New England mafia soldier Ralph (Ralphie Chong) Lamattina died of natural causes earlier this month (April 10, 2017). He was a ripe 94 years old and came from the Patriarca crime family’s Boston wing. Longtime Boston Herald mob scribe Howie Carr first reported Ralphie Chong’s passing in Sunday’s paper.

From the 1960s into the 1980s, Lamattina belonged to deceased captain Larry Zannino’s North End crew and did two years in state prison for being an accessory after the fact in the 1966 double murder of Arthur (Tash) Bratsos and Thomas (Tommy D) De Prisco and five years as a guest of the federal government for a racketeering conviction. Lamattina went on the run from his 1984 RICO bust for more than a decade, fleeing to Florida, then Italy before finally landing in federal custody in the mid-1990s. The man nicknamed for eyes his friends told him made him look Asian had been free since June 2000.

Bratsos and his bodyguard De Prisco were part of turncoat gangster and hit man Joe (The Animal) Barboza’s ragtag crew and were slain inside Ralphie Chong’s Nite Lite Cafe, a popular after-hours joint and social club, for shaking down area businesses in an effort to raise bail money for the Portuguese Barboza . The hits were ordered by Zannino, a rival of Bratsos’ for years after Zannino killed his older brother Jimmy in the 1950s. Barboza himself was shot-gunned to death in 1976 outside his San Francisco apartment where he was living in hiding under an assumed identity.

FBI files and Massachusetts State Police documents paint Lamattina as Zannino’s most trusted lieutenant and the man in charge of his crew’s gambling and loansharking operations in the 1970s and early 1980s. According to these records, multiple informants pointed to Ralphie Chong as the direct overseer of a weekly high-stakes poker game hosted at Zannino’s headquarters on N. Margin Street in the North End during that period. His younger brother Joseph (Joe Black) Lamattina, 86, was also a key member of the Zannino crew in its powerful North End heyday. Joe Black died of natural causes two years ago.

Zannino was caught on FBI audio surveillance filling in Ralphie Chong in on the details of the 1981 gangland slaying of local underworld rogue Angelo Patrizzi.

“We clipped him, nine guys…tied ’em up and put him in the trunk (of a car), don’t say nothing more about it,” he was heard dishing.

Patrizzi vowed to kill the Boston mobsters he held responsible for the execution of his half- brother years before while he was away in prison, but got himself killed instead. New England mafia underboss Jerry Angiulo was convicted of ordering Patrizzi’s murder. Steely-eyed Larry Zannino was known on the streets as Angiulo’s muscle.

Upon Ralphie Chong going on the lam in 1984, Zannino was promoted to consigliere of the whole Patriarca clan. Zannino died behind bars in 1996.

Authorities accused South Florida restaurateur and reputed mob associate Richard (Dick Cami) Camillucci of harboring and aiding abetting Lamattina’s run from the law in the 1980s. Charged by the feds for allegedly helping Ralphie Chong acquire a fake driver’s license and passport, Camillucci had actor Wilford Brimley (The Natural, The Thing) testify as a character witness at his trial and was found not guilty. Camillucci’s father-in-law was John (Johnny Photo) Biello, a Genovese crime family button man based in Miami who once owned New York’s iconic Peppermint Lounge on W. 45th Street and was killed gangland style in March 1967.

Ralph “Ralphie Chong” Lamattina

 

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