BOSTON (AP) – “I’ll be back before my pork chops get cold!” Boston Mafia leader Gennaro “Jerry” Angiulo boasted when FBI agents hauled him off in handcuffs from Francesco’s Restaurant in the North End in 1983.
Twenty-four years later, Francesco’s is long gone from the North End, but Angiulo, 88, may soon be back for the first time since that night after being granted parole.
The U.S. Parole Commission granted Angiulo’s parole request two weeks ago and ordered his release from a federal prison hospital in Devens, where he’s serving a 45-year prison term for racketeering, The Boston Globe reported. He’ll be freed on Sept. 18.
Angiulo was expected to return to live with his wife, Barbara, in their Nahant home. But some longtime North End residents said they’ll welcome Angiulo back any time.
“The houses haven’t changed, the restaurants hardly changed, but one thing that has changed is that there aren’t many of us left,” North End resident Fred Sarno, 69, told the Globe. “Many of his friends are gone, but I’ll be glad to see him,”
The Parole Commission approved Angiulo’s parole on June 22. Commission spokesman Stephen Husk said the commission doesn’t disclose reasons for granting a parole. Generally, the commission considers factors such as an inmate’s age, health and any changes in his or her case, he said.
Angiulo was slated for release in 2010, but his former attorney, Anthony Cardinale, said Angiulo became eligible for parole in 1996. “He’s not getting a break,” Cardinale said. “He’s actually doing considerably more time than anybody would expect him to do.”
Angiulo and his three brothers were convicted in February 1986 during the region’s first sweeping federal racketeering case against the mob.
Angiulo was the son of Sicilian immigrants who ran a North End grocery store.
He rose through the Mafia ranks under Raymond L.S. Patriarca of Providence because he was skilled at making money. Law enforcement officials say he and his brothers were disciplined operators who had a virtual monopoly on the region’s illegal gambling and loansharking.
But Angiulo was undone after the FBI planted bugs at his North End headquarters and a North End social club for three months in 1981. The bugs recorded Angiulo ordering murders and beatings and boasting about his crimes.
In 1998, it was revealed in federal court that gangsters James “Whitey” Bulger and Stephen “The Rifleman” Flemmi, who were FBI informants, visited Angiulo’s Prince Street headquarters and drew the FBI a diagram with instructions on where the bugs should be planted.
Angiulo, who acted as his own lawyer in bids to get his conviction overturned, later claimed in failed petition to the court in 2002 that he was framed by the FBI, Bulger and Flemmi.
Retired Massachusetts State Police Colonel Thomas Foley, a longtime organized crime investigator, said local organized crime had changed since Angiulo went to prison. The Mafia’s code of silence has been shattered by mobsters who’ve cooperated with law enforcement, and its mystique is gone, he said.
“Even if Jerry Angiulo wanted to get back into it, he’d have no control over those people,” Foley said. “You don’t have soldiers willing to make that type of commitment.”