Reputed Patriarca crime family captain Joe Ruggiero was with former New England mafia boss Francis (Cadillac Frank) Salemme in December 1994 when then-South Boston mobster Stevie (The Rifleman) Flemmi informed Salemme of a looming federal racketeering indictment. Salemme already knew of the legal peril headed in his direction though, per Flemmi’s testimony at Salemme murder trial this week.

A Rhode Island native, Ruggiero, 68, allegedly runs his rackets out of Fall River, Massachusetts, a tough factory town located between Boston and Providence. In the 1990s, Ruggiero was a frequent companion of Salemme, who fled the northeast and was a fugitive for seven months following learning a January 1995 indictment was on its way. Ruggiero has no criminal record to speak of.

The 84-year old Cadillac Frank is on trial for the 1993 gangland slaying of mob associate Stevie DiSarro, who, according to prosecutors, was killed for stealing from their partnership in a famous “Southie” nightclub-turned-strip joint and informing for the government. DiSarro’s remains were discovered in Providence two years ago and Salemme was dragged out of the Witness Protection Program and hit with homicide charges.

Salemme led the New England mob in the early-to-mid 1990s before joining Team America in 1999. Flemmi, 83, jumped ship in 2003 and told authorities he happened upon the 43-year old DiSarro being strangled to death inside Salemme’s Sharon, Massachusetts residence by Salemme’s late son as Cadillac Frank watched on.

Cadillac Frank and Flemmi were longtime allies in the topsy-turvy New England underworld, participating in numerous murders together. However, Flemmi, a member of the mostly Irish Winter Hill Gang, was a confidential FBI informant feeding the feds intelligence about Salemme’s criminal dealings for years without his knowledge. Because some of his FBI handlers were on the payroll for Flemmi and his storied Winter Hill Gang cohort James (Whitey) Bulger, he got valuable information about him and his gangland associates back in return.

Around the 1994 Christmas holiday season, Flemmi received word from his government moles that a giant racketeering indictment was coming down the pike, slated for filing on January 10, 1995. The indictment charging Salemme, Flemmi and Bulger, among others, actually landed earlier then that, dropping on January 5.

According to Flemmi’s testimony, almost immediately after finding this out, he swung by the Salemme family home in suburban Boston, the same one DiSarro is said to been brutally slain at 18 months earlier, and encountered Cadillac Frank, his son, Francis (Frankie Boy) Salemme, Jr. and Joe Ruggiero. He thought he would be the first one to alert, the elder Salemme of the news, but Salemme had his own mole in law enforcement and had already found out. Shortly thereafter, Cadillac Frank fled, not being apprehended until the following August in West Palm Beach.

Flemmi was arrested Christmas shopping in downtown Boston. Bulger lasted 16 years on the run. Flemmi testified at Bulger’s 2013 trial, where Bulger, 88, was convicted of taking part in more than a dozen slayings.

Ruggiero is closely tied to retired Patriarca crime family Godfather Luigi (Baby Shacks) Manocchio, 90 years old and living in the sun in Florida. While Manocchio was boss in the late 1990s and most of the 2000s, Ruggiero allegedly worked business deals with him and sometimes acted as a driver and bodyguard, per Rhode Island State Police records. FBI agents followed the pair on a trip to Italy to scout potential real estate buys.

One RISP document cites informants telling them that Manocchio sent Ruggiero into Fall River in 1997 after high-level mob associate Gerard (The Frenchman) Ouimette, the Patriarca clan’s previous point man in the region, was incarcerated, to take his place. That same document contains reference to a 1999 shouting match Ruggiero engaged in with another Fall River racketeer named Tim (Timmy the Bat) Mello at a amateur boxing match — Mello had been a “Salemme guy.” Since planting roots in Fall River, Ruggiero has made headlines for his business purchases in the area and his tight personal relationships with political officials, including the former Mayor.

 

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