The American Mafia

Crime Bosses
of New England

New England

Providence RI,
Boston MA

The New England Mafia, sometimes known as "the Office," has two traditional headquarters: Providence and North Boston and a number of regional factions. Periodically, the two major branches were "ruled" by different men. (This has created confusion for historians looking for a single boss in the region.) Adjoining portions of other states, including most of the eastern half of Connecticut are considered part of the New England mob's turf. Due to the presence of other powerful underworld forces there, the City of Boston has traditionally taken a back seat to heavily Italian Providence. The New England Crime Family seems to have had an especially difficult time integrating Boston's Irish gangsters.

New England territory

Map approximates the area controlled by the New England Mafia.

1916 - Frank Morelli (? to ?). A hazy figure in organized crime history, "Butsey" Morelli was reportedly an immigrant who initially settled in Brooklyn, NY, and then moved to Providence, Rhode Island. Morelli and his brothers allegedly performed a number of daring robberies. (Some believe them responsible for the crimes charged against Sacco and Vanzetti.) Morelli is believed to have controlled a minor Mafia family based in Providence through the Prohibition Era.

1916 - Gaspare Messina (Born Salemi Sicily, Aug. 7, 1879. Died Somerville MA, June 15, 1957.) Messina entered the United States through New York City late in 1905. He and his wife settled for a time in Brooklyn. By 1915, they relocated to Boston, where Messina became "rappresentante" of the local Sicilian underworld. In the Prohibition Era, Messina partnered with Frank Cucchiara and Paolo Pagnotta in the G. Messina & Co. wholesale grocery business of Prince Street. He moved his family to Somerville, MA, around 1926. In the late 1920s, he became president of the Neptune Oil Corporation. Messina temporarily served as boss of bosses over the American Mafia during the 1930-31 Castellammarese War. He likely lived in New York City while serving in that capacity. The Boston Mafia was small and relatively weak under Messina.

1920 - Joe Lombardo (Born Sept. 1, 1895. Died 1969.) Lombardo held a ill-defined position of leadership in the New England Mafia. It seems likely that he was viewed as a boss in the region, serving as arbiter of disputes between the several Sicilian gangs in Boston and those in nearby New England regions. Lombardo is believed to have been responsible for the December 1931 assassination of Frankie Wallace, leader of the powerful South Side Boston Irish mob known as the Gustin Gang. Some sources insist that Lombardo did not rank higher than underboss or consigliere within the Boston Mafia administration of Philip Buccola.

Phil Buccola

1924 - Filippo Buccola (1886 to 1987). Phil Buccola (also spelled Bruccola) moved from Palermo to the U.S. in 1920. He was likely a player in the Sicilian Mafia before crossing the Atlantic. Some believe he was called to the U.S. to take control of a Sicilian gang in Boston. He appears to have led a group in Boston's East Side during the 1920s. Some sources indicate that Buccola took over the leadership of the Boston Mafia upon Messina's death in 1924. But Messina's death in that year is not certain, as at least one source has him serving as American Mafia boss of bosses briefly around 1930.

1947 - According to Mafia turncoat Vincent Teresa, Joe Lombardo sent Frank Morelli into retirement and promoted Filippo Buccola to the leadership of a combined Boston-Providence crime family. Raymond Patriarca

1954 - Raymond Loreto Salvatore Patriarca (March 17, 1908 to July 7, 1984). Buccola retired to Sicily in 1954, leaving the combined New England Mafia organization in the capable hands of Patriarca. Massachusetts-born Patriarca had a long criminal history and had graduated to the position of capo in the Buccola mob. Upon becoming New England boss, he centered his operations in Providence and allied himself with the small Profaci-Colombo family in New York. Henry Tameleo (July 12, 1901, to August 1985), who transferred into New England from New York City's Bonanno family, served as his Providence underboss. In the mid-1960s, the Patriarca organizations put down underworld challenges from William Marfeo and Rocco DiSeglio.

Gennaro Angiulo

1969 - Gennaro J. Angiulo (1919 to ?). With Patriarca constantly hounded by authorities, Angiulo - who had worked gambling rackets as a mob affiliate during the 1950s and early 1960s - allegedly took a leadership role in the Boston wing of the New England family. While never a part of the Providence inner circle, he allegedly functioned as underboss in Boston through Patriarca's death in 1984.

1984 - William Grasso (1927 to June 16, 1989). Patriarca died of a heart attack on July 7, 1984. Underboss Angiulo was reportedly not considered boss material. (Angiulo was targeted by law enforcement in the 1980s and sent off to a long prison stay upon a racketeering conviction in 1986.) Patriarca's son was allegedly installed as boss, but Grasso appears to have been the actual power in New England.

Nicholas Bianco

1989 - Nicholas Bianco (1932 to Nov. 14, 1994). Grasso's corpse was found on June 16, 1989. Bianco, who had decades of experience in the New York (Profaci-Colombo family) and New England underworlds, was next to be appointed boss. Bianco was jailed two years later and died in federal prison on Nov. 14, 1994.