Roxbury Gang Murders – Nathan Colsia

Nathan Colsia was involved in bookmaking and other gambling activities for many years. His criminal record went back to 1946. In 1950, he offered Watertown Selectman Chairman Roy C. Papalia $500 a month for “protection” for his planned bookie operations. He made a cold call to Papalia to arrange a meeting. He told him he was a bookmaker, that the police captain was making his job difficult, that he could make 10 or 12 grand a year and all he wanted was three hours’ notice of any raid that was planned. The chairman went to the police. Colsia was indicted and did six months in the house of corrections for that offer.

In 1952, Colsia was arrested in Somerville for running a bookie operation which was doing about $1,200 a day. At some point Colsia moved his business to the Back Bay and then over to Tremont Street in Roxbury.  Tremont was the same street where Wimpy kept the Brink’s money hidden in his office and where Buccelli met his end. Colsia put himself down as the owner and operator of Colsia Finance Co., and Variety Amusement, Inc. at a Tremont Street address which was near Roxbury Crossing.

Colsia had lent money to Henry Reddington.  Reddington ran some of the Roxbury and the South End criminal activities and will be a later victim of Wimpy’s gang. Reddington used the money from Colsia to buy a house at 21 Wood Street in Milton. He gave Colsia a second mortgage. Reddington’s house was blown up by an explosive on November 1, 1962.

Shortly before midnight on Tuesday, November 13, 1962, the police received a call suggesting they go to the location where Colsia’s green panel truck was parked. It was in the Port Norfolk section of Dorchester. The police found Colsia face down in the back of the truck partially hidden by a blanket. He had been beaten and shot twice. The last time he was seen alive was about six o’clock the previous Friday when he left work. He was found with “nearly $2000 in his pocket, a roll of bills held together with an elastic.” The money ruled out a robbery.

The police went to the location of his business. They said it did not look like a finance company but rather a place to store vending machines. The windows of the office were painted black. It was reported that Colsia was in the cigarette machine and juke box business in the Greater Boston area for six or seven years. He had built up a profitable business.

On November 24, 1962, an article in the Billboard Music Week stated on page 50, “Boston police believe that a reigning Rhode Island racketeer ordered the assassination because Colsia allegedly ignored a warning not to muscle in on the distribution of vending and music machines in the territory reserved by the Rhode Island kingpin for himself.” The report went on to say Colsia’s truck was forced to stop by an unidentified car. This report make sense because Colsia and Reddington were doing business in the wrong area.  The kingpin would have been Raymond Patriarca. Wimpy, as Patriarca’s local surrogate fro the South End and Roxbury, would have gotten the job done, either by himself or by one of his gang members.


  1. Interesting article and I hope that there is more soon.