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:

Former Mafia lieutenant charged with gambling

Vincent M. Ferrara, former lieutenant in the New England Mafia Family, has been charged with participating in a Boston area gambling ring, according to a story by Shelley Murphy of the Boston Globe.

Ferrara, 59, served almost 16 years in prison after a federal racketeering conviction. He was released from prison in May 2005. The gambling offense - a misdemeanor - generally carries a potential penalty of up to a year in jail and a $2,000 fine. However, the penalty for Ferrara could be much higher, as he remains on federal probation. If a federal judge decides that he violated conditions of his release, Ferrara could be sent back to federal prison for three years.

Ferrara was one of 13 people indicted April 29 by a Norfolk County grand jury. The grand jury charged Dominic Santoro, 62, of Quincy, of serving as leader of the gambling ring, according to the Boston Globe.

Ferrara' s federal prison sentence was shortened after U.S. District Judge Mark L. Wolf ruled that prosecutors were guilty of misconduct in his case. U.S. attorneys did not reveal to defense attorneys that a key witness had backed away from a statement linking Ferrara with the 1985 murder of Vincent "Jimmy" Limoli. Ferrara said he was uninvolved in the Limoli killing, but he pleaded guilty to racketeering and murder charges in a plea deal.

About Me

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Writer, editor, researcher, web publisher, specializing in organized crime history. (I am available to assist with your historical/genealogical research, as well as your writing and editing chores. Email me at
I am editor/publisher of crime history journal, Informer; publisher of American Mafia history website; moderator of Mafia-related online forums; 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.