GAETANO J. DeNICOLA, 49 December 23, 1959
A little over a month following DeMarco’s murder, on December 23, 1959, Gaetano J. DeNicola, last name also spelled DiNicola, from Hartford, Ct, was found at 12:45 a.m. His body was slumped over on the front passenger seat of his car while his head, with two bullets in the back, fell on the driver’s side of the car. The car was on the service entrance to the Framingham Motor Inn about 300 yards from the building. It had been seen there at 9:50 p.m. by a motel worker. The two bullets in the back of the head recalls the Cameron and Buccelli murders; leaving the victim in his own car recalls them as well as the Vazza murder.
DeNicola was an ex-convict described as a “well known racketeer.” He had been questioned two years earlier in connection with a gangland murder at Worcester. He had been arrested in Cleveland, New York, Connecticut and indicted for perjury in Massachusetts. He served time in a Connecticut prison. DeNicola called a “49-year-old fashion plate of the Hartford-Springfield rackets” was said to have been killed because of his own greed as he was expanding his bookie operations into the Worcester area.
Several hours after his murder, a late model sedan owned by one of DeNicola’s friends from Worcester, Carlo Mastrototaro was found smoldering and charred in Shrewsbury. The police rightfully concluded that DiNicola was murdered in the Mastrototaro car in Worcester. That car and DiNicola’s were driven to the Framingham location which is right off exit 12 of the Massachusetts Turnpike. He was then transferred to his car and plopped into the passenger seat. Bloody footprints were seen on the ground next to the car and on the passenger door. The killers then drove back to Worcester and destroyed the car and the evidence of the murder.
Mastrototaro would be convicted for transporting stolen securities in interstate commerce in 1970 based on testimony of Vincent Teresa. Back in October 1968, Teresa had been charged in 58 indictments in Berkshire County in Pittsfield in connection with a stolen car ring. He was represented by Francis J. DiMento of DiMento and Sullivan law firm.
They were the two partners in DiMento and Sullivan law firm. I was the only legal associate in the office at the time. I was just starting to get my feet wet as a criminal defense attorney. I had only been with the firm for two or three months when DiMento came into my office. He told me that he was on trial in the federal court in Boston. He could not go out to Pittsfield. He told me to go to Pittsfield and get a continuance.
I dutifully went out to the western part of the state carrying my briefcase that contained a pad of blank legal paper and my lunch. When I got there as I waited in the attorneys’ room for the case to be called, I received a ribbing from other attorneys about me being a big gun attorney from Boston representing organized crime figures. I was far from that.
Judge Francis J. Quirico, a man with a sour and mean disposition who later ended up on the Supreme Judicial Court, came into the courtroom. The case was called. I stood up. I introduced myself as being counsel for Teresa. I asked for the continuance explaining that DiMento was on trial in Boston federal court. Because an attorney could not be in two places at once, this was a valid and routine request that was almost always granted especially if the attorney was in the middle of a trial.
Quirico asked me if I were a Massachusetts attorney. I thought it odd because I had already indicated that I was. Nevertheless, I responded in the affirmative. He then said “your motion for a continuance is denied. The case is held for trial.” He then asked where my client, the defendant Vincent Teresa, was. I had never met the guy. I do not know why but I looked around the courtroom as if searching for him among the spectators even though I had no idea what he looked like. The court officer called out his name.
No one answered. I had no idea but said “he’s on his way.” Quirico said, “as soon as he gets here, we will impanel a jury.” He left the bench. I went up to the clerk. I asked to see the indictments which I was looking at for the first time. I figured I should know something about the case I was about to try. As I recall, I did not no get too worried about my predicament because I had no choice. I set about to learn as much as I could to prepare for trial. I had tried some minor jury cases before but had never been in superior court before a 12-person jury.
I didn’t get the chance to try my first 12-person jury trial solely by the seat of my pants. Instead, a short time later word came to the court that Teresa had an accident driving out the Massachusetts Turnpike. He was in the hospital in Worcester. Quirico ordered an arrest warrant to issue.
I could finally escape from Pittsfield. On the way back to Boston, I stopped at the hospital to see “my client” to tell him what happened. He was lying on a gurney with a white sheet tossed over him. He was quite corpulent. My inital impression was that I had found Captain Ahab’s white whale. I gave him the news, left, and never had anything to do with him again. I think he turned state’s evidence after that. I sometimes wondered whether he crashed on purpose because he had heard I was going to represent him.
The burning of Mastrototaro’s car in Worcester suggested that the murder of DeNicola was committed there. Additionally, two divers swimming near a bridge in a lake near where the burned car was found discovered five revolvers. Testing by the Massachusetts State Police ballistics experts in December 1960 linked the guns to the DeNicola murder.
The question that remained was whether this murder was part of the Boston gang wars? Police intelligence had suggested that Jerry Angiulo was attempting to extend his control of gambling into Worcester. Was DeNicola in the way?
Attorney General Edward J. McCormack set up a task force to investigate this murder. He called for a meeting. He said the purpose of the meeting was to determine if “the DiNicola and DeMarco killings have any connection with an organized crime syndicate in Massachusetts.” The answer was a resounding yes.
A little over two weeks prior to the discovery of DeNicola’s body, a “Little Apalachin” meeting was held in Worcester among the Mafia bosses of Massachusetts, Rhode Island and Connecticut. It was estimated that between 100 and 200 Mafia gangsters met at two restaurants. Later the top twenty-five, including several from Boston, went off to a hotel room to discuss business.
The head of the New England mob, Raymond L.S. Patriarca, admitted he was there. He said that he knew DeNicola slightly. It may have been the move by DeNicola into the rackets in Worcester that prompted the meeting in the first place. The Little Apalachin meeting was clearly called to settle disputes and allocate territories. Police surmised the fate of DeNicola was settled that night.
It was suggested that DeNicola had pocketed between ten and twelve thousand dollars that belonged to the Mafia. Another suggestion was that he was cutting into the business of the Springfield Mafia. He was warned twice to stop but he did not heed the warnings. Then when the Springfield Mafia learned that inside information had been given to the investigators, they suspected that DeNicola was the leak.
Much speculation surrounds the DeNicola murder but no solid evidence. Patriarca’s involvement points to his close connection to Worcester where he was born and where his wife grew up. He controlled the rackets there. In a 1964 conversation, Raymond Patriarca and Jerry Angiulo discussed the finance of the Indian Meadows Country Club in Westborough, MA, a town next to Worcester. Angiulo expressed an interest in firing the Worcester guy who managed the club. This conversation showed he was taking an active role in the happenings in that city.
I think it is easy to conclude that DeNicola was a Mafia hit. Most likely because the word on the street was that he was cooperating with the police. Several murders share the similar cause. The Little Apalachin meeting under Patriarca who controlled business in Worcester settled his fate. It was most likely left to Gerry Angiulo to decide how it would happen.