Boston Gang Wars- Murdered by McLaughlins- James “Buddy” McLean

JAMES “BUDDY” MCLEAN, 35                                October 31, 1965

Buddy McLean was the leader of a Somerville gang. Around a month before the Salisbury Beach incident on Labor Day in 1961, McLean was confronted by David Gearty, 35.

David Gearty

David Gearty was described as a dapper fellow and “not an easy man to forget. A broad-shouldered six-footer with a deep tan, he is often mistaken for movie actor Alan Ladd.” David and Helen had been married for 12 years. They had two children, age 8 and 12. They were known as a devoted couple. Things changed when Helen got involved with Buddy. She had been seeing him a few weeks.

David, a bartender, approached Buddy who he found sitting with his 32-year-old wife Helen at a café in Cambridge. David argued with Buddy, they stepped outside, and “Mclean gave Gearty a severe beating including a broken nose.” Buddy and Helen then took off together.

Three days later, on August 5, David decided to head to the West Coast. He drove a while but turned back after thinking of his kids. On the way back, he bought a shotgun. He waited for Helen at their home that Saturday night after she returned from another sojourn with Buddy. David and Helen argued.

She told him they were through. David Gearty shot her twice with a shotgun. He pleaded guilty to manslaughter. He alleged Helen came at him with a knife. He was sentenced to 12 – 15 years in State Prison.

Helen Gearty is also, in a sense, a murder victim of the gangland wars. She was murdered by her husband who was not a gangster. But, I don’t include her because the murder was not at the hand of a gangster.

A little less than a month after beating up David Gearty, Buddy McLean , along with Nicholson, beat up the 65-year-old guy in a diner on August 27, 1961. Next, we hear about Buddy in Salisbury Beach with a different woman than Helen when his fight with George McLaughlin took place. You would have to think the guy was a little bit out of control. A few weeks later his car was found to have dynamite in it.  Then, Buddy murdered Bernard McLaughlin.

All these events occurred in an eventful 1961 for Buddy McLean. Thereafter, he spent six months in jail and things seemed to quiet down for McLean. Two and a half years later, Nicholson was murdered.  McLaughlins waited a terribly long time to gain revenge for Bernie’s murder. The McLaughlins had the Irish propensity to never to forget a grudge but also seemed content to call a grudge square when both sides suffered. They lost Bernie; the McLeans lost Nicholson.

The McLaughlins must have been plenty of opportunities to hit McLean. I told about his meeting with Ballou in Charlestown. The McLaughlins knew where McLean lived. McLean had to be out and about.  He was not the type to go into hiding.  A serious plan to do him in could easily have been developed. If this was an Irish gang war it certainly was not a hot war.

We have no reason to believe the McLaughlins took any action against Buddy McLean himself. You may surmise they adopted the Sicilian idea that “revenge is a dish best served cold.” But that does not seem to be the case. I suggest perhaps an understanding was reached between the gangs and peace descended on the rivals. Perhaps the deal was that McLean had to sacrifice Nicholson to cement the deal.

The peaceful status, however, would change with the murder of Edward “Punchy” McLaughlin on October 20, 1965.  Ironically, McLean had nothing to do with that murder but how could anyone in the McLaughlins know it at the time.

The deal had been broken. The peace shattered.

Exactly four years less one day after Bernie’s murder, the McLaughlins acted. McLean was in the Winter Hill Lounge with Anthony D’Agostino, 37, from East Boston and Americo Sacramone, 27, of Everett.  Both D’Agostino and Sacramone were on parole. They were having some drinks with an unidentified woman. The three men had been spotted there. The Hughes brothers, the real enforcers for the McLaughlins, were waiting.

As Buddy and the others were leaving just after 1:00 a.m., Buddy walked up to the police officer on duty, shined his badge with his sleeve, and said “that’s for good luck.” Another police officer had just entered the lounge. The police officer was looking outside the window toward the lobby of a closed-down theatre across the street. His attention was drawn to a figure lurking in the shadows.

