That Time When The Dapper Don Saved The Day In Boston: Gotti Got Patriarca Mob Insurgence To Stand Down



December 16, 2020 – Larger-than-life New York Godfather John Gotti brokered peace for the Patriarca crime family after a mob shooting war erupted in New England more than 30 years ago at a series of meetings held in New York City in late 1989, per FBI informant files. Gotti’s famous right-hand man during his reign as America’s most notorious mafia don, Sammy (The Bull) Gravano, will allegedly tell the story in one of his upcoming episodes of his new Our Thing Podcast. Gotti and Gravano ran New York’s Gambino crime family.

Known as the “Dapper Don” for his high-fashion sense, Gotti died in prison of cancer in 2002. Gravano went on to become the biggest New York mafia figure to ever turn witness for the government and testified against Gotti at his 1992 trial in which he was found guilty of racketeering and murder.

The New England mafia imploded in the summer of 1989 when the Patriarca crime family split into two rival camps, one based in Providence and headed by the family’s flailing boss Raymond Patriarca, Jr., son of the syndicate’s deceased namesake, and the other out of Boston run by old-school capo Joe (J.R.) Russo. The Russo crew killed Patriarca, Jr.’s underboss Billy (The Wild Man) Grasso and severely wounded his Boston skipper Francis (Cadillac Frank) Salemme in two separate, yet coordinated attacks on June 13, 1989. Patriarca, Jr. was a “silver spoon” gangster and needed the violence-prone Grasso and Salemme for cover and muscle in his beleaguered regime.

Grasso, who headquartered out of New Haven, Connecticut, was shot to death in a van that afternoon and his body them dumped on the banks of the Connecticut River. Salemme survived an assassination attempt that morning in the parking lot of a suburban Boston International House of Pancakes, incurring seven bullet wounds before taking refuge in a nearby pizza parlor. In the days that followed, Patriarca, Jr. was called to a meeting in the backroom of a Rhode Island jewelry store by Russo and instructed to immediately step aside or he would be murdered.

Patriarca, Jr. shed tears at the meeting and begged for his life, per informants, but refused to give up the boss’ seat, feeling he was protected by the support of Providence mob elder statesman Nicky Bianco, popular amongst the New York mafia elite. By the end of the summer, with Cadillac Frank Salemme gone into hiding in California and Patriarca, Jr. having no more representation in Boston, Russo and other Massachusetts capos had essentially gone rogue and cut off all communication with the “home office” in Rhode Island.

According to Gravano’s debriefing with the feds, Russo met with Gotti at the Labor Day weekend wedding of Genovese crime family soldier Joseph (Joe Glitz) Galizia on September 2, 1989 at a Long Island, New York banquet hall to discuss Gotti intervening in the dispute. Gotti instructed Russo to stand down and not to engage in any further shooting, promising to rein in Patriarca, Jr. and fix the problem.

Weeks later, Gotti summoned Patriarca, Jr. and Nicky Bianco to a meeting at a Manhattan hotel suite, per Gravano. Gotti arranged the face-to-face through his then underboss Frank (Frankie Loc) Locascio and Florida capo Natale (Big Chris) Richichi, responsible for being Gotti’s liaison to other crime families. At the meeting, Gotti convinced Patriarca, Jr. to name Russo his consigliere, induct a handful of Russo’s men into the borgata and let Bianco look after the crime family on a daily basis. Locascio and Gravano soon switched places and Frankie Loc became Gotti’s consigliere and Sammy the Bull his underboss.

The FBI made history and recorded the October 29, 1989 making ceremony conducted in a small residence in Medford, Massachusetts, just outside Boston, that buried the proverbial hatchet by bringing four Russo loyalists from Beantown and Rhode Island’s Robert (Bobby the Cigar) DeLuca, Cadillac Frank Salemme’s eyes and ears in Providence, into the Patriarca organization. Patriarca, Jr. and Russo both addressed the attendees and spoke of letting bygones be bygones, Salemme, particularly loathed by Russo and his powerbase, remained in exile out on the west coast.

Upon Patriarca, Jr., Russo and Bianco getting swooped up in a 1990 racketeering case, Cadillac Frank returned to Boston, got Gotti’s support — in a meeting set up by Big Chris Richichi — and took over the Patriarca clan. His time as boss was bloody, with Salemme seeking vengeance against those he deemed culpable for trying to kill him in the Saugus, Massachusetts pancake house shooting.

Salemme and DeLuca would eventually join Sammy the Bull Gravano in the witness box and enter the Witness Protection Program — Salemme has since been pulled out of the program and convicted of ordering a 1993 gangland slaying.

Cadillac Frank and Patriarca, Jr. fell out of favor with each other when Salemme replaced him as boss. Salemme, 88, is doing life in prison. Patriarca, Jr. came out of prison and retired. Russo and Bianco died behind bars.

This article was originally posted here