Mafia investigations still a priority for FBI
The New England mob is alive and well despite the recent arrest of its former boss, state and federal mob investigators say.
“When you have the opportunity to take a person off the street who has been preying on society and committing crimes for as alleged by the indictment for an extended period of time. That's obviously something that's important to us,” said Jeff Sallet, supervisor-in-charge of organized crime investigations for the FBI’s Boston division.
Sallet was referring to the arrest of purported former New England mafia boss Luigi “Baby Shanks” Manocchio, who along with an associate is accused of extorting cash protection payments from strip clubs in Providence for nearly two decades. He was arrested last month along with nearly 130 others, mostly from New York and New Jersey, in the largest organized crime bust in FBI history.
Authorities say Manocchio was boss of the New England mob from 1995 to 2009, but the FBI arrested him not in Rhode Island, his former base, but in Florida.
“Why go after Manocchio now and not some time ago?” asked FOX Undercover reporter Mike Beaudet.
“The answer to that is justice delayed is not justice denied. And anybody who is committing crimes, we're going to hold them accountable,” Sallet replied.
Sallet stresses the FBI's investigation is ongoing.
“There is a new boss. Unfortunately, I'm not in a position to discuss that based on FBI policy,” he said. “They were a very robust organization when this started. They still remain a viable threat.
FOX Undercover reported just over a year ago that the power center for the New England Mafia shifted from Providence to Boston and that law enforcement believes the new boss is Peter Limone.
A chart created by the FBI in the 1980s outlines the organization of the Boston Mafia in 1983, showing that at that time, the incarcerated Limone was listed as a capo, or captain, underneath Boston mob boss Jerry Angiulo.
FOX Undercover’s camera captured Limone on video in 2009 meeting with other reputed leaders of the New England Mafia at an East Boston restaurant.
Limone, who served 33 years before his murder conviction was thrown out, pleaded no contest last July to running an organized crime gambling ring but avoided going to jail. He received a two-and-a-half year suspended sentence.
Asked if Limone belongs in prison, State Police Lt. Steve Johnson, a veteran organized crime investigator, replied, “Yes.”
“He did a lot of time for a crime that he may not have had a reason to be convicted of. And sometimes the justice system evens things out,” Johnson said.
In his latest case, the court ordered Limone to stay away from a long list of reputed mobsters.
“Fair to say he was a significant player?” asked FOX Undercover’s Beaudet.
“Fair to say he is a significant player,” Johnson replied.
Another significant player, according to Johnson, is Mafia captain Mark Rossetti, who was arrested along with more than two dozen others last year, accused of running a violent organized crime network involved in drugs, gambling, and loansharking.
“Rossetti's arrest was significant. He was a significant player in the upper management of the mob. A very respected guy. Very feared on the street,” Johnson said.
But Rossetti is now off the streets, as another purported high-ranking mobster, Carmen DiNunzio.
“It's not your father's Mafia,” said Johnson.
Despite the fact that Manocchio is 83 years old, the FBI’s Sallet said he still posed a threat.
“So the fact that you have an 82 year old or an 83 year old man who would appear to somebody to be harmless, he's in a position to get people who are much more dangerous to come out and to do something to back him up,” he said.
The State Police’s Johnson agrees.
“There's still some very feared people out there and the potential for violence is always out there, particularly when there's a regime change,” Johnson said.
Peter Limone's attorney, Juliane Balliro says it's outrageous to suggest her client is running the New England Mafia, or even a part of it, saying it's not true.
Balliro says, "I think that (organized crime investigators) need to move on with their lives and get off the Peter Limone bandwagon. It's done. It's over. They need a new story."
The attorney for Mark Rossetti, Randi Potash, also denies her client is part of the Mafia, saying Rossetti remains an innocent man, wrongly accused.