The four left the lounge. The woman stayed on the lounge side and began to walk away while Buddy and D’Agostino and Sacramone started to cross the street to where their cars were parked a few storefronts away. The person hiding in the shadow noticed by the police officer was Steve Hughes.  He had a 12-guage, pump, shot gun capable of firing six rounds.

The watching officer saw the man step out his hiding spot when the three men were about sixty feet away. Buddy never had a chance to pull out the .38 caliber he had in his belt. Steve Hughes fired five shots toward Buddy. All three men were wounded. Buddy took the bulk of the shrapnel. D’Agostino was badly hit in the left arm; Sacramone had a minor scalp wound.

The watching police officer rushed out with his gun drawn. Hughes bolted down an alley which was lighted by the headlights of a car at the end. He jumped into the car and escaped. At the time and for a while thereafter, the police had no idea who did the killing.

Buddy lingered at the Massachusetts General Hospital for 30 hours. He died four years to the day after he murdered Bernard McLaughlin. Neither friends nor relatives were at the hospital to see him off. The only people present were two Somerville detectives guarding the door.

Buddy McLean murder by the Hughes brothers on October 29, 1965 may be said to be the last murder in the gang war between the McLeans and the McLaughlins, the two Irish gangs in Boston at the time. There were three persons murdered from Labor Day, 1961, to October 31, 1965.  One by the McLeans: Bernard McLaughlin; two by the McLaughlins: Russell Nicholson and James “Buddy” McLean. Not much of a casualty list.

Members of the McLaughlin gang were murdered after Buddy was killed but these murders were not done by an Irish gang.   An Italian gang out of Roxbury consisting of the Martorano brothers, John and Jimmy; the Flemmi brothers, Steve and Vincent “Jimmy the Bear,” and Frank Salemme murdered the members of the McLaughlin gang. Despite the intrusion of the more murderous Italian Roxbury gang into the war, people continued to wrongly refer to it as an Irish gang war. I suppose that often happens. The 1918 pandemic is referred to as the Spanish Flu when it did not originate there but probably in the United States.

The Roxbury gang operated in part at the behest of the Mafia.  Jerry Angiulo, the Mafia underboss in Boston, was overheard by the FBI saying that he and his brothers “buried twenty [expletive] Irishmen to take over this [expletive] town.” His brother said to him, “you’re talking about Charlestown” to which Jerry responded, “shut up. Don’t say it out loud.”

Boston Gang Wars- Murdered by the McLaughlins: Russell Nicholson

RUSSELL NICHOLSON, 33                                              May 12, 1964

In early November 1961, Russell Nicholson, a Metropolitan District Commission police officer, was suspended and later dismissed from that police force for “being in the company of persons of ill repute, with whom he admitted having been friendly.” The persons of ill repute were Buddy McLean and Alexander Petricone. Rumor had it that he drove the getaway car in connection with Bernard McLaughlin’s murder.

But, it doesn’t appear that the reason was so much that he was hanging around with Buddy Mclean and company but more to the fact that he was actively participating with them. On August 27, 1961, Nicholson and Buddy partook in an early morning brawl at a diner on Mystic Avenue in Somerville. Nicholson and McLean, both age 31, were charged with assaulting the sixty-five-year-old owner of the diner named John Porter. This fight destroyed $300 worth of dishes and equipment. Two other hoodlums who were with them, Alexander Petricone, 25, and Gabriel Grande, 55, were charged with malicious damage to property of the diner.

On October 31, Nicholson was observed being with Petricone again.

“Neighbors told police Nicholson lived in abject fear of [George] McLaughin because [George] thought [Nicholson] figured in the shooting death of his brother, Bernard, in City Square, Charlestown, in 1961.” On May 12, 1964, according to Nicholson’s wife Phyllis, 29, Nicholson left his house at 9:00 a.m. in the company of another man, Harry Johnson. He did not say where he was going. He was seen at 10:00 a.m. in Ball Square, Somerville. Later, his body was found in a wooded gully near the Wilmington-Woburn line. Police figured he had been murdered elsewhere and his body dumped there. Two bullets had been fired into his left temple.

