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Epitaph for a Mob Boss, Gennaro "Jerry" Angiulo Dead at 90

By Johnny Simpson     Aug 31, 2009 in Crime
Colorful in public, ruthless and murderous in private, former Boston Mafia boss Gennaro Angiulo died this past Saturday of renal failure due to kidney disease. He was 90. For those of you unfamiliar with "The Underboss," you're about to get an education.
WBUR-FM, the Boston Herald and Boston.com have all reported that infamous former Boston Mafia boss Gennaro "Jerry" Angiulo, who ruled organized crime in Boston with an iron fist as the underboss of late New England Mafia chieftain Raymond Patriarca, passed away this past Saturday, August 29, of renal failure due to kidney disease. He was 90 years old.
From the early 1950s until his arrest in 1983 on federal racketeering charges under RICO statutes, for which he was sentenced to 45 years in prison in 1986, Genarro "Jerry" Angiulo presented a colorful and often eccentric persona in public. One of his favorite phrases he used on people who didn't quite understand what he said was "You speak American?"
When FBI agents arrested him in 1983 while eating dinner with his family at Francesca's Restaurant in Boston, Mr. Angiulo famously shouted to fellow diners, "I'll be back before my pork chops are cold!" He never returned. Upon sentencing in 1986 on a wide variety of federal racketing charges, the federal judge presiding asked him where he wished to serve his sentence. Angiulo replied, "How about the Pine Street Inn?" He was referring to a renowned Boston homeless shelter.
The judge denied his obviously ridiculous request, and instead sentenced Angiulo to serve 45 years at the federal prison in Fort Devens, Massachusetts. Mr. Angiulo would serve 21 years of that sentence before being released early for good behavior in 2007. Mr. Angiulo would live out the rest of his life quietly at his residence in Nahant, Massachusetts, an upscale beachfront town on Boston's North Shore.
The official record, based on federal documents and wiretapping of Mr. Angiulo's Prince Street headquarters in Boston's North End in the early 1980s, reveals a far less quiet-living and humorous Jerry Angiulo. As Underboss of the New England Crime Family in Boston representing Raymond Patriarca, who ran the New England mob from his home in Providence, Rhode Island, Jerry Angiulo was utterly ruthless and vicious in his mob "business" dealings, and was known to have ordered a number of mob hits.
In the bestseller "The Underboss: The Rise and Fall of a Mafia Family" penned by Gerard O'Neill and Dick Lehr, the authors revealed the violent history of Jerry Angiulo's rise from foot soldier in the Boston Mob in the early 1950s to made man to the pinnacle of power of organized crime in Boston, and finally to his eventual downfall, mostly self-inflicted, by way of a wealth of information on his mob operations collected by an FBI bug secretly planted at Angiulo's Prince Street residence in Boston's North End in late 1980.
As the La Cosa Nostra (LCN) crime boss of Boston, Mr. Angiulo was neck-deep in the usual "business activities" commonplace in any Mafia regime: gambling, loansharking, prostitution, drug dealing and, where deemed necessary, murder. In 1966, Mr. Angiulo was indicted for the murder of Edward "Teddy" Deegan, a low-level hood who had crossed the Boston mob. Mr. Angiulo is also suspected in the murder of Joe "The Animal" Barboza, a former enforcer for the Boston Mob. Mr. Barboza turned federal witness in 1968 while imprisoned and awaiting trial on murder charges himself. When a friend of Barboza's was killed and robbed of money raised for his bail, Barboza saw that his days were numbered and cut a deal with the feds.
While in the Federal Witness Protection program in 1975, Barboza would pen a sensationalized biography with crime writer Hank Messick. Barboza named all the top figures of the New England Mob in that book, including Patriarca and Angiulo. Amazingly, Barboza reappeared on the mob scene in San Francisco the next year, shaking down mob-run porn shops.
As recounted in Ovid DeMaris' The Last Mafioso, the acting boss of the L.A. mob, Jimmy "The Weasel" Fratianno, was informed by other L.A. mob members of Barboza's brazen shakedowns and offered to do the hit themselves. Mr. Fratianno replied "Let the Boston boys handle it," and contacted the Boston Mob. Barboza was murdered shortly thereafter on February 11, 1976 by five shotgun blasts in a drive-by shooting carried out by Boston mobster Joseph "J.R." Russo on the streets of San Francisco. Ilario Zannino, the chief enforcer for Anguilo, would later be overheard telling the tale of Barboza's hit on an an FBI wiretap.
