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.

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