Sean Richard lived a rags to riches gangland tale in his younger days before it crashed and burned two decades ago. To salvage himself from the wreckage, he turned on his New Jersey mob boss father-in-law and a group of powerful mafia figures in New York and disappeared into the Witness Protection Program. Out of sight, maybe, but he definitely wasn’t out of mind.

In 2016, one of the New York wiseguys he spurned, Joseph (Joe Glasses) Datello of the Lucchese crime family, found out Richard, 54 today, was living under an assumed identity in New Hampshire and planned to murder him for the betrayal. And for sticking him with a six-figure debt after he flipped.

The 67-year old Datello pled guilty in federal court this week to attempted murder as part of a plea deal in a racketeering case brought against him and a number of other Lucchese players in 2017. Discussions Datello had about his intentions to travel to New Hampshire and murder Richard were intercepted by an FBI wire.

Back in his 20s, Richard was a nobody carpenter from the Bronx. When he met Sara Riggi, the daughter of New Jersey Godfather John (The Eagle) Riggi, in 1995, he became a somebody. When he married her a year later, he became an even bigger somebody.

John Riggi (pictured above) ran the New Jersey mafia from the 1970s until his death of natural causes in 2015 at the ripe old age of 90. He based his affairs out of Elizabeth, New Jersey, where he controlled Local 394 of the LIUNA, a construction-workers union that came to dominate the industry in the region.

With John Riggi locked up, Richard became his point man in the labor unions. Richard and his new bride opened up a construction firm, S&S Contracting, and took counsel and direction from Riggi on visits to him in a federal prison in Maryland

Richard gave the don two granddaughters and headed his union rackets, including kickback, bribery, bid-rigging, extortion and theft schemes. Many of the construction scams Richard and his father-in-law Jersey mob were engaging in were being done in tandem with the Lucchese Family. Richard was dealing directly with a number of Lucchese luminaries on a regular basis. Joe Glasses Datello was Richard’s liaison to the New York mafia.

Datello is the muscle for Lucchese captain Dominick (Crazy Dom) Truscello, the crew boss on Prince Street in Manhattan and closely connected to Lucchese power Steven (Stevie Wonder) Crea. Truscello, 85, Crea, 71, and Datello were all involved in Riggi’s labor union rackets and went to prison due to Richard’s cooperation and testimony against them. They all went down in the 2017 bust together too (Crea and Truscello are currently awaiting trial).

Things began unravelling for Richard in August 1999. The FBI raided Richard’s home and the offices at S&S Contracting. The mounting pressure from the federal probe sent Richard into a deep depression fueled by alcohol and drugs. The Luccheses uncovered Richard stealing from money envelopes being passed back and forth between the New York mobsters and Riggi. By November, Richard believed he was going to be killed and fled a meeting with Datello and Truscello thinking they were there to execute him on his father-in-law’s orders.

Weeks later, he reached out to the FBI and agreed to wire up. The feds placed the wire in an arm cast Richard wore following a ski accident. In January 2000, Richard left his wife and kids and vanished into the Witness Protection Program with his stripper girlfriend.

The forthcoming case ensnaring Riggi, Crea, Truscello and Datello was dubbed Operation Textbook. Riggi, who was slated to be getting out of prison in 2000, was forced to do another dozen years behind bars before being allowed to come home. Over the next decade, Richard would take the stand and testify successfully in five federal racketeering trials, resulting in dozens of guilty verdicts.

Leave a Reply