But who was Harry Johnson? He was the last man seen with Nicholson and probably is the key to Nicholson’s murder.  Harry Johnson was a 45-year-old hoodlum who was tracked down in Winthrop the day after Nicholson’s murder by the State Police. He was interrogated for four hours and then released.  Harry Johnson was indicted less than a month after Nicholson’s murder on June 4, 1964 for attempted extortion and other offenses, including impersonating a police officer.

According to Francis X. Murray whose nickname was “Gaga” and whose information was incorporated in a book by that name, Harry Johnson murdered Nicholson. Murray offers a vague answer as to why he did it – suggesting it involved betting on the horses and a dispute over money. Murray does note that Johnson and Bernie McLaughlin were friends. Murray said Harry fled to California after the murder where he stayed until Buddy McLean was murdered indicating he returned to the area. I found no trace of Harry Johnson after he was released on the attempted extortion.

Nicholson’s murder was a McLaughlin pay back for Bernie’s murder. An educated guess would suggest that Harry Johnson lured Nicholson into a trap set up by the McLaughlins. George or Punchy, together or just one of them, sought the pleasure of murdering him. After Harry underwent the third degree by the State Police, the McLaughlins probably murdered Harry also.  Incidentally, George McLaughlin had made the FBI’s List of the 10 Most Wanted at this time.  The “honor” was the result of the murder of William Sheridan, a month previous to Nicholson’s murder.  I cover Sheridan’s murder when I discuss murders of men who were not gangsters themselves.

Boston Gang Wars- Murdered by the McLeans: Bernard McLaughlin

BERNARD McLAUGHLIN, 40                                           October 31, 1961

On Tuesday, October 31, 1961, shortly after noon and thirty-six hours after Buddy McLean fired shots near his car at night, Bernie McLaughlin walked down Chelsea Street, in City Square Charlestown.  He walked past Lynda Lee. She said she knew him. He said to her, “hello beautiful.”

Bernard McLaughlin

Moments later, a “man about 6 feet tall, with brown hair, in a trench coat and brown suit” gunned him down with four or five bullets to the head and neck. Witnesses said the man in the trench coat was seen running towards Mystic Bridge after the shooting.  Witnesses claimed three men were involved: 1) the shooter, 2) a man who the shooter gave the gun to after putting five slugs into McLaughlin, 3) the driver of the escape car.  Witnesses said the escape car fled the shooting with its trunk up so no one could see its license plate. By the next day police arrested Buddy McLean and Alexander S. Petricone and charged them with the murder of Bernie McLaughlin.

All the prosecutors needed for a successful prosecution was for one of the many witnesses to the murder to identify the assailants. After all, the murder was committed in broad daylight on a city street.  The police said that the above mentioned Lynda Lee, a 39-year-old Somerville entertainer known as ‘the second Sophie Tucker’ fingered McLean and Petricone.

Alexander Petricone

Apparently, however, Lynda Lee’s finger was a little shaky. A grand jury, after hearing from 18 witnesses, including Lynda Lee, returned a “no bill” which meant it did not hear enough evidence to indict either man. Did Lynda Lee change her mind? Why wasn’t further investigation done? Why wasn’t an investigative grand jury used? It is almost like no one wanted to pry too much into the murder.

During this time, the battle between McLean’s Somerville group and the McLaughlin Charlestown group flared up for a little bit. On November 17, 1961, George McLaughlin was seriously injured a little before 2:00 a.m. when his car overturned on Cambridge Street in Brighton. Police believed it skidded on the wet pavement.  Do cars usually end up upside down because it rains?  Maybe if they are being chased.

In September 1962, Grace Gaffney Petricone, 26, the woman who Howie Winter said George insulted at Salisbury beach and the wife of Alexander Petricone, needed a car to go shopping. Her husband was serving time in the Billerica House of Corrections along with Buddy McLean for beating up a sixty-five-year-old man at a diner. She went to Howie Winter, one of Buddy McLean’s top men, and he let her borrow his car. Winter would have been high up on the list of targets for the McLaughlins.

