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.
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.