In the late 1970s and early 1980s, the Boston office of the FBI was under increasing pressure from Washington to conduct surveillance on Mr. Angiulo's North End headquarters on Prince Street, a nearly impossible task with all the eyes in the neighborhood looking out for Mr. Angiulo. At first, FBI agents parked a car, with a camera inside a Kleenex box in the rear window, near Mr. Angiulo's residence at 98 Prince Street. Within an hour all four tires were flattened, and the FBI removed the car. In 1980, FBI agents posing as contractors placed a camera in an air conditioning unit looking down on Mr. Angiulo's residence.
That same afternoon, Mr. Angiulo stepped out of 98 Prince Street, looked up to the air conditioning unit, waved and smiled. Many other FBI attempts to monitor Angiulo's activities would prove equally fruitless.
Finally, on Christmas Eve 1980, three FBI agents posing as holiday revelers, two male and one female, broke into Angiulo's 98 Prince Street headquarters and planted an RF transmitter in the ceiling, with battery power good for six months. That bug would give the Boston FBI incredible insights into Angiulo's Boston mob operations, and enough damning evidence to convict Angiulo on RICO charges. Mr. Angiulo himself gave the feds all the information they needed, ironically by discussing with fellow mobsters why he couldn't be prosecuted under RICO. Angiulo would usually follow up that claim with detailed descriptions of the crimes for which he eventually would be charged under RICO. One typical quote of Angiulo's from the FBI bug transcripts recalled in 'The Underboss' was, "We're arsonists! We're drug dealers! We're loansharks!"
One set of facts that emerged well after publication of 'The Underboss,' regarding the career and downfall of Mr. Angiulo, was the adversarial relationship between the Irish and Italian mobs in Boston. James "Whitey" Bulger, the former head of the "Winter Hill Gang" Irish mob in Boston and now a federal fugitive on the FBI's Top Ten Most Wanted list, became Angiulo's greatest nemesis throughout his storied career. For example, Whitey was involved with Edward "Teddy" Deegan in the string of robberies which eventually got Deegan killed. It was also recently revealed that Whitey, upon visiting Angiulo at his Prince Street HQ in 1980, drew a map for FBI technical experts pointing out the best locations for the FBI to plant a bug.
One of the more infamous murders committed by the Boston Mob at Mr. Angiulo's direction, the details of which were recorded on the FBI bug in early 1981, was that of Angelo M. Patrizzi, a local low-level hood released from prison in early 1981 after serving a three-year sentence. Patrizzi sought vengeance on Angiulo for the murder of his brother by the Boston mob during his incarceration. Patrizzi made the fatal mistake of sharing that desire with other local hoods. Word quickly spread to Angiulo. In a sitdown at Prince Street with caporegime Sammy Granito and LCN soldier Freddy Simone, Angiulo ordered Patrizzi's murder. Angiulo closed out the meeting with his trademark phrase, "You speak American? Let's go!"
Though the FBI sought out Patrizzi in order to warn him of the threat, their efforts to find Patrizzi were unsuccessful. Angelo Patrizzi's decomposed body would be discovered in the trunk of a stolen car in Lynn, Massachusetts in June 1981. Forensic experts estimated the date of Patrizzi's death as March 15th, 1981, the last day friends of Patrizzi recalled seeing him. Sammy Granito would eventually be charged with Patrizzi's murder. Angiulo was also suspected of complicity in well over a dozen other Boston mob murders over the years and even indicted for some, as in the case of "Teddy" Deegan, but was never convicted.
In his own tongue-in-cheek epitaph for Gennaro "Jerry" Angiulo today, famed Boston Herald columnist and WRKO radio talk show host Howie Carr had the following to say on the former Boston mob boss in his oped "Angiulo not an everyman, but an every gangster":
Now Gerry is assuming room temperature, at the age of 90. But he leaves behind his classic comedy routines, as recorded on FBI bugs of his North End headquarters back in 1981. Gennaro Angiulo was, if not an everyman, then at least an every gangster, a hoodlum perpetually flummoxed by idiot offspring, incompetent employees, conniving colleagues and crooked cops.
You want an example? Here’s Angiulo trying to explain to a couple of his knuckle-dragging thugs how to kill a potential grand-jury witness against him. They just don’t get it. Finally, in exasperation, he utters these words:
“I don’t need tough guys! I need intelligent tough guys.” After unleashing a final flurry of f-bombs, Gerry dismisses them with these instructions:
“Just hit him in the head and stab him, okay? The jeopardy is just a little too much for me. You understand American? Okay, let’s go.”
You can find a lot more information on Gennaro "Jerry" Angiulo and many other Boston mobsters at Howie Carr's Whitey's World database and AmericanMafia.com. The aforementioned 'The Underboss' is perhaps the best and most detailed account of Angiulo's ascendancy to the pinnacle of LCN leadership in Boston, even more so on the methods the FBI employed to finally bring Gennaro "Jerry" Angiulo to justice.
More about Gennaro angiulo, Howie carr, Joe barboza, Boston, Mafia
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