Updated news on the Gambino, Genovese, Bonanno, Lucchese and Colombo Organized Crime Families of New York City.

Friday, October 11, 2013

Businessman identified as a made member of the New England Mafia

In June 2012, when Joseph Ruggiero Sr. ascended from his relatively obscure role as a Fall River bar owner to sweep onto the city scene as the new owner of the well-known Fall River Ford dealership, he walked the 5½-acre lot and spoke of the future.

He called the $3.2 million deal “a good investment,” predicting further investment in the property of up to $2 million and a restoration of the dwindling work force to a full staff of 55. A Ford Motor Co. executive heralded the purchase as “a great day.”

Less than a year later, Ruggiero was well on his way to cementing his stamp on Fall River. Mayor Will Flanagan credited Ruggiero with “saving” the South End dealership along with “hundreds” of jobs, Ruggiero was unanimously voted onto the board of the Fall River Office of Economic Development and he acquiesced to the mayor’s personal plea to bid on the crumbling Bedford Street police station. Ruggiero’s public persona was indeed celebrated.

Court documents and interviews, however, present a different image of Ruggiero, identified by the head of the Rhode Island State Police as a “made man.”

Documents filed in the United States District Court for the District of Rhode Island on Feb. 28, 2011, connected to the trial of Luigi “Baby Shacks” Manocchio — a former head of the New England La Cosa Nostra — identifies local businessman Joseph Ruggiero Sr. as a member of the secret criminal organization.

Along with eight other defendants, Manocchio was accused, and later convicted, of leading a scheme to shake down the owners of strip clubs in Providence, dating back to the 1990s.

The court filing was a motion to prohibit Manocchio from obtaining bail before he went to trial. As part of the prosecutor’s argument, Manocchio lied to investigators about not leaving the country since 2001, but in fact had flown to Italy with a person identified as “NELCN member Joseph Ruggiero” in 2009.

According to the document, a confidential FBI informant said the pair went to Italy to purchase property for Manocchio.

In a federal court document filed Dec. 20, 2012, Ruggiero is named again, this time as part of a special condition of probation for Manocchio’s co-defendant Theodore Cardillo.

U.S. District Judge William Smith ordered Cardillo to stay away from five men associated with organized crime, including Ruggiero.

Prior to these events, an FBI agent allegedly observed a heated exchange between Fall River crime ring leader Timothy Mello and La Cosa Nostra members identified as Ruggiero and another during a 1999 Golden Gloves tournament at the Police Athletic League on Franklin Street, according to the court documents.

Three years later, in coverage of Mello’s 2002 racketeering trial, The Herald News reported that court documents indicated the Patriarca La Cosa Nostra family wanted in on Mello’s gang’s action.

Col. Steven O’Donnell, superintendent of the Rhode Island State Police and a veteran mob investigator, said in a September interview that Mafia investigators have identified Ruggiero as a “made man” in the New England La Cosa Nostra, based on interviews with Mafia associates.

In the initiation to become a made man, O’Donnell said a member must be involved in a mob hit but not necessarily participate as the murderer.

O’Donnell said Ruggiero was close to known mobsters Frank Salemme, Robert DeLuca and Manocchio.

“He and Salemme go way back,” O’Donnell said.

Francis “Cadillac Frank” Salemme was once the head of the New England mob and served several years in prison after being indicted in 1995 on racketeering and other charges along with James “Whitey” Bulger Jr. and Stephen “The Rifleman” Flemmi, along with Robert DeLuca.

In 2008, Salemme was sentenced to five more years for lying to authorities investigating the FBI’s connections to organized crime.

At one point, Ruggiero hired Salemme’s son in one of his dealerships, O’Donnell said.
“Overall, when you sleep with dogs you get fleas,” O’Donnell said.

O’Donnell said the Mafia in New England has been decimated, but that doesn’t mean factions would not attempt to rebuild.

“Part of the oath of La Cosa Nostra is the maxim of power, greed and violence,” O’Donnell said.

Mobsters, he said, have different reasons for taking the oath, and some can be financial.
The FBI Boston bureau refused to be interviewed regarding Ruggiero.



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