FOX 25's Bob Ward opened his crime files on Wednesday night to bring us inside the eye opening story of a top New York mob boss who reportedly ran New York mob business out of Boston.
In late 2009, some of the biggest names in the New England mafia gathered at an East Boston restaurant after a wake to talk business. According to a federal indictment, as the men broke bread they discussed a number of family matters, including how exactly to split money extorted out of Rhode Island strip bars.
There was one mafia leader who was only a few miles away from the meeting, but probably wasn't invited. His name is Ralph DeLeo and there is a simple reason he wasn't in East Boston that night: the feds say Ralph DeLeo was a made member and a street boss of the New York Colombo crime family.
"This is the first time I have ever seen the acting street boss of a NY crime family in another area," says FBI Special Agent Todd Richards.
Richards says he has never seen this happen in his three decades of law enforcement. The special agent revealed for the first time during his interview with FOX 25's Bob Ward that the unassuming 70-year-old man, who lived in a basement apartment in Somerville, was not only a powerful mob figure, he was conducting New York crime family business in Boston.
"Mr. DeLeo was responsible for all of the daily criminal activity for the Colombo crime family which is based in New York, but he is doing it in Boston," Richards explains. "He is doing it in the Boston area, under the radar screen."
In the past, working on another family's turf could mean big trouble, but Special Agent Richards tells FOX 25 that DeLeo was different. He was the lifetime friend of a top aide to the late New England mob boss Gennaro Angiulo. While in prison years ago, DeLeo forged ties with the Colombo crime family.
"While in prison, Mr. DeLeo becomes a confident of Allyboy Persico, who is the acting boss of the family at the time, because his father, Carmine "The Snake" Persico, is also incarcerated. Because of that association, Mr. DeLeo is well-respected," Richards explains. "And upon his release from prison at some point, he becomes a made member of the Colombo crime family of New York."
The feds say Ralph DeLeo was mostly a telecommuting crime boss, but he would travel from Boston to New York to conduct business two or three times a month by car or plane. Back at home near Boston, DeLeo played it cool.
"He was actually a hard worker. He was a maintenance man for a local company. He put in a full days' work, then he got home, got on his computer, and read about the Colombo family and was very much involved in the daily activities of the Colombo family," says Richards.
On Hanover Street in Boston's North End, those political ties to two crime families gave Ralph DeLeo enormous respect and allowed him to run New York from Boston. In recent years, high level New England mob busts have left the local La Cosa Nostra reeling, creating a leadership vacuum. The mob might be down, but it's not out. The question that remains is who will lead the next Boston mob, a local guy or a New Yorker?
"I don't believe the Colombo family is here. I have not heard of another member of the Colombo family here, but we have looked at that with more scrutiny after we found Mr. DeLeo was operating in this area of operations," says Richards.