The FBI continued its relentless assault on the mafia in New England last week, indicting alleged acting Patriarca Family boss, Anthony (Spucky) Spagnolo on charges of extortion based on collecting thousands of dollars of protection money from Boston-area Constitution Vending and the Revere Moose Lodge, a local social club.
Spagnolo, 72, lives in suburban Revere and, according to the federal government, took the reins of the New England mafia on a day-to-day basis two years ago when his predecessor, Anthony DiNunzio, 55, was sent to prison for racketeering related to his extortion of a pair of Rhode Island strip clubs.
A convicted drug dealer and racketeer himself, Spagnolo’s current charges hold a sentence of up to two decades in prison. He is the most-recent of the over half-dozen leaders of the Patriarca clan to get jammed up with the law in the past five years, holding the distinction of being the seventh New England mob Don in a row to be indicted (the six before him were all convicted).
According to last week’s indictment, Spagnolo instructed fellow “made man” Pryce (Stretch) Quintina, 74, to shake down Constitution Vending and the Revere Moose Lodge, where Constitution had several video poker machines for, “at least $50,000 in an eight-year period from 2004 to 2012.” When one of the men that ran the Revere Moose Lodge decided to try to remove the machines provided by Constitution Vending and replace them with machines from another vending company, he was called to a meeting with Spagnolo and threatened with violence. After a rival vending company contacted the Revere Moose Lodge and attempting to persuade them to use their machines, instead of Constitution Vending’s, the owner of the company was approached by Spagnolo and also threatened, told to back off.
Getting his start in the East Boston faction of the New England mafia, Spucky Spagnolo, whose nickname derives from the mispronunciation of a previous moniker (“Spunky”) he had during adolescence, was a protégé of deceased syndicate consigliere, Joseph (J.R.) Russo. As a young Goodfella, Spagnolo was running buddies with Russo’s step brother, Robert (Bobby Russo) Corrozza. The two acted as a collection team on behalf of the East Boston mob czar.
Spucky is known as a character.
“He’s got a good sense of humor, the kind of guy that doesn’t make any apologies for being a wiseguy,” said one former FBI agent familiar with Spagnolo from his earlier days in the Boston underworld. “He’d joke around with us sometimes when we were trailing him around town. But he was as serious as cancer when it came to his business.”
Once when him, Corrozza and another Patriarca soldier named Frederick (Freddy the Neighbor) Simone were pulled over in his car shortly after they were reported to police for the beating up of a Revere nightclub owner refusing to pay street tax, the cops found a pair of guns wrapped in a towel under the passenger’s seat.
“How’d those get there?,” Spucky was quoted as asking the officers with a wry smile.
Sponsored by Russo, Spagnolo was inducted into La Cosa Nostra by the Family’s namesake Raymond Patriarca in an early-1980s ceremony, Patriarca’s first after being released from prison on a murder conspiracy conviction, per sources in Boston law enforcement.
His arrest record dates back to the late 1950s, with charges ranging from public drunkenness and disturbing the peace to narcotics trafficking, armed robbery and racketeering.
FBI records allege that Spagnolo traveled to California with Russo to murder infamous New England mob strong-arm turned government witness Joseph (Joe the Animal) Barboza in 1976. Multiple informants told their FBI handlers that Spagnolo acted as the getaway driver and look-out on February 11, 1976 while Russo shot-gunned Barboza on a San Francisco street corner.
Throughout the 1980s, Spagnolo frequented “The Roma,” an East Boston Italian eatery owned by Biagio DiGiacomo, a Sicilian-born Patriarca Family captain. In 1985, DiGiacomo’s crew, which at that time was a sub-faction of J.R. Russo’s regime and included Spagnolo, was infiltrated by an undercover FBI agent named Vincent DelaMontaigne.
A year and a half prior, DelaMontaigne had rented a hardware store next door to The Roma and began hanging around the restaurant’s bar, purporting to be a professional criminal and cocaine-dealer. Over the course of his undercover work, he became close with both DiGiacomo and Spagnolo. DelaMontaigne and Spagnolo ran illegal card games and sold drugs together throughout 1985, 1986 and parts of 1987. On one occasion in 1986, Spagnolo got into a verbal altercation with a patron at The Roma and DelaMontaigne had to stop him from stabbing the man with a 12-inch hunting knife he was brandishing.
Spucky’s name surfaced in the investigation into the October 28, 1985 slaying of Jimmy Limoli, a North End Boston wiseguy and close friend of another Russo protégé, Vincent (Vinnie the Animal) Ferrara. Limoli had allegedly angered his superiors in the mob by operating drug rip-off scams and was said to have stolen $100,000 worth of cocaine from Spagnolo in September of that year. Spagnolo went to Limoli’s capo and childhood pal, Ferrara and complained about Limoli boosting his coke and attended numerous sit-downs with syndicate administrators and Limoli himself to try to resolve the issue, according to police records.
Ferrara and Limoli had come up together in the North End, Boston’s Little Italy neighborhood, working for longtime Patriarca underboss Gerry Angiulo, allegedly both taking part in the 1977 murder of Jackie DiFronzo and the 1979 murder of Anthony (Dapper Tony) Corlito, a pair of rivals and bitter enemies of Ferrara that were robbing Angiulo-backed underground casinos.
Ferrara was inducted into La Cosa Nostra in 1983, eventually inheriting the crew of Danny Angiulo, Gerry’s brother and his former capo, and aligning with Russo crosstown in East Boston in an intra-Family war against Francis (Cadillac Frank) Salemme and Raymond (Ray Rubber Lips) Patriarca, Jr.
