The New England Mafia, known as The Office, includes two distinct metropolitan headquarters – Boston, Massachusetts, and Providence, Rhode Island. Its traditional rackets territory includes all of Rhode Island, much of Massachusetts, eastern Connecticut (the Connecticut River is generally regarded as its western boundary) and coastal areas of New Hampshire and Maine. Mafiosi in New England have traditionally had close relationships with those in the New York City area.
There has been an especially close historic relationship between New England leadership and the Profaci/Colombo Crime Family based in Brooklyn and Staten Island. Gaspare Messina 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. Frank Morelli 1924 – Frank Morelli (Feb. 22, 1896, to Aug. 10, 1965). A hazy figure in organized crime histories, “Butsey” Morelli has been described as an immigrant who initially settled in Brooklyn, NY, or a Brooklyn-born son of immigrants who moved to Providence, Rhode Island, around the time of World War I. These accounts are inaccurate. Morelli was, in fact, born in Providence (one of his brothers was born in Italy, two were born in France and another was born in Brooklyn), and his family called Providence home by 1895, long before World War I.
Oldest brother Joseph Morelli formed his brothers and some youths from their neighborhood into a robbery gang in the years before Prohibition. Freight cars were a favorite target until federal authorities managed to secure convictions against Joe and Frank Morelli and several others and send them away for terms in federal prison. (Some believe the Morelli brothers were responsible for the South Braintree, Massachusetts, robbery-murders
for which Sacco and Vanzetti were convicted and executed.) Frank Morelli was released from prison in the early 1920s and set to organizing rackets around Providence.
While never recognized as boss of the New England region, Morelli was respected for decades as the leader of Providence organized crime. 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 (Aug. 6, 1886 to October 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 11, 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 (March 20, 1919, to Aug. 29, 2009). 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 (Jan. 6, 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 of Ne Haven, Connecticut, appears to have briefly held power in New England. Nicholas Bianco 1989 – Nicholas Bianco (March 21, 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.