Richard Calabro, left, of Cranston, and Anthony Palumbo, of Johnston, face gambling and bookmaking charges.
State and local police fanned out across the Providence metro area and northern Rhode Island early Friday to arrest three prominent mobsters, including paroled killer Frank L. “Bobo” Marrapese Jr., and 21 others on a raft of racketeering, gambling, extortion and narcotics charges.
Marrapese, 68, of Cranston, and Edward C. Lato, 65, of Providence, were arrested locally, while Alfred “Chippy” Scivola Jr., 69, of Johnston, was taken into custody in Las Vegas while on vacation.
“We cut it short,” quipped Attorney General Peter F. Kilmartin at a state police news conference at headquarters announcing the arrests.
The men are longtime made members of the Patriarca crime family, also known as the New England mob. They were all charged with racketeering, while Marrapese and Scivola were charged with multiple counts of extortion conspiracy.
Kilmartin said the sweep proves that the mob continues to have a presence in the state.
“It doesn’t sleep and neither do we,” he said.
Another significant mob associate nabbed was Thomas “Red Ball” Hartley. He was sent to prison for 10 years for his role in the 1989 fire that took the lives of two teenage boys he had hired to torch a Warwick pizza parlor.
State police Capt. James O. Demers, commander of the detective division, said the investigation was launched last fall after the police received information that Vincent R. “Big Vinny” Tallo, 49, of Johnston, allegedly was running an illegal gambling ring.
Investigators went to Superior Court and obtained authorization for a wiretap for Tallo’s cell phone. They began tracing his calls and learned, the police said, that he was taking action on professional and college sports. They also learned that he was allegedly buying and selling prescription drugs from his house.
As the probe evolved, Marrapese, Lato and Scivola emerged as Tallo’s accomplices in the alleged criminal operation.
A few months ago, Kilmartin and the state police obtained a second court order, this time to monitor and record Marrapese’s cell-phone conversations.
Investigators said that the mobster “used his standing as a made member of the Patriarca crime family” to assist and direct other accomplices to carry out various crimes including extortion.
At one point in the investigation, the state police said that Alfred Maiello, 49, of Johnston, handled nearly $400,000 in sports betting action.
All of the defendants, except for Scivola who remains in Las Vegas, were brought Friday afternoon to District Court, Providence, for their arraignments. Most of them were charged and released late in the day.
Marrapese, Lato and Scivola have lengthy criminal resumes.
In 1987, Marrapese was convicted of killing mobster Richard “Dickie” Callei in 1975. His bullet-ridden body was discovered near a golf course in Rehoboth, Mass., and the case remained unsolved for a decade.
In the 1980s, Marrapese, a feared mob enforcer, was charged with two other murders: the gangland slaying of Anthony “The Moron” Mirabella and the baseball bat beating of Ronald McElroy, of East Providence. Separate juries returned not guilty verdicts in each case.
Nonetheless, Marrapese spent 25 years at the Adult Correctional Institutions for the Callei murder and awaiting trial in the other two slayings.
In May 2008, he was paroled and released on home confinement.
Lato and Scivola have spent time in prison on a variety of charges.
They are close to Luigi “Baby Shacks” Manocchio, who was the reputed longtime New England crime boss. He is in jail awaiting trial on charges that he shook down Providence strip clubs in exchange for protection payments.
Back in the early 1980s, Scivola and Marrapese were sent to federal prison after they were convicted of hijacking a truck stacked with La-Z-Boy recliners.
In December 2006, Lato was arrested with 11 others and charged with participating in a gambling and drug ring that had ties to a bookmaker in Houston. The state police said that Lato managed the operation and supervised the activities of two known mob associates.
In 1999 Lato was convicted on charges that he played a key role in a Rhode Island-based extortion, loansharking and bookmaking ring. He spent several years in federal prison in Fort Dix, N.J., with former Providence Mayor Vincent A.. Cianci Jr., who was convicted of racketeering conspiracy for overseeing a corrupt administration at City Hall.
In recent years, Lato was working on local construction crews in Providence, and, on the weekend, he could be found power walking on Elmgrove Avenue on the city’s East Side.
KEY POINTS Gambling arrests
Frank L. “Bobo” Marrapese, 68, of 104 Elwyn St., Cranston. Racketeering, extortion conspiracy (six counts), usury and parole violation. Bail was set at $50,000 surety or $5,000 cash.
Edward C. Lato, 65, of 277 Atwells Ave., Providence. Racketeering.
Alfred “Chippy” Scivola Jr., 69, of 104 Brown St., Johnston. Racketeering and extortion conspiracy.
Vincent “Big Vinny” Tallo, 49, of 12 Poppy Hill Drive, Johnston. Racketeering, organized criminal gambling, extortion conspiracy (four counts), bookmaking, conspiracy to violate the Uniform Controlled Substances Act, possession of a firearm while committing a crime of violence, and possession of a controlled substance with intent to deliver..
Karl Anastasi, 20, of 40 Valley St., Cranston. Conspiracy to violate the Uniform Controlled Substances Act.
Richard Calabro, 58, of 141 Oxford St., Cranston. Organized criminal gambling and bookmaking, and possession of Vicodin.
Paul Calise, 56, of 64 Eddy St., Providence. Organized criminal gambling, extortion conspiracy and bookmaking.
Melissa Cato, 36, and Richard Cato, 38, of of 96 Phenix Ave. Cranston. They were both charged with conspiracy to violate the Uniform Controlled Substances Act.
John Conaty, 58, of 475 School St., Pawtucket. Conspiracy to violate the Uniform Controlled Substances Act.
Gerald Coro, 40, of 60 Hunter Ave., Johnston. Organized criminal gambling and bookmaking.
Anthony Delmonico, 55, of 39 Basil Crossing, Cranston. Racketeering and extortion conspiracy (four counts).
Gennaro Dicarlo, 53, of 15 Sunset St., North Providence. Criminal solicitation.
Christopher Disanto, 64, of 70 Woonasquatucket Ave., North Providence. Organized criminal gambling and bookmaking.
Thomas “Red Ball” Hartley, 74, of 7 Water St., Johnston. Racketeering and usury.
Robert Ianiero, 53, of 29 Byron St., North Providence. Organized criminal gambling.
Kevin Kitson, 51, of 673 Putnam Pike, Glocester. Bookmaking conspiracy and bookmaking.
Shaun MacDonald, 30, of 136 Puritan Ave., Cranston. Organized criminal gambling and bookmaking.
Alfred Maiello, 49, of 33 1/2 Marne St., Johnston. Organized criminal gambling and bookmaking.
Walter McClean, 52, of 359 Carpenter St., Providence. Felony shoplifting.
Anthony Palumbo, 65, of 29 Pine Hill Rd., Johnston. Organized criminal gambling and bookmaking.
Michael Romano, 58, of 110 Dean Ave., Smithfield. Criminal solicitation.
Helene Tallo, 50, of 12 Poppy Hill Drive, Johnston. Conspiracy to violate the Uniform Controlled Substance Act and possession of marijuana.
Raymond Vallante, 56, of 11 Traver Ave., Johnston. Organized criminal gambling and bookmaking.