As the sun set one fall night in 2009, a who’s-who of the New England Mafia arrived at an East Boston funeral home.
It was a wake for the mother of purported mob captain Mark Rossetti, but authorities now say there was more at foot than mourning. At the wake, and a dinner at a nearby restaurant afterward, there was also business to be discussed.
According to a federal indictment unsealed last month, a high ranking Mafia figure and another Mafia member “…discussed among other things, the distribution of proceeds from the extortion of, Rhode Island strip clubs….”
It was a meeting secretly caught on video by FOX Undercover, but we weren’t the only ones reporting on what happened.
The two Mafia figures, according to the indictment, were “known to the grand jury” which handed up the indictment, which likely means that at least one of these men testified about the meeting.
FOX Undercover reporter Mike Beaudet asked Michael Sullivan, a former US Attorney for Massachusetts, about the indictment.
“It seems like there's a rat in the restaurant,” Beaudet said.
“It doesn't necessarily have to be a rat, but I suspect people sitting at that meeting are trying to narrow it down in terms of who is the source of the information that they have in the indictment,” Sullivan replied.
“Clearly we weren't the only ones watching them that night,” Beaudet said.
“It doesn't appear that way based on the indictment,” Sullivan said.
That 2009 get-together included Peter Limone, whom authorities say was running the New England mob at the time, and Robert DeLuca, another alleged high-powered Mafioso from Providence, and other purported Mafia leaders, soldiers and associates. But in the two years since that meeting the ranks have been decimated by arrests and revelations of informants.
“Is the Mafia as we know it, over?” Beaudet asked Sullivan, who oversaw several organized crime investigations as the top federal prosecutor in the state.
“No, I can't say it's completely over. I think it's clearly been decimated and I think it's probably now being challenged by what's on the management side often referred to the Peter Principle, where people are being elevated within the organization because of the tremendous voids that have been created as a result of law enforcement activity,” Sullivan said.
The latest indictment came last month from the US Attorney’s office in Rhode Island. The indictment alleges that, starting around the time of the wake up until last month, a Mafia captain would travel from Rhode Island to Massachusetts "…to pay a portion of the money collected from the adult entertainment industry to the (New England Mafia) leadership."
Those charged in the latest case include Louis "Baby Shanks" Manocchio of Providence. Manocchio was the former boss of the New England Mafia until the power center shifted to Boston a few years ago, authorities say.
In addition to the latest indictment, state and federal authorities have charged many of the men they say ran the mob in New England, including Carmen “The Cheesman” DiNunzio, who's in federal prison. Limone pleaded no contest to running an organized crime gambling ring. Rossetti, the purported captain, and Darin Bufalino, another alleged Mafioso, are both locked up awaiting trial.
Rossetti is facing state charges alleging drug trafficking, gambling and extortion. As his case has proceeded, revelations have also surfaced that Rossetti was a long-time FBI informant who, while passing on information to the feds, was also allegedly committing serious, violent crimes.
“What happened to the code of silence?” Beaudet asked Sullivan.
“You wonder if it was ever really a true code of silence. It seems that as people began to get jammed up and they looked at these long sentences, in some instances, life sentences, they realized the person they're going to be most loyal to is themselves,” Sullivan replied.
FBI Supervisory Special Agent Jeff Sallet said as much at a press conference last month about the Providence indictments.
“The criminal activity of the New England La Cosa Nostra has been severely disrupted. In simple terms, the Providence Organized Crime Task Force has shattered omerta, the New England (La Cosa Nostra’s) code of silence,” Sallet said.
He added, “We will use every capability and tool we have at our disposal to continue dismantling the New England La Cosa Nostra and thwart other groups from being entrenched in our communities.”
The Massachusetts State Police declined to comment for this story, citing the ongoing criminal case involving Rossetti. The FBI agreed to an interview but, after learning the State Police declined to talk, later cancelled that interview.
Sullivan suspects there are serious players still around, “But they're certainly on everybody's radar screen.”
“I'm confident that they're constantly looking over their shoulders because they know there is no loyalty within the organization…when they've seen over a period of time some of the higest ranking members of their organziation become cooperators with the government, they know that they can't trust anybody,” Sullivan said.