The making ceremony for the Philadelphia mafia’s former Boston crew took place in Beantown in the late 1990s, according to a new episode of Mob Talk from award-winning Philly crime reporters George Anastasia and David Schratwieser discussing the infamous Isabella Gardner Museum heist. Per the episode and multiple sources, the Bruno-Scarfo’s crime family’s then-consigliere George (Georgie Boy) Borgesi, soldier Ron (Big Ronnie) Previte and possibly boss Joseph (Skinny Joey) Merlino headed to Boston in 1997 to induct four members into their Borgata from Massachusetts – watch the episode here.

It was previously the common belief that the ceremony had taken place in Philly. Today, Merlino, 55, is allegedly still the don of the Philadelphia mafia, but residing in Florida and is under indictment for racketeering out of New York. Borgesi, 54, is currently a reputed captain in the crime family and reportedly steadily regaining power and stature in east coast gangland circles after a lengthy stint behind bars.

Authorities think at least two members of Philly’s one-time Boston crew either have or had knowledge of the audacious Gardner Museum robbery, which remains unsolved to this day. On March 18, 1990, in the early morning hours of St. Patrick’s Day, two men dressed as police officers forced their way into the private museum located in Boston’s Fenway-Kenmore district and walked away with a half-billion dollars-worth of rare art.

This past spring, the FBI put out a reward of $10,000,000 good to the end of the 2017 calendar year for information leading to the recovery of the 13 pieces of precious art. No arrests can be made since the statute of limitations has run out.

The FBI has been told that at some point in the late 1990s or early 2000s, the stolen art work was brought to Philadelphia where it was unsuccessfully put up for sale on the local black market. The feds believe the Philly mob’s Boston crew brought the art to the City of Brotherly Love.

Via introductions made through prison acquaintances, the Bruno-Scarfo brass formed its now-defunct Boston contingent by “making” Robert (Boston Bobby) Luisi, Jr., Robert (Bobby the Cook) Gentile, Robert (Bobby Boost) Guarente and Shawn Vetere. Less than two years following their induction into the Philly mob, Luisi, Jr., the crew’s captain and Vetere, a known ladies man around Massachusetts in his younger days, were busted in a narcotics conspiracy due to Big Ronnie Previte’s work as an confidential informant. Previte passed away from natural causes earlier this year.

The 56-year old Luisi, Jr. briefly cooperated with the government before being convicted and serving a decade and half in prison. He’s now living in Tennessee under an assumed name and making his living as a pastor. Bobby Guarante died of cancer in 2004, but not before, according to his widow, he handed over some of the pilfered paintings to Bobby Gentile, currently in prison on drug and weapon charges. Gentile is 81 and in bad health.

In the most recent Mob Talk episode from Philly, Schratwieser and Anastasia divulged that upon Skinny Joey Merlino being released from prison in 2011 (after a dozen years served on a racketeering conviction), his parole officer asked him about the Gardner Museum heist, prompting him to send someone to visit Georgie Boy Borgesi, who that time was still locked away on the same case, regarding what he knew in terms of the whereabouts of the paintings. Borgesi was Merlino’s lieutenant tasked with being the liaison to the Boston crew.

According to two sources, Borgesi met with Shawn Vetere in the Boston area at some point in the last year. One of those sources reports Vetere dated Hollywood actress Charlize Theron while she was shooting the 1999 Oscar-nominated film The Cider House Rules on the east coast and Vetere was employed on the set on behalf of a labor union.

The Bruno-Scarfo syndicate’s Boston crew is suspected by the FBI of carrying out the April 1999 gangland slaying of drug pusher Gino Marconi in South Philly. Marconi had been allegedly feuding with Borgesi and Merlino over his refusing to pay a street tax on his narcotics business. FBI surveillance units place members of the Boston crew in South Philly visiting their bosses in the days surrounding the never-solved Marconi hit.

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