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Jury Hears Tapes Of Mafia Induction Ceremony

July 4, 1991 GMT

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) _ A mobster at a secret initiation ceremony chuckled that ″only the ... ghosts″ would ever know what had gone on there. Federal prosecutors proved him wrong Wednesday.

The government closed its racketeering case against eight reputed members of the Patriarca crime family by playing for jurors a recording of a Mafia induction ceremony.

All the Mafia cliches were there: blood oaths, loyalty pledges spoken in Italian and vows to kill stool pigeons. It could have been a scene from ″The Godfather.″

″They call it Cosa Nostra, they call it my ... organization, and this and that, and the Mafia. It is Mafia,″ says Biagio DiGiacomo, a reputed Boston mob captain who conducted the ceremony.

The tapes were made Oct. 29, 1989, at a house in Medford, Mass. Seventeen alleged mobsters from Connecticut, Massachusetts and Rhode Island attended the ceremony, two FBI agents testified.

Eight reputed Patriarca family members are on trial for allegedly running the violent New England crime family. Two defendants attended the induction rite. The prosecution rested its case after playing the tape.

Four new members were inducted at the ceremony, agent Michael Buckley said. He identified them as Vincent Federico, Carmen Tortora, Robert DeLuca and Richard Floramo

″If I told you one of (your brothers) was informer, a police informer gonna put somebody in prison, and I told you must kill them, would you do that for me without hesitation?″ Floramo was asked by Joseph Russo, reputed family counselor, or ″consigliere.″

″He has to go,″ Floramo replied.

The new members were brought separately into a room where they swore in Italian not to reveal family secrets, drew blood from their trigger fingers, and burned a picture of the family’s patron saint, according to the tapes.

″As burns this saint, so will burn my soul,″ said each inductee in Italian. ″I swear to enter alive into this organization and get out dead.″

Prosecutors introduced the tape recording, over the defense objections, to bolster their contention that the Patriarca family is a continuing illegal enterprise, a key element in winning racketeering convictions.

The FBI planted secret microphones in the house, which belonged to Federico’s sister, after Federico listed the address on a prison furlough application.

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Reputed family boss Raymond J. ″Junior″ Patriarca also was at the ceremony, Buckley said. He is to be tried later with six other defendants in Boston, including Tortora, DiGiacomo and Russo.

″We’re all here to bring in some new members into our family and more than that, to start maybe a new beginning,″ Patriarca said on the tape.

In closing the initiation, reputed Boston captain Vincent Ferrara was heard on the tape saying: ″Only the ... ghosts knows what really took place over here today, by God.″

After the initiation, high-ranking family members instructed the new members in the history of the Mafia and its family hierarchy. They also set ground rules for conducting business.

″All business deals, legal or illegal, should be brought to the table,″ Patriarca said. ″If you know anybody at this table can aid you in a business, legitimate or illegitimate, your obligation is to come to us first.″

There were strict rules about identifying family members.

″Years ago we used to kiss each other,″ DiGiacomo said. ″We try to stop kissing in public because we stand out.″

Buckley said Hartford defendants Louis Failla, a family soldier from East Hartford, and Gaetano Milano, a soldier from East Longmeadow, Mass., were photographed leaving the house. The jury also heard tapes of a conversation they held at the ceremony.

Prosecutors say Milano was the triggerman in the June 1989 slaying of William ″The Wild Guy″ Grasso, a captain from New Haven. Three other defendants are also charged in the slaying.

Also facing trial are Frank A. ″Frankie Pugs″ Pugliano; his brother, Louis F. ″Louie Pugs″ Pugliano; and Frank Colantoni Jr., all from western Massachusetts; Nicholas L. Bianco, of Providence, R.I.; Americo ″Cigar″ Petrillo, of Old Saybrook; and Salvatore ″Butch″ D’Aquila Jr., of Middletown.