Grace had been driving Howie’s car for about four miles when she arrived at her location. As she parked, the car’s horn beeped. A bomb, apparently connected to the horn, exploded. The blast threw the hood over fifty feet into the air, over a fence, and it landed in a vacant lot. Grace was reported as saying: “I was stunned. I didn’t know what happened. The door blew open and I stumbled out.”

It was an attempt to murder Howie. Howie said it changed his life: “I knew that if I set up any pattern from that day on, I was going to die, you know? As a matter of fact, from then on, I lived my life as if I was going to die.”

Grace and Alexander Petricone had one young daughter. The shock of that experience also caused Grace to change her life. She called it quits with Alexander. They divorced shortly after the bomb. By the time of the divorce, Alexander had likewise changed his life and moved to the West Coast.

After doing a bit in the house of corrections for Bernie McLaughlin’s murder, Petricone would wisely flee the Boston area for Hollywood when he was released.  Petricone would find success in Hollywood.  He played Moe Greene in the Godfather movie under the name Alex Rocco and continued to have numerous roles in Hollywood including in That Thing You Do with Tom Hanks.  As a voice actor on the Simpsons, he won an Emmy.

Somerville Police Chief Thomas O’Brien was asked about it after Grace’s near-death incident. He said he believed the problems that caused it began at Salisbury Beach. He said that since the Salisbury incident, two Somerville men and one Charlestown man have disappeared.

aka Alex Rocco

The Grace Petricone’s car bombing and bomb outside Buddy’s house made the gangsters very aware their cars could be their enemies. Years later, I heard a story from my cousin Roger Concannon who lived across the street from Theresa Stanley, a girlfriend of gangster Whitey Bulger.  Whitey often stayed at her house overnight. Roger said that one of Theresa’s son told him Whitey was very generous to him. The son said: “he gives me five bucks to start up his car every morning.”

The beating of George, the murder of Bernie, the chase causing George to flip his car, and the attempted bombings of Buddy McLean and Howie Winter are good bases for claiming that an Irish gang war that started on Labor Day, 1961. Yet very few people were involved. And, then, all was quiet on the Somerville/Charlestown line. There was no known violence after the blowing up of Grace Petricone’s car in September 1962 until May 1964.

Boston Gang Wars- THE FIRST IRISH GANG WAR: McLaughlin v. McLean Introduction

The supposed Irish gang war is commonly proposed to have started Labor Day weekend, 1961. That weekend, members of two Irish gangs – one, the Somerville Gang from the City of Somerville under the leadership of James “Buddy” McLean; the other the McLaughlin Gang from Charlestown under the leadership of the McLaughlin brothers- partied at Salisbury Beach located in the northeast corner of Massachusetts

Salisbury Beach, Massachusetts, in 1961 was so much more than just an attractive beach on the Atlantic Ocean. Like Nantasket Beach in Hull, Massachusetts at the time, Salisbury Beach offered shops, restaurants, an amusement park, and crowds escaping from the City of Boston in the summer. The picture on the left shows the Ferris wheel and roller coaster in a photo taken in 1910. Salisbury Beach had not changed much from 1910 to 1961 except the number of penny arcades, the carnival game booths, and honky-tonk bars had increased.  Salisbury beach drew in throngs of partyers looking for a weekend of fun.  Salisbury Beach was the place to go to enjoy the last days of fun in the sun and to say farewell to summer.

Modestly priced accommodations likewise adorned the beach. A few friends could get together to rent affordable cabins for the weekend. Salisbury  Beach offered the chance to get away for a breath of fresh air outside the streets of the city and meet others in a festive environment.

I lived in a similar neighborhood as the people from these two gangs around the same time in Savin Hill.   When we did not go to Cape Cod for our weekend trips to get out of the neighborhood, we would travel a little north of Salisbury Beach to Hampton Beach in New Hampshire. We would lug cases of Blanchard beer, the cheapest beer we could find.  We park our cars, change into the Bermuda shorts that few dared wear on the city streets, and walk to the beach.  We would not get back into the cars again until we were ready to drive home – unless, of course, we needed to use our cars as our weekend motel rooms.  I would assume the group of guys and gals from the Somerville and Charlestown city neighborhoods did pretty much the same thing as us.  Although we’d think at the time that our neighborhood was vastly different from the other city neighborhoods, in retrospect we were more alike than different.