Vinnie the Animal and another of his associates Patsy Barone were both convicted of Limoli’s murder in 1991 and 1993 respectively, but released from their prison sentences early due to the main witness against them, a former gangster pal of theirs named Walter
Jordan, recanting his testimony and the federal prosecutor not informing counsel for Ferrara or Barone of the development during plea-bargain negotiations.
Barone was the alleged shooter in the Limoli hit (which took place in front of a local restaurant), Vinnie the Animal allegedly ordered it. The Boston College-educated Ferrara, 65, once viewed as a certain future Godfather in the Patriarca Family, is currently retired from his life in the mob and running a series of legitimate businesses in the North End since being released from behind bars in 2005.
In January 1987, with the Beantown crime syndicate on the verge of erupting into violence and splitting into an all-out civil war, Spagnolo was tape-recorded telling the wired-for-sound DelaMontaigne, “Things are tough these days in the mafia…I might have to go back to making money the old-fashioned way, pulling kids out of their sneakers and emptying their fucking pockets.”
The turmoil in the New England underworld temporarily ceased in the fall of 1989, months after Salemme survived an assassination attempt and Patriarca, Jr.’s underboss William (Billy the Wild Man) Grasso was killed, with a conciliatory “making” ceremony of Russo and Ferrara loyalists that was taped by the FBI with the help of Boston mob turncoat Angelo (Sonny) Mercurio.
Spagnolo and Quintina, members of the Russo-Ferrara faction of the conflict, were each present at the recorded induction that took place at a house in suburban Medford on October 29, 1989. Audio surveillance of the ceremony and the undercover work of DelaMontaigne were both included as part of a massive 1990 federal racketeering case levied against the Patriarca Family which ensnared, Spagnolo, Patriarca, Jr., Russo, Ferrara and DiGiacomo, among others.
With the entire leadership of the New England mob either dead or in jail, Cadillac Frank Salemme assumed control of the Family and began taking vengeance on those who had tried to kill him, a period of bloodshed in the early 1990s that resulted in at least another half-dozen casualties. Salemme was busted on racketeering offenses in 1995 and eventually became an informant.
Convicted in 1991, Spagnolo served nine years in prison and was released in 2000, almost immediately being named a capo upon hitting the street again as reward for keeping his mouth shut.
Quintina is the nephew of former Patriarca Family consigliere Charles (Q-Ball) Quintina (held the post in the 1990s) and took his first arrest in 1967 on a New Hampshire state assault charge, which he was found guilty of.
Stretch and his Uncle Q-Ball were indicted and convicted together on extortion and racketeering charges in the mid-1990s. The younger Quintina served an eight-year prison bit and was released in 2002. In his heyday, he was known as an eager enforcer.
“Let me bounce this guy off the fucking wall,” he was recorded asking Boston mobster and future Patriarca underboss Alexander (Sonny Boy) Rizzo at a wired-up apartment of a mutual acquaintance as the pair were trying to intimidate an indebted gambler in 1992.
Pryce Quintina is still considered a suspect in the 1981 gangland murder of mob associate and convicted felon Angelo Patrizzi, however has never been charged. Rizzo was tasked by Gerry Angiulo with organizing Patrizzi’s execution and put together a hit squad, that some say included Quintina. Patrizzi was kidnapped from outside his apartment on St. Patrick’s Day, strangled to death and left hogtied in the trunk of a stolen car for getting into a public spat with Angiulo over Patrizzi’s belief that Angiulo had ordered Freddy Simone and another Patriarca “button man,” Connie Frizi, to murder his half-brother Joe Porter in 1978 while he was away in prison. Anguilo and Rizzo were convicted in Patrizzi’s murder.
The Boston mob is currently in disarray, ravished by convictions and defections and the current indictment of “old guard-types” Spagnolo and Quintina appears to be another nail in the syndicate’s coffin.
Since Luigi (Baby Shacks) Manocchio, the man that had stabilized the New England mafia at the beginning of the New Millennium in the wake of the power struggle that enveloped the Family in the late-1980s and early 1990s, retired in 2009 (he was swooped up and sent to jail on extortion charges in 2011), the syndicate has seen powerful capos Robert (Bobby the Cigar) DeLuca of Rhode Island and Mark Rosetti of East Boston join Team U.S.A and all three of Manocchio’s direct successors hit with racketeering indictments.
Law enforcement sources in the area tab Peter (The Crazy Horse) Limone the official Boss of the Patriarcas right now, having taken the reins from Manocchio five years ago and desiring a hands-off approach to leadership, assigning an “acting boss,” first Anthony DiNunzio until 2012 and then Spagnolo to look after day-to-day affairs on his behalf.
Limone, 80, was wrongly convicted and imprisoned for the 1965 murder of Irish hoodlum Teddy Deegan, based on false information provided by Joe “The Animal” Barboza. Serving 33 years in prison for the crime, Limone was released in 2001 after his conviction was overturned, him and his co-defendants awarded 102 million dollars in damages. Pocketing a cool 26 million himself, he was nabbed on loansharking, extortion and sports gambling charges in 2010, pleading no contest and receiving five years of probation.
Following their bookings on their charges last week, Spagnolo and Quintina were both released on bond and fitted for ankle-bracelet monitors.
“I don’t know what it says about things in the Family these days that Spucky is the Boss,” questioned the former Fed. “I never took him to be Don-material. He’s a loyal soldier through-and-through, but for heading the whole ship, I don’t think he’s necessarily sharp enough or holds enough reverence to be the one that puts things back together.”