in the gambling business. The Commission agreed that he would have Boston, Providence, and the majority of New England. Eventually, Patriarca will appoint an underboss based in Boston in the 1960s named Gennaro Angiulo. This guy ever worked his way up but he earned a lot of money. He had a very successful numbers racket and Patriarca made him an offer he could not refuse. Patriarca brought him into his family in exchange for a big piece of his gambling action. In 1957, the Massachusetts Crime Commission named Raymond Patriarca as the most powerful influence in New England gambling, which they allege was a 2 billion dollar a year business.
Raymond Patriarca and the FBI
In 1958, he has pretty well consolidated all gambling action in New England. He started the National Cigarette Service vending company and operated out of a building with the name Coin-o-Matic. This would be the target of an extensive MISUR survey by the FBI during the early 1960s. This is the FBI acronym for surveys of a property to install a hidden microphone. If it was for a telephone tap, they called it a TELSUR. Informants claim he has 250,000 invested in a Las Vegas casino with three other mobsters.
In 1958, the McClellan Committee on Labor racketeering calls Patriarca. He is asked about using strong-arm tactics to remove rival cigarette vending machines. He claims he does not and the reason for his success is that he has a shoebox with $80-90 thousand in cash left from his mother’s savings. Robert Kennedy asked him why he got involved in burglaries when he was much younger and he replied with a question, “Why do a lot of young fellows do a lot of things when they haven’t a father.” Later in 1959, when bobby Kennedy gets him in front of the commission again, Patriarca does not take the fifth like all the others. He engages and describes himself as an honest businessman who is hounded by the police and press for no reason. In 1961, Patriarca toke out a large advertisement in the Providence Journal-Bulletin to complain about their coverage of him. Among other things, he states, “your newspapers seem to take a fiendish delight in their unwarranted and unjustifiable characterizations of me, in which you infer that I am involved in illegal activities documents his day to day activities from a hidden microphone. In July 1966, a Providence gambler named Willie Marfeo is murdered for failing to pay tribute from a gambling game and when confronted by Patriarca consigliere Henry Tameleo, Mario cursed and assaulted him. Patriarca ordered him murdered and someone shotgunned him to death in a Federal Hill grocery store shortly after. He will send people to murder Marfeo’s brother a couple of years later. Authorities will convict Patriarca of conspiracy in connecti0n to these murders.
During 1960-61 FBI has a series of reports talking about constant surveillance of Patriarca trying to get a microphone inside the Coin-O-Matic office on Atwell Ave in the close-knit Italian Federal Hill neighborhood where they see him sitting inside all day along with his underboss Henry Teleleo and Frankie “Frank the Cheeseman” Cucchiara, his consigliere. This location is known by everybody as The Office. The agents report there is an Italian social club with gambling at all hours of the day and night prevents and easy installation. Eventually, by 1964, they get it installed. They established a listening post at 153 Dean St., which was St. Margaret’s home for Working Girls and is now the Arbor Hills Assisted Living building. FBI reports show the hidden microphone revealed that Patriarca was the Godfather of the New England area and they hear Patriarca talking sharing a bribe with a former NH governor, John Notte to get race dates added to horse tracks in Rhode Island. They learn that Raymond Patriarca forces recording industry executives to pay him to get airtime on New England radio stations. They hear insurance executives approach him complaining about auto thefts in the area. They learn that he is a dominant force in all illicit, political, and labor union activities in New England. People brought him complaints like those that someone was disrespected in a restaurant and he made a call. A father came to Patriarca about his son was murdered and the fact he was a dope addict and wondered where the dope came from. Patriarca said he had no information on this. He discussed police officers who were tipping them off about raids and named a state police officer as a man who was trying to set up and arrest one of their Providence police contacts. On one occasion, a man displayed a pistol silencer and said he paid $300.00 for it and was getting a few more made. He talked to a guy who had stolen a large quantity of Spiedel watchbands and Patriarca wanted about a dozen himself for Christmas presents. He discussed the use of slugs in his vending machines and whether or not they could be used in telephones. He discusses selling truckloads of TVs, radios, razor blades, and other retail items. He helped a guy get a demolition project and he charged him $1.00 for “each light” taken out of the demo project. He was asked about the Joe Bonanno disappearance and he said he would find out because “the kid is coming up.” Later he tells someone that Bonanno was not kidnapped and disappeared on his own. They discuss how they have some jockeys who they give $400-$500 if “they pull the horse real good” and they name a trainer who “runs hot horses”
An underling came to Patriarca with a plan that involved some doctors in New York. One of the doctors was a relative of a New York boss and they wanted a piece of the action. Patriarca counseled him to not go into business with the New York families. He said they are nice people and I will help them occasionally but not to do any business. He explained he had some business with them years before and when a new boss came in, he took everything and left Patriarca with nothing.
Show Notes by Gary Jenkins
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