Wednesday, May 7, 2008

'Cheese Man' faces Big Dig bribery charges

Carmen "Cheese Man" DiNunzio, 50, was arrested last week in connection with a corruption probe into Boston's Big Dig highway construction project, according to stories by Shelley Murphy of the Boston Globe, Edmund H. Mahoney of the Hartford CT Courant and Jessica Heslam of the Boston Herald.

DiNunzio, Anthony J. D'Amore, 55, of Revere, and Andrew Marino, 42, of Chelmsford, appeared in U.S. District Court in Boston after being charged with conspiracy to commit bribery in a federally funded program. DiNunzio pleaded not guilty. Arraignment of D'Amore and Marino was postponed until May 21. DiNunzio is being held at Devens federal prison hospital because he reportedly suffers from a large number of health problems, including diabetes, sleep apnea and a heart condition.

An FBI statement indicates that DiNunzio met Oct. 9, 2006, with someone he believed to be a corrupt Massachusetts Highway Department employee but who was actually an undercover FBI agent. DiNunzio allegedly gave the agent $10,000 down payment toward a more sizeable bribe in order to secure a $6 million contract to provide fill for the Big Dig project.

During a taped discussion with DiNunzio, who owns the Fresh Cheese Shop on the North End's Endicott Street, the agent reportedly feigned concern that Marino would back out of the arrangements.

DiNunzio: "Listen to me. Right here you got the guarantee from here."
Agent: "I don't know you."
DiNunzio: "Look it, I don't even come out, I come out cause of this guy. I'm the Cheeseman."
Agent: "You're the Cheeseman?"
DiNunzio: "You ask anybody about me. We straighten out a lot of beefs, a lot of things."

DiNunzio already faces extortion and gambling charges in connection with a 2006 indictment. Authorities believe he has held a leadership position - possibly as high as underboss - in the Boston portion of the New England Crime Family. He faces up to 15 years in prison if convicted on those charges. He has maintained his innocence.

Related stories from 2006:

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US Mafia was born in New Orleans

book cover


Deep Water:
Joseph P. Macheca and the
Birth of the American Mafia

Written by Thomas Hunt and Martha Macheca Sheldon, Deep Water captures the life and times of Joseph P. Macheca. It finally sets the record straight on the man who was a warrior for the corrupt New Orleans Democratic machine, a pioneer of the Crescent City’s fruit trade, a Confederate privateer and the legendary “godfather” of the first Mafia organization to germinate in American soil.
While answering at last the questions surrounding the 1890 assassination of Police Chief David Hennessy and the subsequent Crescent City lynchings, Deep Water establishes the factual details of Macheca’s life and sets them against the vivid backdrop of Gilded Age New Orleans. Published by iUniverse.

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Editor/publisher of crime history journal, Informer. Publisher of American Mafia history website Moderator of Mafia-related 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.