Joseph Barboza

Joseph "The Animal" Barbosa (/bɑːrˈboʊzə/;[1] September 20, 1932 – February 11, 1976) was a Portuguese-American mafioso and notorious mob hitman for the Patriarca crime family during the 1960s.

Joseph Barbosa
BornSeptember 20, 1932
DiedFebruary 11, 1976 (aged 43)
Other namesThe Animal, The Wild Thing, Joseph Donati, The Joe Valachi of New England


Barboza was born to Portuguese emigrants from Lisbon, Portugal, who settled in the old whaling city of New Bedford, Massachusetts. He was born on September 20, 1932, the son of a middle-weight boxer, named Joe Barbosa and a mother who was a seamstress. Joe Barbosa was from Los Angeles, California and fought in only two professional boxing matches, January 27, 1933 his debut professional boxing match was against Pete Frisco and the second match against Carlos Chipres on April 27, 1933.

Joe was fluent in Portuguese, Italian and Spanish. He was married to a Jewish woman. He fathered a daughter in 1965 and also a son and lived in Chelsea, Massachusetts while employed by the Patriarca crime family.

Professional boxing career

Joe himself would pursue a career as a professional light heavyweight boxer and member of the United States Boxing Association for a short period of time, with his first boxing match on April 18, 1949 against Rocky Lucero in El Paso, Texas and his last fight on September 23, 1961 against Don Bale in Boston, Massachusetts. He fought with an orthodox stance. He boxed under the moniker of "The Baron". His boxing record shows Joseph as winning eight out of the eleven matches, with five of them ending in knock outs.[2] He was classified as an out-fighter who was known for having very powerful punches. He was a sparring partner of Patriarca crime family associate, Americo Sacramone, future Massachusetts Auditor Joe DeNucci, Edward G. Connors and Anthony Veranis. He later worked as a longshoreman and as a clerk in a fruit store but always returned to crime.

Escape from prison

He 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.

Entry into organized crime

Barboza may have first been exposed to figures of Boston organized crime while incarcerated at Walpole. Paroled in 1958, he became a recognized figure in East Boston's organized crime circles and was a regular at 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. He was never officially inducted into the Patriarca crime family because of his Portuguese heritage but within eight years during the escalation of gangland warfare he earned a reputation as one of Boston's most prolific contract killers and sidewalk soldiers. He had a reputation of being absolutely fearless.

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, he slugged a Metropolitan District Commission Police Officer, Joe MacLean, 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 SS President Wilson to the Orient.

In his 1975 biography "Barboza" written by true crime writer Hank Messick he admitted to murdering at least seven men, although he bragged to his friends that the total was closer to twenty-nine because he wanted to be respected and feared — nobody really knew the truth. He loved children and animals and was known to take neighborhood children to the park or zoo. He would often buy popcorn for children in the movie theatre that did not have any and his young daughter wanted for nothing. He was an amazing artist and would entertain neighborhood children with his sketches of Disney characters. A few notorious victims on his murder roster while involved with organized crime included Edward McLaughlin and both Cornelius Hughes and Stevie Hughes, who Barboza hunted down in a fit of rage after receiving news that his best friend Vincent Flemmi was badly wounded in a 1967 shootout with them. Barboza aligned himself with the Winter Hill Gang in part because James "Buddy" McLean was an ally of Vincent Flemmi, who Barboza trusted along with his brother Steven Flemmi. As early as 1965, FBI agent H. Paul Rico, was using that trust to drive Barboza into becoming an informant. Joe drove a 1965 Oldsmobile Cutlass which was referred to by law enforcement as "the James Bond car" because it had a sophisticated alarm system and a device for making thick black smoke come out of the tailpipe.

Turning government witness

By 1966, he had a very turbulent position in the Boston underworld. 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 Angiulo 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 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 Angiulo 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 told Barboza his wife and children would not be protected unless he agreed to testify. The government also promised to set him up in his own restaurant—and plastic surgery to change his appearance and further protect Barboza and his family—but it did not fulfill either of these promises.

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 Angiulo 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 corrupt FBI agent John Morris who 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 as "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 Angiulo found out where Barboza was. On February 11, 1976, Barboza left Chalmas' San Francisco apartment; as he was walking to his car, he was hit by four shotgun blasts at close range. He was killed instantly. Although he was armed with a Colt .38, Barboza never had a chance to draw it.

F. Lee Bailey was quoted as having said Barboza's death was "no great loss to society." Barboza's young daughter never recovered from her father's death.

Ilario Zannino, chief enforcer of Gennaro Angiulo, was later overheard on a hidden bug saying that it was J. R. Russo who had assassinated Barboza. In the conversation, Zannino described Russo as "a genius with a carbine".