Charlestown is a part of Boston on the northern side. Charlestown is the location of the famous Battle of Bunker Hill, which was fought on June 17, 1775, by the colonial forces against the British. Somerville had been carved out of Charlestown as a separate city in 1842. They border on each other. The members of the Somerville and Charlestown gangs would frequently interact with each other while passing through or hanging around in the neighborhoods. Most of these hoodlums knew each other.

We know about one instance of their casual interactions.  James “Buddy” McLean, the Somerville gang boss, was in Charlestown as late as September 15, 1965, four years after the notorious Labor Day weekend. He was arrested at Driscoll’s Café on Medford Street along with Thomas Ballou. Ballou was carrying a handgun.  Ballou, being from Charlestown, was said to be associated with the McLaughlin gang.  Yet, an unarmed Buddy McLean was in a Cambridge bar having a discussion with him as if there were no bad blood between the gangs. Perhaps, by that time things had quieted down after each side had taken a life from the other.

The 1961 Labor Day weekend troubles which have set forth the idea idea that a long Irish gang war throughout the 1960’s was in fact a brawl between two men. Various stories are promulgated about what happened that weekend. The one that makes the most sense to me was in an article on November 1, 1961 quoting a police officer who explained: “McLean entered a spot in Salisbury with a girl. Remarks were passed between her and George McLaughlin. George slapped her face. When McLean and George were pulled apart, George was taken to a hospital in Newburyport and spent two weeks convalescing.”

Then there is the article on November 21, 1975, that gave another reason for the combat with Buddy but has the same combatants. The article says a Charlestown detective who knew the McLaughlins as young kids reported that “George McLaughlin bit McLean’s girlfriend during a beach party. Mclean, a quick-fisted man who did not need a gun to prove his strength, gave McLaughlin the beating of his life.”

Then there’s the story Howie Winter told. He was not there. Howie recounts that George hit on the girlfriend of Alexander Petricone. They got into an intense argument. A Somerville guy, Red Lloyd, tried to calm them down by bringing them drinks. George smashed the drink into Red’s face splitting his lip. Then another fight broke out. When people separated and things quieted a bit, the Somerville guys wanted Buddy McLean to murder George. Buddy said he was not in the killing business, but said that he would give George a beating.

George had been beaten to a bloody pulp. He finished his Labor Day weekend in the hospital. George’s beating did not sit well with his gang. George had two other brothers who were living at the time, Bernie and Edward (Punchy). Two of his other brothers had been killed in the armed forces during WWII.

The stories that followed promoted the idea that the McLaughlins would not let the beating stand. The McLaughlins wanted their pound of flesh from whomever in the McLean gang administered the beating to George. These stories explain that the McLaughlins consulted Buddy McLean asking him to tell them who did it.

These stories that claim the McLaughlins didn’t know who did the beating make no sense.  These guys knew each other, if not personally, definitely by name and face.. The victor in a fight that hospitalized another would be well known, especially because the fight took place in a public place in front of their associates. The McLaughlins issue was not who beat up George.  They knew it was Buddy. Their quandary was what to do about it. Buddy was considered the toughest guy in the area. He had his own gang. Revenge had to be against Buddy himself, a difficult task.

The pressure on the McLaughlins to do something increased. Apparently, Bernie tried. The Boston Globe had a brief article saying that Bernie “McLaughlin,  . . . was reportedly beaten badly last Saturday night. . . .” which would have been October 28, 1961, approximately eight weeks after the Labor Day beating.  Little more seems to be known publicly about that incident.

Bernie was a tough guy.  Whoever beat up Bernie must have been a very tough guy to have beaten him badly. Who would want to take on the head of a gang unless he was tough and felt protected with his own gang? Most likely Buddy McLean administered the beating to Bernie after they exchanged words over George’s beating.  Bernie’s beating, rather than George’s, most likely explains what happened next.

