Recently-deceased Boston mob figure Ralph (Ralphie Chong) Lamattina helped his bosses in the Patriarca crime family kill two local rival racketeers inside his Nite Lite Café on the outskirts of the North End in the 1960s. Greek gangster Arthur (Tash) Bratsos and his bodyguard Thomas (Tommy D) De Prisco were lured to the Nite Lite Café and shot, stabbed and beaten on the night of November 15, 1966 after the pair had been extorting area businesses and Bratsos beefed with Ralphie Chong’s direct superior in the Patriarca clan, Larry Zannino, a mafia captain in the North End.

Lamattina died peacefully in his sleep at 94 years old back on April 10. He served two years in Massachusetts state prison for being an accessory after the fact in the slayings of Bratsos and De Prisco and in the 1960s ran two North End area mob haunts, the Nite Lite Café, an after-hours bar on Commercial Street, and the nearby Enrico’s Social Club. Per Massachusetts State Police documents, Ralphie was responsible for the day-to-day operations of Zannino’s gambling and juice loan businesses.

Tash Bratsos, 36, and Tommy De Prisco, 25, belonged to independent mobster and highly-feared frequent Patriarca syndicate hired-hand Joe (The Animal) Barboza’s crew. Bratsos looked after the crew’s loansharking affairs.

The Portuguese Barboza was locked up on a parole violation in the weeks before the hits at the Nite Lite Cafe when police caught him with a gun at a traffic stop, leaving members of his inner circle unprotected. Starting with Bratsos and De Prisco, they began being picked off. Joe the Animal soon joined Team USA and entered the Witness Protection Program.

Bratsos had been in a decade-long feud with Larry Zannino because Zannino allegedly killed Bratsos’ big brother Jimmy Bratsos in March 1954 and buried him on his family’s farm in Stoughton, Massachusetts over the belief that the elder Bratsos cooperated with police following surviving a previous attempt on his life three years earlier. According to court records, Zannino summoned Tash Bratsos and Tommy De Prisco from a tavern in East Boston to Ralphie Chong’s Nite Lite Café on the evening of November 15, 1966 and fired the first shot in the infamous New England underworld double homicide carried out by a dozen North End wiseguys.

Bratsos and De Prisco had been frantically trying to raise $100,000 bail money in order to spring Barboza in the days preceding their murders. The afternoon of November 15, they were reportedly in an East Boston bar bragging of the close to $85,000 that had come up with by shaking down local businesses, even displaying the collected cash on a table. One FBI informant recounted Ralphie Chong grabbing ahold of Bratsos and De Prisco’s fellow Barboza crew member Joe (Chico) Amico by the neck and Zaninno unloading into Bratsos with his gun as how the executions began.

Amico survived the Nite Lite Café slayings, slipping free from Lamattina’s grasp and bolting out the door, per the informant, but wouldn’t be so lucky two months later, felled by up-and-coming East Boston button man Joe (J.R.) Russo with his signature carbine rifle as he left a Revere, Massachusetts watering hole. Russo would go on to be a capo in the Patriarca Family and for a short time, the New England mafia’s consigliere. He died in prison in 1998. Barboza was killed living under an assumed name in San Francisco in 1976, allegedly by Russo and his carbine

The badly battered bodies of Tash Bratsos and Tommy De Prisco were stuffed in Bratsos’ black-colored Cadillac, driven to South Boston’s Lower End neighborhood and abandoned. The corpses were discovered by authorities within hours and police encountered Ralphie Chong and his mob buddy Johnny Cincotti scrubbing the Nite Lite Café floor and front entryway clean of blood when they arrived to question them.

Lamattina and Bratsos had been neighbors in suburban Medford. The bail money extorted by Bratsos and De Prisco intended for Barboza reportedly got split between the numerous participants in the fall 1966 gangland purge.

Larry Zannino (died in 1996), like Russo, passed away behind the bars of a federal correctional facilities serving time for racketeering. He preceded Russo as the syndicate’s consigliere. Lamattina was indicted on racketeering charges in 1984 along Cincotti and after a decade on the run from the law as a fugitive, he did five years in a federal penitentiary, getting released in the summer of 2000.

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