Joey Barboza: The Animal of the New England Mob
John William Tuohy
Barboza Joseph AKA The Animal Born September 20, 1932 – February 11, 1976) Barboza was a Portuguese-American mafioso and one of the most feared mob hitmen during the 1960s. He is reputed to have murdered at least 26 men in his lifetime—yet never proven.
Barboza, also known as "The Animal", "The Wild Thing", "The Nigger", "Joseph Donati", "Joseph Bentley" and "The Joe Valachi of New England", was born to Portuguese-American emigrants from Lisbon, Portugal who settled in the old whaling city of New Bedford, Massachusetts
He earned the nickname "The Animal" after an altercation at a Revere, Massachusetts club that was patronized by figures of organized crime and Patriarca crime family underboss Henry Tameleo. Barboza was at the nightclub drinking and carrying on when an older Italian patron who did not enjoy Barboza's crude behavior told him so. Barboza approached the man and slapped him hard across the face. Tameleo, who was seated not far away, shouted angrily, "I don't want you to ever slap that man. I don't want you to touch anybody with your hands again." Barboza, now brooding at the bar, suddenly leaned over and bit the man's ear. "I didn't touch him with my hands", he snarled at Tameleo.
Barboza was first sent to prison in 1950 to the Massachusetts Correctional Institution - Concord for five years. Barboza would later lead a wild prison break in the summer of 1953, which would become the largest in the prison's seventy-five year history. Joe and six other fellow inmates had guzzled contraband whiskey and pilfered amphetamine tablets, overpowered four prison guards and raced away in two separate cars. During their furlough of freedom they beat random people in the street, cruised the bars in Boston's Scollay Square, wandered to the neighborhoods of Lynn and Revere, and were finally apprehended at a subway station in East Boston. The escape party had barely lasted twenty-four hours. That November, while awaiting trial for his prison break, Barboza slugged a prison guard in the cafeteria for no reason. Three months later, he tossed a table at a guard's chest when he entered his cell.
It is thought that he first met figures of Boston organized crime while incarcerated at Walpole, and it is thought that they arranged to have him paroled in 1958. He became a recognized figure in East Boston's organized crime circles and was a regular habituate of a bar on the corner of Bennington Street and Brook Street which became known among local criminals as "Barboza's Corner". His crew of small-time burglars and thieves consisted of Joseph W. Amico, Patrick Fabiano, James Kearns, Arthur Bratsos, Thomas DePrisco, father and son team Joseph Dermody and Ronald Dermody, Carlton Eaton, Edward Goss and Nicholas Femia. All of his crew would all later be murdered by rival mobsters including himself. The crew was officially supervised for the Patriarca crime family by Stephen Flemmi.
It was widely believed in law official circles that Barboza had performed contract killings for Raymond L.S. Patriarca. By January 1966, Barboza was considered a powerful crime figure in the Boston underworld and was often represented by F. Lee Bailey which proved to be a huge mistake-But he was also facing major problems.
The authorities were constantly on his heels. For disturbing the peace one night at the same Revere nightclub where he chewed the ear off, he slugged a Boston Police Department Detective and received a six-month sentence. After his release from prison and his graduation from an expensive cooking school he was shipped out on the S.S. President Wilson to the Orient.
By 1966, Barboza he had a very turbulent position in the Boston underworld. Before he had chewed off the mobster's ear, he had been shot at while standing outside his home in Chelsea. The local authorities believed there had been other unreported attempts. Brimming with reckless power, he was not abiding to the traditional rules of the La Cosa Nostra. One night he went into a nightclub that was paying Gennaro Anguilo for protection and demanded that the owner make payments to him as well. By mid-1966, the unrelenting attention from the law Barboza received from the authorities only made his standing in organized crime more tenuous.
In October 1966, he came to terms with his falling-out with the organized crime element after he and three local hoodlums were arrested on weapons charges while cruising the Combat Zone in Boston. His accomplices were released on bail, but Barboza had his bail set at $100,000 which he could not afford. Nobody from the Patriarca crime family came down to post his bail and he heard that it was the Mafia family who tipped off the cops.
Two of his fellow compatriots and members of his crew, Arthur C. Bratsos and Thomas J. DePrisco, went to raise Barboza's bail. Five weeks later, after raising $59,000 the pair were murdered in the Nite Lite Cafe by soldiers serving under Ralph "Ralphie Chong" Lamattina, who served in the crew of Ilario Zannino. After relieving them of their bail money, they stuffed their bodies in the back seat of Bratsos's car and dumped it in South Boston, hoping to throw blame onto the Irish gangs. However, a mob associate named Joseph Lanzi tipped the cops about the murder. He was later murdered by Mafia associates Carmen Gagliardi, Frank Otero and Ben DeChristoforo.
The FBI began diligent efforts to turn Barboza into an informant. In December, Joe Amico, another friend of Barboza’s, was murdered. The following month, after a ten-day trial, Barboza was sentenced to a five-year term at Walpole on the weapons charges. In the summer of 1967, Steven Flemmi met with Joseph and informed him that Gennaro Anguilo and his brothers had plans to murder him. In June 1967, Barboza turned FBI informant while imprisoned for murder, and eventually testified against Raymond Patriarca, Sr. before becoming one of the first informants to enter the Witness Protection Program. The government would not protect his wife and two young children if he refused to testify and even after the ordeal ended never kept any of their promises—he traded one evil for another.