Buddy knew it was not going to end there. He walked away that night knowing that plenty of nights ahead might have a different result. Buddy had now beaten up two-thirds of the McLaughlin leadership. The McLaughlins would have to act against him to save face unless, he acted first.

A strange event followed.

It could have happened as Buddy McLean told the police.  Or, perhaps another way.  What the gangsters tell police is hardly reliable.  Buddy lived at 3A Snow Terrace, Somerville, in a rear apartment on the last house on the right, in a city neighborhood where the houses were on top of each other. Snow Terrace was a small dead-end street that had two or three houses on each side crowded in next to each other. Three days after Bernie McLaughlin’s beating on Monday, October 30, 1961, at 1:30 a.m., a neighbor of Buddy McLean said he heard three shots. He looked out the window and saw that Buddy’s hood was up. The next morning when the neighbor came out of his house, he noticed that the hood on Buddy’s car was still up. He went over to it. Looking at the engine he saw five dynamite sticks.

Somerville police were called to the scene. They found the dynamite. Their investigation found the wiring to the bomb had been faulty. Examining the scene, police said they found three 9mm Luger pistol shells on Buddy’s small lawn.  His lawn, if it existed, had to be postage stamp size.  Buddy admitted firing the shots. He said he heard some people fooling around at his car so he fired the gun to chase them away.

He told the police that he interrupted them in the middle of their plan to dynamite his car. Sergeant Anthony DiFasino said he spoke with McLean. He asked him who he thought would have done it. He replied that: “he had a rough idea who did it and he would handle the matter his way.”

Now wrap your head around this. Buddy hears the noise, runs out of his house with his 9mm Luger pistol. He fires three shots. The perpetrators flee. He then goes back into his house. Don’t you think he might want to check his car? Look under the hood? At a minimum you would think he would put the hood down so it would not remain up all night.

So. how does that make sense? Was this a ruse so that Buddy could justify what he planned to do next? Did Buddy set up the whole thing?

And what about the police? Was it all right for Buddy to have a 9mm Luger pistol? Did they have no problem with him firing off three shots in the middle of the night in the center of their city. That answer is simple. Howie Winter explained that Buddy and his criminal buddies were all classmates of the guys in the police department.  They had grown up together, knew each other and were friends. Sometimes it is very helpful to stay in your own neighborhood.

Boston Gang Wars-Loan Sharks and Bookies: Fiore DeChristoforo

FIORE DeCHRISTOFORO, 35                                            September 7, 1961

The last murder in this group is that of Fiore DeChristoforo. He lived in Somerville but owned a variety store in the North End. In the early morning of his murder around 5:15 a.m. after a long night, De Christoforo left the Coliseum Restaurant. He and some other patrons had been let out by Joseph Salvati, the night watchman who controlled the door. Salvati would later be convicted, on the testimony of Joe “the Animal” Barboza, as an accessory to the murder of Edward “Teddy” Deagan.

Teddy Deegan

As they walked by an adjacent doorway, a man stopped them to ask where he could get a drink. Another man stood behind him in the doorway. Suddenly the first man opened fire,  putting two slugs into DeChristoforo’s lower back and one into his chest.

Salvati came out of the club and with Gino Cognato, one of DeChristoforo’s companions, picked DeChristoforo up from the street and drove him to the nearby Massachusetts General Hospital. Before DeChristoforo died, he denied having been in the Coliseum. At death’s door, DeChristoforo did not want to cause trouble for himself by implicating the Mafia owners who were running the after-hours business. According to the police, DeChristoforo had been arrested several times on gaming charges. Police speculated that the murder could have been a hit by a loan shark’s strong man.

In April 1964, the Boston police tried to have the Coliseum’s liquor license pulled. They alleged it was a hang-out for many criminals. A prosecutor said it was the place gangsters told people to drop money off which was owed to them. The Liquor Board chairman, John Callahan, replied to the police request to shut it down: “What are we to deprive a man of his right to make a living because of a police record. I believed in rehabilitation and not persecution by the police.” The word around town was that Callahan always managed to go to the men’s room during some hearings. Coincidentally, at the same time the people looking for a favorable ruling from the Liquor Board would also use the men’s room. When they “bumped into” Callahan in the men’s room, the applicants would insist that Callahan accept their thanks.

