Seasoned Springfield, Massachusetts mob enforcer Rex Cunningham and is longtime gangland running buddy Brian Hoyle were indicted this week on a bevy of state racketeering charges, including counts of sports gambling, money laundering and loan sharking. They aren’t unfamiliar to handcuffs.

Wednesday’s indictment is the second organized crime case to hit the Springfield mob in as many months. Five Springfield wiseguys were indicted by the feds in the first week of August, headed by infamous Western Mass “bad boy” Ralphie Santaniello (49), the alleged ad-hoc co-crew boss in the region these days. Like the five-pack before them last month, Cunningham and Hoyle pled not guilty. Santaniello is being held without bail after it was revealed he threatened to kill an extortion victim.

The 65-year old Cunningham was groomed in the Springfield mafia – a satellite wing of New York’s Genovese crime family – by local mob elder statesman Mario Fiore and throughout the 1980s and first half of the 1990s became known as the area’s most-feared collector working for the notorious Scibelli brothers, even stalking a debtor to his sister’s wake in order to assault him. Fiore is 80 and said to be in semi-retirement.

Masslive.com resident Western Mass mobologist Stephanie Barry reported back in the spring that two Springfield area watering holes tied to the half-Iris, half-Italian Cunningham were raided by state authorities in connection with a criminal probe into Cunningham’s activities. According to the indictment, Cunningham and Hoyle (59), both convicted felons, headquartered their current set of reputed rackets at the New O’Brien’s Corner Bar & Grill, one of the taverns raided in April.

The pair was busted together on racketeering charges in 1992 and did stiff terms behind bars as guests of the federal government (Cunningham was released in 2011, Hoyle came out in 2009). Back in the 80s and 90s, Cunningham’s home base was Dillon’s Tavern.

If convicted in this current state case, they face maximum 25-year prison sentences. Cunningham’s ruthlessness was on display in the following snippet of FBI surveillance from the early 1990s, where he’s caught bragging about beating a man unmercifully who borrowed $15,000.

“Oh yeah, well I got ’em, his sister died. we sat outside the wake. That’s where I got ’em. I went myself because, I prefer that. I sat outside the wake. I followed him, a perfect tail. Followed him and as he got out of the car, I grabbed him and threw him outta of the fucking car. I took him behind the Gaslight (Lounge). Had three guys waiting there, we beat him with fucking pipes, tire irons. I dropped his car keys on his chest. I told him we just beat your ass. And I said I’ll call an ambulance for you. We left him bleeding all over the place….When he got out of the car at first, I said to him the bad news is, I said, the bad news is this aint no meeting like I told you. And I said nobody’s here but me and I’m gonna beat your ass. Then I smashed him in the face and he went down and them three guys come out from behind a dumpster a couple minutes later. And I backed off and I said, ‘one guy at a time and don’t hit him in the head’. He went down pretty quick and he didn’t wake up ’til the next week”

In an interview with Barry in late 2011, a little less than a year after he was sprung from prison, Cunningham discussed the good ole days compared to the modern-day mob landscape in Springfield.

“We had a tough group of guys…..if you did something wrong you took a beating,” he said. “There’s still money on the street. Everyone is still taking bets, but it’s a free for all….its’ a viper’s nest of snakes and rats.”

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