BOSTON (AP) - An alleged mob associate accused of trying to kill a Massachusetts mob boss tried to "reinvent" himself as a "self-styled cattle rancher" in Idaho, a federal prosecutor told a jury during opening statements at his racketeering trial Wednesday.
Enrico Ponzo was an associate of the Patriarca crime family who fled Massachusetts in 1994 to avoid charges of extortion and attempted murder, said Assistant U.S. Attorney Karen Beausey.
"All of that he was ... trying to flee and leave behind when he went on the lam in 1994," Beausey said.
Ponzo is accused of being among a group of men who attempted to kill Francis "Cadillac Frank" Salemme in 1989 during a war between rival factions of the crime family.
But Ponzo's lawyer, John Cunha, told the jury that Ponzo fled because he was afraid he would be killed by a member of the Mafia. He urged the jury to challenge the credibility of government witnesses who struck deals with prosecutors for shorter sentences and agreed to testify against Ponzo.
"As you listen to these people, keep in mind the powerful tool that the government has to elicit testimony that it wants," Cunha said.
Ponzo was captured in 2011 in Marsing, Idaho, a rural community near Boise. Prosecutors said he had been living quietly under an alias there for more than a decade.