In 1954, DeChristoforo got into an argument with a Boston cop. DeChristoforo knocked the cop down, took his gun and held him at bay until he sped away in the cop’s car. DeChristoforo surrendered later in the day. He received a sentence of one month in the house of corrections.

In June 1960, the DeChristoforo Social Club in the North End which was raided for holding illegal dice games. Twelve others along with DeChristoforo were arrested for playing Barbut, a game played with two dice but with different rules than Craps. One of the others arrested was Joseph Salvati.

A Mafia guy with an interest in the Coliseum was Samuel Granito. He had served time for a $110,000 robbery of the Sturtevant Company in Hyde Park in 1947. Granito was listed as a member of the Boston Mafia in a 1963 chart by the Boston Police Commissioner.

Someone from the inside of the Coliseum tipped off the shooters outside that DeChristoforo was at the Coliseum with his girl and another couple. The inside man had to know DeChristoforo was on the Mafia’s hit list. The only person that we know who was in the Coliseum at the time was Joe Salvati, the doorman. The hit coming out of a Mafia owned night spot at 5:15 a.m. on a local North End man who ran Barbut games clearly indicates a sanctioned Mafia hit. Perhaps over money owed or someone feeling he did not show him the proper respect.

DiChistoforo did not expect to be hit. These murders follow the same pattern of the North End consolidating power and cleaning op outliers.  Another common thread, No one was prosecuted for any of the murders in this section.  Even though the darkness would have been lifting and the North End would have been waking up, no one was prosecuted for DeChristoforo’s murder.  I was unable to find any trace of the person who left his trademark gunshots across many of these slayings.

Boston Gang Wars-Loan Sharks and Bookies: Anthony Sasso

ANTHONY SASSO, 36                                                              October 14, 1960

When the body of an unidentified person (later identified as George Joynt) was found on July 8, 1962, under a few inches of clay-like soil in Medford, it was believed to be that of Anthony Sasso. The medical examiner opined the body had been there for at least 18 months. That would bring it back to the time when Sasso was last seen alive on October 14, 1960.

Others thought it might be that of Joan Risch, a housewife, who disappeared in the middle of the day from her home in Lincoln on October 21, 1961. I will discuss her later. It is a real mystery.

Sasso at age 24 was convicted of being the driver of the getaway vehicle used by the hoodlums who held up the Abbott Worsted Mill in Westford, MA on January 24, 1947. When he was captured and brought to trial in late May 1948, four of his fellow robbers had already been convicted. The prosecutor brought in two of them to testify against him. One, Joseph Morello, 21, of the North End, was put on the stand. He refused to testify despite the judge holding him in contempt. Another, Michael Katherina of Tewksbury, testified: “He doesn’t look like the driver.”

Earlier, two State Police officers testified that Sasso admitted to them he was the driver. It was an unusual tactic by the prosecutor putting on witnesses who would not help his case. It is sometimes used by federal prosecutors who believe that showing the type of people a defendant associates with is helpful in getting a conviction. It is the old guilty by association ploy which should not be part of the evidence against a person.

Sasso who listed his address at that time as being on Salem Street, North End, was convicted on May 2, 1948, after the jury deliberated for an hour and a half. He was sentenced to 10 to 12 years in the state prison at Walpole. Another North End criminal Joseph DeMarco, mentioned previously, was in prison from 1943 to 1955. Sasso and DeMarco had a chance to become good friends. After DeMarco was murdered, Sasso was questioned by the State Police in connection with that murder. He was warned by State Police

Lieutenant Cornelius Crowley that he “might be next.” He responded, “Who do you think you are kidding.”

On October 14, 1960, his wife watched as he was engaged in a conversation with several other ex-convicts. He then climbed into a “taxi in the North End” never to be seen again. There is little doubt he was murdered but we are very limited on facts.  He took a ride to a hole somewhere.