JOSEPH (ANGIE) DeMARCO, 42, November 12, 1959
Six months after Goldstein was found, the body of Joseph (Angie) DeMarco, 42, was found in the Everett city dump. DeMarco called a “North End Shakedown Artist” had been convicted for the homicide of Anthony Pomo in 1941 along with three other men. He pleaded guilty to manslaughter in January 1943.
He was sentenced to 18 to 20 years in prison. Evidence showed that one of DeMarco’s co-defendants was “a pickup man” for a North End lottery. Police believed Pomo held up that lottery man in the North End and got away with $1500. The boss of the lottery sent DeMarco and the others to get the money back. One of the men shot Pomo. Demarco stabbed him several times with a knife. DeMarco was released in 1955 after spending 12 years in state prison
When DeMarco got back on the street, he was feared and disliked. He was known for shaking down bookies, loan sharks, dice games, and other fast money operatives. The North End told Demarco to knock it off. He did not. The word around the North End was that Demarco would not last a year. He did not.
One detective said, “it’s a tough murder to solve because hundreds of guys had good reason to want DeMarco dead.” A real professional left his trademark sign on DeMarco’s body. The police found “a ring of six bullet holes in the back of DeMarco’s head that could be covered with a half dollar.” A report said that the “murderer, believed to be a slay-for-pay guy from out of town who was hired by DeMarco’s enemies, left what police say was his trademark . . .. “
The Middlesex District Attorney John Droney, empaneled a grand jury to investigate his murder stating the obvious: “it was unquestionably a gangland killing.” Droney tried to get the testimony of Anthony “Tony Canadian” Sandrelli, one of five men who “formed the first semblance in Boston of what is now called Cosa Nostra in 1931.” According to police information, Sandrelli owned The Coliseum Restaurant, an afterhours joint, where DeMarco was last seen alive at 3:00 a.m. on the day he was found murdered.
Tony Canadian took the Fifth. He was held in criminal contempt and sentenced to a year in jail. He appealed. The Supreme Judicial Court reversed the finding and let him out.
Another Boston gangster, Frank J. Balliro, was held on bail under suspicion of involvement in DeMarco’s murder as well as for the DeNicola murder (see next). On February 18, 1960, Trooper John R. O’Donovan stopped Balliro on a motor vehicle charge. Balliro offered $500 to O’Donovan “to forget the whole thing.” Balliro offered the wrong trooper. O’Donovan, who served in the Marines, locked Balliro up. Balliro died in 1969 on New Year’s Day when at 4:15 a.m. his car swirled off the icy and snow-covered McClellan Highway in East Boston.
I say that Balliro picked the wrong Trooper not only because O’Donovan later became a state police colonel but because of numerous interactions that I had with him over the years. He was the boss of the State Police Investigative Services. We often butted heads over investigations and use of troopers. He believed only state police could be used to do electronic surveillance while I used them along with local and other police. For several years, he would not let the state police work with me. He worked out of State Police Headquarters at 1010 Commonwealth Avenue in Boston. Later, after we both retired, we had a nice sit-down session over a long lunch in a restaurant across the street from 1010. I left thinking had we not been such hot heads, we would have been better off. We should have taken the time to clear the air much earlier in our careers.
O’Donovan’s boycott of my county only applied to the Special Services Unit. I had worked with the Unit on several cases previously, but he decreed it could not work with me again. Still, during this prohibition period, I did a wiretap for O’Donovan looking for evidence against a gang of robbers that the state police were chasing. Eventually O’Donovan lifted his boycott and the Special Services Unit were allowed to worked with me again. Things went awry, but that’s a story for another day.
O’Donovan was a trooper’s trooper. He was as tough as nails and once was shot chasing a well-known criminal, Myles Connor. He loved the State Police. O’Donovan’s regard and deep respect for the State Police is shown when State Trooper John Naimovich was wrongly indicted by federal prosecutor Jeremiah O’Sullivan based on phony evidence provided by the FBI. After he was indicted, Naimovich was abandoned by most on his job except five or six other State Police. Steve Lowell, a young trooper stands out as an adamant supporter of Naimovich’s innocence. O’Donovan may have been agnostic on the guilt or innocence of Naimovich but he felt a deep-seated obligation to back up a member of his force. O’Donovan would meet secretly with me to keep me appraised of the case from the State Police vantage point. I strongly believed in Naimovich’s innocence having worked closely with him for years. Steve Lowell and I were subpoenaed to be witnesses for his defense. Naimovich was acquitted by a federal jury.
Nothing ever came of the Droney investigation of the DeMarco murder. This was Droney’s first murder case as district attorney. Unlike other District Attorneys at the time, Droney was willing to use the grand jury to try to make a case. An article in the Boston Globe by Jerome Sullivan, its crime reporter at the time, summed up the situation: “Like most other gangland killings, this one probably won’t be solved. The curtain of silence is always drawn in cases of this kind. No one ever knows anything, or as the police put it, ‘everyone is an oil can’ – slick and slippery when it comes to answering questions.”
Another example of the oil can is to be found when two brothers were shot at an Andrew Square café in South Boston. There were around 50 people in the café at the time. Boston Police Captain Herbert Mulloney said: “It is unbelievable that not one person in the dozens who witnessed the shootings would come forward to aid us.” He added: “It is still more unbelievable that not one witness placed an emergency call to police, in view of the fact two men were seriously wounded and desperately in need of an ambulance.” He told how one witness who was there at the time of the shooting said that everything was “serene.”
People did not want to be “oil cans.” They did not want to say that a shooting which causes people to duck under booths or run for cover was serene. It is just that no bystander wanted to be involved in washing the crimes of gangsters in public. It was a matter of necessity and survival. The consequences of speaking out against gun carrying hoodlums were stark.
The DeMarco hit was clearly a Mafia hit. He was operating in the North End in the home of the Mafia. The Mafia was intent on keeping discipline. DeMarco was not playing by its rules. The solution was to bring in an out-of-town gunman who would leave his calling card.