Boston mafia chief, Carmen (The Big Cheese) DiNunzio returns to his North End digs this week following five and a half years in prison on a bribery conviction and according to mob insiders in Massachusetts will resume his old position as underboss of the New England LCN crime family.
There was no acting underboss named to replace the 57-year old, near 400-pound DiNunzio when he went away behind bars in 2009. In regards to demeanor and personality, the affable and popular Big Cheese doesn’t fit the mold of the typical tough-guy mob thug – per sources, despite his enormous size, he’s known as a wiseguy peacemaker, someone who favors mediation over violence unless totally necessary.
“Carmen’s more a racketeer than a gangster, he doesn’t get off on the blood and guts like a lot of guys that rise as high as he has,” said one retired FBI agent familiar with DiNunzio. “We’d hear he’d smack someone around, that maybe he ordered a beating here or there, but he wasn’t the type that was bloodthirsty or maniacal. Or even that mean. In fact, of all the mobsters I worked in 30 years on the job, he might have been the easiest to deal with on a one-to-one level.”
With Patriarca syndicate boss Peter (The Crazy Horse) Limone semi-retired and acting boss Anthony (Spucky) Spagnolo probably headed where DiNunzio just came from, DiNunzio himself will most likely be back in charge of the Family’s Boston faction in the near future. Spagnolo was indicted on a number of federal extortion counts in October, the seventh straight boss or acting boss of the mob in New England to be busted on racketeering-related offenses.
Sources in law enforcement report that if Spagnolo gets put in prison, alleged Providence-based consigliere Anthony (Ponytail Tony) Parillo, a convicted murderer, would take the acting boss’ chair and assume day-to-day power in the organization, with help from DiNunzio in Massachusetts and his notorious Rhode Island gangster counterparts Matthew (Good Looking Matty) Guglielmetti and Joseph (Joe the Bishop) Achille. When or if Spagnolo is out of the picture and Parillo is upped, sources tab Guglielmetti, just released from prison after a decade, or Achille, to replace Parillo as consigliere.
The Patriarcas have traditionally been split between two factions – the Boston group in Massachusetts and the Providence group in Rhode Island. Family namesake and longtime New England Godfather Raymond Patriarca, Sr. was based out of Providence, as was former don Luigi (Baby Shacks) Manocchio, set to be released from prison on an extortion conviction this fall at 87 years of age.
Limone, 81, took over from Manocchio in 2009 after serving as his consigliere, per sources, and prefers a hands-off style of leadership. Manocchio reportedly stepped down and had begun spending a majority of his days in Florida prior to his indictment and imprisonment. As underboss in the 2000s, DiNunzio relied heavily on advice from Limone (jailed for more than 30 years on a dirty murder beef) and kept close company with him in and around the North End, according to Massachusetts State Police Files.
For the last three years of the Big Cheese’s prison sentence, he was locked up in a Pennsylvania federal correctional institute with his baby brother and fellow Beantown gangland figure, Anthony (The Little Cheese) DiNunzio, the former acting boss of the New England mafia from 2009 through 2012 when he was jailed on racketeering charges.
The DiNunzio brothers were born and raised in East Boston, before gravitating to the city’s North End Little Italy neighborhood, getting schooled in mob activity by then-crime family underboss Jerry Angiulo and his crew of cronies and siblings. Angiulo went to prison in the fall of 1983, around the same time he had a falling out with the Big Cheese and stuck a murder contract on his head for shaking down another young Mafiosi and Angiulo protégé named Vincent (Dee Dee) Gioacchini for $100,000 (Gioacchini is a reputed made guy today).
Fleeing to the west coast, Carmen DiNunzio, accompanied by his little bro Anthony, took refuge with the Chicago’s mob’s California and Nevada crews. They worked as bookies and collectors for expat Outfit lieutenants stationed in San Diego, Los Angeles and Las Vegas, consorting with desert mafia kingpin Anthony (Tony the Ant) Spilotro towards the end of his bloody and brutish reign atop the rackets lining the Vegas Strip and beyond, his brothers John, Michael and Victor and California-headquartered Goodfellas Chris (The Greek) Petit, Joseph (J.S.) Sica and Mike Rizzitello. Petit oversaw Chicago Outfit affairs on the west coast after Tony Spilotro was murdered.
The DiNunzios were indicted in 1992 with a number of high-ranking Chicago mobsters, including Petit, dons Sam (Wings) Carlisi and John (Johnny No Nose) Di Fronzo and Outfit gambling czar Donald (The Wizard) Angelini and charged with racketeering and the attempted takeover of a casino on a Native-American reservation in San Diego.
The indictment revealed that in the late 1980s, the DiNunzio brothers were assigned to collect old debts owed to the slain Tony Spilotro (killed in an Illinois basement in the summer of 1986 for his rogue behavior). Pleading guilty to extortion, Carmen and Anthony were sentenced to four-year prison terms. Di Fronzo, the current titular head of the Chicago mafia, was convicted in the case in 1993, but had the conviction overturned a year later on appeal.
During their first stay in prison on the California RICO, the DiNunzios befriended a contingent of influence-heavy New York wiseguys, which allowed them to regain their standing in the Massachusetts underworld, laying the groundwork for their return to New England in 1997. Coming home to East Boston, federal court files indicate that Carmen and Anthony were immediately “made” into the Patriarca brood by Baby Shacks and Carmen was given a capo slot.
Eventually reemerging in his old stomping grounds of the North End, the Big Cheese earned his nickname by planting the home base of his crew at the Fresh Cheese Store on Endicott Street, a business he was allegedly given by organized crime associate Steven (Stevie Junk) Giorgio to repay a gambling and loansharking debt and the nearby Gemini Social Club. He was promoted to underboss in late 2003 upon the retirement of his predecessor Alexander (Sonny Boy) Rizzo. Giorgio was killed in an arson-gone-wrong in 2002.
The case that Carmen DiNunzio is being let out of prison from this week came down in 2006 and charged the Big Cheese with extortion, running an illegal sports gambling enterprise and trying to bribe an undercover FBI agent that he believed was a state highway department inspector. Pleading guilty to bribery in 2009 in exchange for the dropping of the extortion and gambling charges, he was hit with a six-year term that he’s getting out six months early from due to good behavior and his teaching of educational courses to other prisoners while incarcerated.
Unlike Carmen and his brother Anthony, who have proven the definition of “stand-up guys” for a second straight time after getting jammed up with the Feds, one-time Patriarca powerhouses Robert (Bobby the Cigar) DeLuca of Providence and Mark Rosetti of East Boston both went in the other direction in recent years, entering the Witness Protection Program and leaving the crime family on shaky ground entering 2015. DeLuca was the No. 2 in charge of Providence under Baby Shacks. Rosetti, believed to have been a confidential federal informant for decades, was the capo of the same East Boston mob enclave the DiNunzios were raised in.
Anthony DiNunzio, 55, is scheduled to be released from prison in three years from this month (Feb 2018).