Raymond Patriarca ruled New England organized crime for nearly fifty years.
For the past year, GoLocal reporters and editors have been working to gain access to the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s (FBI) file for one of America’s most infamous criminals and one of Rhode Island’s notorious favorite sons – Raymond Patriarca.
Launching on August 3, 2015 and continuing over the next few months, GoLocal will be releasing the FBI files in segments – with expert insights and related documents – each Monday. This weekly series is being called, “The Patriarca Papers.”
From the 1940’s to the 1990’s, New England organized crime was led by Patriarca (who died in 1984), and then by his son Raymond “Junior” Patriarca.
Patriarca not only dominated New England, but by many accounts was one of the most influential criminals in America. There has long been an urban myth that Patriarca was the foundation for Don Corleone’s character in Mario Puzo’s “The Godfather” – and after reading this dossier on Patriarca, the event and characters often seem remarkably similar.
“I first met Raymond when he was held on ‘accessory to murder’ charges in 1981 but as a result of a heart ailment, he was admitted to Miriam Hospital. I spent a night or two with him at the hospital. The manner in which he carried himself and his mere presence was that of an old school mobster. He exuded confidence,” said Brendan Doherty, former Superintendent of the Rhode Island State Police.
FBI files unveil hundreds of connections, alleged crimes and business partners of Patriarca that have never been disclosed before in such detail. The Patriarca Papers are a tour of New England, and these files bring forward alleged connections to high level politicians, a tie into one of New England’s favorite amusement parks, and linkage to one of the region’s biggest bankers, to name just a few of the elements in the files.
The FBI materials begin in 1954 and continue into the 1980’s, and these files tell such tales as paying off an aide to the Governor of Massachusetts to get pardoned, Patriarca’s involvement in a prison break that lead to two prison officials being murdered, and his early days of violence.
The stories about Raymond Patriarca range from condemnation about his violence to praise for his commitment to the Federal Hill neighborhood.
“I did meet him (Patriarca), when I was campaigning on Federal Hill,” said Arlene Violet, former Rhode Island Attorney General, in an interview with GoLocal. “I don’t know if he stepped out of his office because he knew I was on the hill, but I literally almost bumped into him.”
‘Hiya, Sister’ he said,” continued Violet. “You’re no brother,’ I responded.”
Nearly 10,000 Pages
Starting in 2014, GoLocal began the process of securing nearly 10,000 pages of FBI documents. In May of 2015, the FBI approved GoLocal’s request for the files and transferred hundreds of individual files containing nearly ten thousand pages of FBI memos and official bureau documents. Correspondingly, the FBI withheld hundreds of pages.
On many pages, the Bureau has redacted some information. Names of those interviewed, the identity of some of the FBI’s Special Agents (SA), and other information has been blocked out. However, in the preparation of the presentation of The Patriarca Papers, it many cases names and information in one section of the files was found to be disclosed later in the material.
Analysis of the Files – Leading Experts
Along with the upcoming weekly presentation of the files, GoLocal will provide expert analysis from a range of top law enforcement and criminal attorneys, including former RI State Police Superintendent Brendan Doherty, Criminal Defense Attorney Artin Coloian, and former Rhode Island Attorney General Arlene Violet as well as many others.
GoLocal will also be providing a glossary of terms and a list of major characters during the course of series and each will be updated weekly.
Access to the FBI Files
Pursuant to federal law, GoLocal filed for the release of the FBI file pertaining to Patriarca. The Freedom of Information Act allows any person—except fugitives, federal agencies, and foreign intelligence agencies—to request information about “organizations, businesses, investigations, historical events, incidents, groups, or deceased persons.”
The FBI notified GoLocal that the request was being granted approximately three months after the request was filed. The files were received by GoLocal a number of months later. Since May, GoLocal has been digitizing the files for presentation.
The series is sponsored by the Chow Fun Food Group.