The Mafia Tapes: How a secret recording by the FBI changed the mob forever

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The surveillance capped a five-year investigation of the Patriarca crime family

October 29, 1989: A secret recording captured inside a Massachusetts home changed organized crime forever. Four members of the Patriarca crime family took the oath of secrecy to join the crime family. Little did they know that the FBI was secretly recording the whole thing.

Tim White, an investigative reporter for WPRI in Providence, Rhode Island, digs deep into this incredible moment in mob history. An FBI agent assigned to the case speaks publicly for the first time, and White reveals what happened to the four men who swore a secret oath to the mob.

THE ELEMENTS: LOCATION | KEY PLAYERS | ADDITIONAL AUDIO | SURVEILLANCE IMAGES | WPRI ARCHIVES | CLEANING UP THE MAFIA TAPES


The Location

The mob induction ceremony took place on Oct. 29, 1989, at 34 Guild Street in Medford, Massachusetts. Posing as utility men, FBI agents ran a wire from that house to a home up the street the night before. Several other agents then took pictures from a second-floor bathroom across the street as members of the New England crime family arrived for the secret meeting.


The Key Players

Raymond L.S. Patriarca: The legendary and ruthless boss of the New England Crime, which has bears his name. Patriarca ran La Cosa Nostra from Federal Hill in Providence until his death in 1984.

Raymond “Junior” Patriarca: The son Raymond L.S. Patriarca, Junior Patriarca took the reins of the New England crime family after his father’s death. He would preside over a 1989 mob induction ceremony that was captured on a secret FBI recording. Junior Patriarca would step down as boss in the wake of the recordings and would later serve eight years in prison.

Genaro “Jerry” Angiulo: The Boston-based underboss of the New England crime family under Raymond L.S. Patriarca. Angiulo was expected to take over for Patriarca, but his arrest in 1983 ended his ascension to the underworld throne.

Angelo “Sonny” Mercurio: A mafia soldier from Boston who tipped the FBI off the mob induction ceremony. He chauffered Raymond “Junior” Patriarca to the meeting on Oct. 29, 1989. Mercurio would later enter the federal Witness Protection Program and died in 2007 in Phoenix, AZ

Francis “Cadillac Frank” Salemme: After his release from prison in 1988, Salemme – a close associate of “Junior” Patriarca – rose quickly through the mob ranks. He survived an attempted gangland slaying in 1989. Salemme would later become boss of the New England Crime Family until his arrest in 1995. He is currently in prison.

Joseph “J.R.” Russo: Raymond “Junior” Patriarca elevated the Boston mob captain to consigliere – or advisor – after Russo was part of a renegade faction that sought to take control of the crime family.

Robert “Bobby” DeLuca: From Lincoln Rhode Island, was one of the four men who was inducted into the New England crime family on Oct. 29, 1989. After his release from prison in 2006, DeLuca would become a cooperating witness for the government.

Vincent Federico: Of Boston, Federico was one of the four men who was inducted into the New England crime family on Oct. 29, 1989. He was in prison at the time but received a prison furlough for that weekend. On his furlough application, he wrote he wanted to get out to deal with “family business.” His sister owned the home where the ceremony took place.

Carmen Tortora: Tortora, of Brockton, was one of the four men inducted into the New England crime family on Oct. 29, 1989.

Richard Floramo: Of Everett, Floramo was one of the four men who was inducted into the New England crime family on Oct. 29, 1989.

Matthew “Matty” Guglielmetti: Of Cranston, a longtime caporegime in the New England crime family, he was one of the mobsters who attended the induction ceremony. Guglielmetti would later plead guilty in a Connecticut case that used the FBI tapes as evidence.

Nicholas Bianco: Bianco took over as mob boss from Junior Patriarca after the induction ceremony. He was convicted in a racketeering case in 1991. He died in prison in 1994 of ALS.

Biagio DiGiacomo: A Sicilian-born caporegime who administered the Mafia oath in Italian on Oct. 29, 1989.


Additional Audio

The meeting at 34 Guild Street lasted for hours. After the induction of four new members into the crime family, the group discussed how to properly introduce each other to other made members of La Cosa Nostra, and other rules that are followed in the organization. The recording took place on Oct. 29, 1989.


Under Surveillance

Several FBI agents positioned themselves across the street from the location of the induction ceremony to take pictures of who was coming and going from 34 Guild Street. Agents were on a second-floor bathroom when these photos were taken on Oct. 29, 1989. They were later used as evidence in a federal trial.

See Photo Gallery Here »


WPRI Archives

This story relied heavily on the archives at WPRI. Below are two reports from the archives; one from just prior to the induction ceremony, and the other marked some of the fallout. First is a June 19, 1989 report on the murder of then-underboss William “Billy” Grasso and attempted murder of Francis “Cadillac Frank” Salemme, and the second is a report from the Nov. 25. 1991 sentencing of mob boss Nicholas “Nicky” Bianco (the FBI tapes were played at his trial). Both reports are by the late Target 12 Investigator Jack White.”


Cleaning Up The Mafia Tapes

The FBI used audio cassettes when they recorded the Oct. 29, 1989, Mafia induction ceremony. The conversations are often hard to understand because of the hiss from the recording and a television playing in the background. In this video, Tim White explains how WPRI used software to identify and remove some of the background noise.

Credits

Executive Producer/Reporter – Tim White Chief Videographer/Editor – John Villella Graphic Designer Lisa Mandarini | Producers – Darren Soens & Hannah DickisonDigital Content Producers – Nick Blair & Nancy KrauseAdditional Videography – James Bartone | Special Thanks – Ted Nesi & Eli Sherman


Copyright 2019 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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