Barboza went on to testify against Raymond Patriarca and many high-ranking members and associates of the New England family. On June 20, Patriarca and Tameleo were indicted for conspiracy to murder in the 1966 killing of Providence bookmaker Willie Marfeo. On August 9, Gennaro Angiulo was accused of participating in the murder of Rocco DiSeglio. Finally in October, six men were charged with the March 1965 murder of Edward “Teddy” Deegan. Shortly after the indictment of Raymond Patriarca, which drew front page stories about Barboza as a turncoat, Barboza wrote to the Boston Herald: "All I want to be is left alone." The La Cosa Nostra was willing to pay Barboza $25,000 to quit talking. He showed some interest in the deal raising the price to $50,000 which was agreed upon but later turned down after consulting his lawyer.
Gennaro Anguilo was later found not guilty. Despite efforts by reporters to coax jurors to explain their deliberations, none did. Twenty years later, however, jury foreman Kenneth Matthews said none of the sixteen jurors had found Barboza believable stating: "He didn't help the state at all. He wasn't reliable. He was nothing as a witness."
While the trials were going on, the mob tried to get at Barboza by planting a bomb in the car of his attorney, John Fitzgerald. Resulting in Fitzgerald losing his right leg below the knee. After that Barboza was moved around frequently from Thacher Island to Fort Devens and even to the Junior Officers' quarters located in Fort Knox, Kentucky. Barboza owned a German Shepherd Dog and while at Fort Knox he would walk his dog with future FBI agent John Morris. John Morris was a member of the military police at the time. In May 1968, the Deegan trial began. After 50 days of testimony and deliberations, the jury returned a guilty verdict. Found guilty and sentenced to death were Peter J. Limone, Louis Greco, Henry Tameleo and Ronald Cassesso. Sentenced to life in prison were Joseph Salvati and Wilfred Roy French.
Barboza was given a one-year prison term, including time served. He was paroled in March 1969 and relocated to Santa Rosa, California where he enrolled in a culinary arts school and is rumored to have killed ten more men. In 1971, he pleaded guilty to a second-degree murder charge in California and was sentenced to five years at Folsom Prison. At prison Barboza became an amateur poet and wrote poems portraying the evils of the La Cosa Nostra and his own fearlessness, "Boston Gang War", "The Mafia Double Crosses", "A Cat's Lives" and "The Gang War Ends". Additionally, he was a talented artist.
Barboza was paroled in October 1975 and moved into a $250-a-month apartment under the name "Joseph Donati". He took the last name from small-time underworld figures, identical twin brothers Richard and Robert Donati. After he was befriended by small-time South Boston hoodlum James Chalmas, Gennaro Anguilo was at last informed of his whereabouts. On February 11, 1976, Barboza left Chalmas' San Francisco apartment and walked towards his Oldsmobile. He was armed with a Colt 38 but never had a chance to draw it. He was hit by four shotgun blasts from close range, killing him instantly. F. Lee Bailey was quoted as having said his client's death (referring to Joseph Barboza) was "no great loss to society," but his young daughter never recovered from his death and was consumed by grief. Ilario Zannino, chief enforcer of Gennaro Anguilo, was later overheard saying to an associate on a hidden bug that it was J. R. Russo who had assassinated Barboza. In the conversation, Zannino described Russo as "a genius with a carbine".
While working with the corrupt FBI agent H. Paul Rico, he helped to frame Mafia associates Joseph Salvati, Peter Limone, Louis Greco as well as his former mob superior, Henry Tameleo for the murder of a small time criminal named Edward "Teddy" Deegan in Chelsea, Massachusetts, protecting the real culprit. Deegan was the maternal uncle of Gerry Indelicato, future aide to Governor Michael Dukakis.
Deegan had been marked for death by the New England family in 1965 for several burglaries which he had committed with future Winter Hill Gang heavyweight, Stephen "The Rifleman" Flemmi.
Out of the six people convicted for the murder, only Ronald "Ronnie the Pig" Casseso and Wilfred Roy French were actually involved and present in the alley where the murder took place. FBI agent Paul Rico had offered French and Casseso leniency if they would corroborate Barboza's false testimony. Both French and Casseso refused the offer and when French was threatened with the death penalty he responded by telling Rico to "warm up the electric chair." Cassesso died in prison 30 years later. French was finally freed 34 years later.
Winter Hill enforcer John Martorano became a government witness in 1999 after learning that both Steven Flemmi and James "Whitey' Bulger were FBI informants and have been delivering information about the Mafia and the Winter Hill Gang to them. In his plea agreement, he told the Drug Enforcement Administration agent that Barboza had admitted to lying about the men convicted of killing Teddy Deegan. Barboza allegedly said that the Patriarca crime family had "screwed me and now I’m going to screw as many of them as possible."
Martorano also revealed that Vincent "Jimmie the Bear" Flemmi, the brother of Stephen Flemmi, had admitted to murdering Deegan. Vincent Flemmi and his brother were both acting as informants to the FBI. Instead of arresting Vincent Flemmi, the FBI knowingly let four men go to prison for a crime they didn’t commit. Barboza used this opportunity to settle some old grudges with some local North Enders and Mafia associates who he felt had not shown him the proper respect.
Tameleo and Greco died in prison after serving almost 30 years, and Salvati and Limone were finally released in 1997 and 2001, respectively. Lawyers representing the families of Greco, Tameleo, Salvati and Limone currently have lawsuits totaling in excess of one billion dollars filed against the Federal government.