Raymond Loreda Salvatore Patriarca, Sr. (March 18, 1908 – July 11, 1984) was an Italian-American mobster from Providence, Rhode Island who became the longtime boss of the Patriarca crime family, whose control extended throughout New England for over three decades. For several decades, Patriarca was one of the most powerful mob bosses in America, Patriarca often mediated disputes between La Cosa Nostra families outside the region. He was the father of Raymond Patriarca, Jr.. During his reign as boss of the Patriarca crime family, Patriarca ruled New England, Rhode Island and Boston with an iron fist, controlling most legitimate businesses, companies, industries, cops, judges, politicians, and local government in all three cities. He had more than half of the city council and local governemnt on his payroll, and even had the mayor of Providence, Rhode Island Joseph A. Doorley Jr. in his pocket, during the mid 1960s. Patriarca vastly expanded the Patriarca crime family to an astonishing extent, turning it into a multi-billion dollar international organized crime empire. He ruled his vast criminal empire with an iron fist, until his death. He is regarded by the FBI as "the most powerful and influential mob boss in Boston history."
Born to Italian immigrants in Worcester, Massachusetts, Patriarca was charged during his teenage years for hijacking, armed robbery, assault with a dangerous weapon, white slavery, safecracking, and auto theft. He was indicted as being an accessory to murder before Prohibition's end, in 1934.
During the 1930s, the Providence Board of Public Safety named Patriarca as "Public enemy No. 1". However, when Patriarca was sentenced to five years in prison for robbery, he was paroled in 1938 after serving just a few months in prison. An inquiry revealed that Executive Councilor Daniel Coakley, a close associate of Governor Charles F. Hurley, had drawn up a parole petition based on the appeals of a "Father Fagin", whom Coakley had fabricated. Coakley was impeached and dismissed from the Governor's office. This scandal enhanced Patriarca's reputation in the American underworld, as it demonstrated the power of his political and government connections.
Rise to Power
During the 1940s, Patriarca continued to rise in power. In 1950, family mobster Philip Buccola fled the country to avoid prosecution for tax evasion. Patriarca took control of Bruccola's criminal operations. Patriarca's reign as leader of the New England Mafia was reportedly a ruthless and bloody regime. In one incident Patriarca allegedly ordered an elderly mafioso to murder his own son, after Patriarca lost a substantial amount of money on a bad deal. When the father pleaded for his son's life, Patriarca exiled him from the family. (Underboss Henry Tameleo later persuaded Patriarca to relent).
In another incident, Patriarca demanded that several members of the crime family pay him $50,000, after federal authorities seized a hijacked shipment of cigarettes he had financed. Patriarca allegedly ordered the murder of his brother for failing to notice an electronic surveillance device placed by federal agents in Patriarca's office. Patriarca owned the Coin-o-matic Distributing co., Miehle Fabric co., D&H construction co., and a Cadillac car agency, all in Providence, his base of operations. In Providence, he would use these different business offices as his headquarters where his weekly tributes from his capo's and other individuals would be delivered.
During the Irish Mob Wars between the Charlestown Mob and the Winter Hill Gang, Patriacra consolidated his immense power allegedly ordering the murders of over 40 members of the McLaughlin Gang and the Winter Hill Gang, virtually destroying the Charlestown mob and putting the Winter Hill Gang in disarray, and causing Bernard McLaughlin to flee to Ireland. With the McLaughlin's gang dismantled and Bernard McLaughlin gone, Patriarca took over all of their criminal operations and territories. Patriarca wanted them all dead because Bernard McLaughlin started interfering with Patriarca's loan sharking operations in Boston.
In March 1970, Patriarca and several Patriarca family associates went on trial for murder and conspiracy to commit murder, the chief witness being robber and hitman John "Red" Kelley, who afterwards went into the federal witness protection program. Kelley gave testimony linking Patriarca and other family members to the murder of Rudolph "Rudy" Marfeo and Anthony Melei. Kelley had been contracted by Pariarca to kill Marfeo. Also indicted in the murder case was future Providence mob boss Luigi Manocchio.
Patriarca and his associates were convicted of conspiracy to commit murder (another associate, Maurice "Pro" Lerner, also was convicted of murder); the mob boss was sentenced to 10 years in prison. He continued to run his family while imprisoned. Lerner and the other defendants were subsequently exonerated when it was established that Kelley had perjured himself at the trial, as had F.B.I. agent H. Paul Rico of the FBI's Boston office, who had corroborated Kelley's testimony.
Death & Succession
On July 11, 1984, around 11:30 AM, the North Providence, Rhode Island Fire Department Rescue Squad received an emergency call from a Douglas Avenue address. It was later revealed that this was the home of Patriarca's girlfriend. His first wife died in 1965. He then married a former nightclub hostess and was living with her in Johnston, Rhode Island at the time of his death. When emergency workers arrived, they found Patriarca to be in full cardiac arrest. Rushed to Rhode Island Hospital, doctors tried to revive Patriarca with an electrical defibrillator and the implanting of a cardiac pacemaker. At 1:00 PM, Patriarca was pronounced dead of a massive heart attack at the age of 76. Patriarca is buried in Gate of Heaven Cemetery, East Providence, Rhode Island.
A Boston Globe article stated, "In a business where violent death is often inevitable, Patriarca died relatively peacefully, unable to outwit failing health caused by a heart condition and diabetes that led to amputation of a gangrenous toe." At the time of his death, Patriarca was under indictment for two murders. Patriarca was succeeded by his son Raymond Patriarca, Jr.