Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Informant Mercurio dies at 70

The death of Angelo "Sonny" Mercurio (right), a New England mobster who turned into an informant and helped the FBI listen in on a Patriarca Family induction ceremony, was revealed by a family member this week. A story by David Abel and April Simpson of the Boston Globe said Mercurio died on Dec. 11 of a pulmonary embolism. He was 70.

Mercurio's cooperation with the FBI led to the first-ever bugging of a Mafia induction ceremony. In October 1989, electronic devices were placed in a Medford, MA, home, and agents listened in as the New England Crime Family initiated four new members. The family reportedly was led at that time by Raymond Patriarca Jr. (left), who attended the ceremony. Sixteen other mobsters attended. Patriarca was jailed in the early 1990s, winning his release in December of 1998.

Working with both the Boston branch of the Mafia and the non-Italian Winter Hill Gang in the underworld, Mercurio also ran Vanessa's Italian Food Shop in the Prudential Center. In the late 1980s, the FBI bugged the shop, acquiring enough evidence against Mercurio to convince him to work for the now-notorious FBI handler John J. Connolly (also handler for James "Whitey" Bulger and Stephen "the Rifleman" Flemmi).

In addition to providing evidence against his fellow Mafiosi, Mercurio eventually helped convict Connolly of racketeering. Connolly is now serving a 10-year sentence on a 2002 convicion. Mercurio's work on that case caused a judge to reduce a 110-month prison sentence against him.
Mercurio went into the federal witness-protection program. He spent his last years in Little Rock, Arkansas. His mother-in-law, Judith Gopoian, brought news of his death to the press, according to a story in the Providence Journal.

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Editor/publisher of crime history journal, Informer. Publisher of American Mafia history website mafiahistory.us. Moderator of Mafia-related Google+ community and Yahoo discussion group. Author of Wrongly Executed? Coauthor of Deep Water: Joseph P. Macheca and the Birth of the American Mafia and DiCarlo: Buffalo's First Family of Crime. Contributor of American Mafia history to Australian-published Mafia: The Necessary Reference to Organized Crime. Writer/co-writer of crime history articles for Informer, On the Spot Journal, Cigar City Magazine, Tampa Mafia Magazine.