False testimony against rivals

While working for the FBI, corrupt Agent H. Paul Rico helped to frame 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 had 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.The families of Greco, Tameleo, Salvati and Limone filed lawsuits totaling in excess of one billion dollars filed against the Federal government. In July 2007, U.S. District Judge Nancy Gertner in Boston found the bureau helped convict the four men and the U.S. Government was ordered to pay $100 million in damages to the four defendants.[3]

See also


  1. ^ "Joe Barboza - A 1970 Interview With 'The Animal'"
  2. ^ "Joe Barboza". BoxRec. Retrieved 5 September 2017.
  3. ^ "U.S. Must Pay Out $100 Million for Wrongful FBI Conviction". Reuters. 2007-07-27. Archived from the original on 2008-07-05. Retrieved 2007-11-22.

Further reading

  • Sherman, Casey: Animal: The Bloody Rise and Fall of the Mob's Most Feared Assassin. Northeastern University Press, Boston 2013. ISBN 978-1-55553-822-4 (print); ISBN 978-1-55553-821-7 (eBook)

External links

1976 in organized crime

See also:

1975 in organized crime,

other events of 1976,

1977 in organized crime and the

list of 'years in Organized Crime'.

Blackfriars massacre

The 1978 Blackfriars massacre, also known as the Blackfriars murders was an Irish Mob and/or Italian-American Mafia massacre that occurred on June 28, 1978, in Downtown Boston, Massachusetts. Four criminals known to the police and a former Channel 7 (now WHDH-TV) Boston television investigative news anchorman and reporter, Jack Kelly were killed, allegedly over the sale of cocaine.

Edward F. Harrington

Edward Francis Harrington (born September 16, 1933) is a Senior United States District Judge of the United States District Court for the District of Massachusetts.

Edward McLaughlin

Edward "Punchy" McLaughlin (died October 20, 1965) was a former boxer and a member of "The McLaughlin Brothers" gang of Charlestown, Massachusetts. Vincent Teresa, former mobster described Edward in his biography "My Life in the Mafia" as, "Punchy was just as crazy as George... a legbreaker for the longshoreman's union. Punchy was a cuckoo and as hotheaded as they came. After his brother Bernard McLaughlin was murdered in October 1961 by their former friend, "Winter Hill Gang" leader James "Buddy" McLean (Punchy and his brothers had been known to perform hits for gangs all over New England, including the Winter Hill Gang), Punchy and brother George McLaughlin murdered Russell Nicholson who was rumored to be McLean's driver in the shooting. After surviving many assassination attempts, one where he lost a hand and another where he lost half his jaw, Punchy was on his way to Boston's Suffolk Superior Courthouse for his brother Georgie's murder trial, and was shot dead at the Spring Street Metropolitan Transit Authority Loop in West Roxbury, Massachusetts.

Enrico Tameleo

Enrico "Henry" Tameleo (died 1985), also known as "The Referee", was an Italian-American mobster from Boston, Massachusetts and underboss in the New England-based Patriarca crime family and was also a member of the New York-based Bonanno crime family of La Cosa Nostra from 1952 to 1968.

Federal Bureau of Investigation

The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) is the domestic intelligence and security service of the United States, and its principal federal law enforcement agency. Operating under the jurisdiction of the United States Department of Justice, the FBI is also a member of the U.S. Intelligence Community and reports to both the Attorney General and the Director of National Intelligence. A leading U.S. counter-terrorism, counterintelligence, and criminal investigative organization, the FBI has jurisdiction over violations of more than 200 categories of federal crimes.Although many of the FBI's functions are unique, its activities in support of national security are comparable to those of the British MI5 and the Russian FSB. Unlike the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), which has no law enforcement authority and is focused on intelligence collection abroad, the FBI is primarily a domestic agency, maintaining 56 field offices in major cities throughout the United States, and more than 400 resident agencies in smaller cities and areas across the nation. At an FBI field office, a senior-level FBI officer concurrently serves as the representative of the Director of National Intelligence.Despite its domestic focus, the FBI also maintains a significant international footprint, operating 60 Legal Attache (LEGAT) offices and 15 sub-offices in U.S. embassies and consulates across the globe. These foreign offices exist primarily for the purpose of coordination with foreign security services and do not usually conduct unilateral operations in the host countries. The FBI can and does at times carry out secret activities overseas, just as the CIA has a limited domestic function; these activities generally require coordination across government agencies.

The FBI was established in 1908 as the Bureau of Investigation, the BOI or BI for short. Its name was changed to the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) in 1935. The FBI headquarters is the J. Edgar Hoover Building, located in Washington, D.C.

Folsom State Prison

Folsom State Prison (FSP) is a California State Prison in Folsom, California, U.S., approximately 20 mi (30 km) northeast of the state capital of Sacramento. It is one of 35 adult institutions operated by the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation.

Opened in 1880, Folsom is the state's second-oldest prison, after San Quentin, and the first in the United States to have electricity. Folsom was also one of the first maximum security prisons, and has been the execution location of 93 condemned prisoners.Folsom is probably best known in popular culture for concerts performed at the facility by musician Johnny Cash, particularly in 1968, when the two shows of January 13 were made into a live album. He had written and recorded the song "Folsom Prison Blues" over a decade earlier.

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Hank Messick

Henry "Hank" Hicks Messick (August 14, 1922 - November 6, 1999) was an American investigative journalist and author, specializing in writing about organized crime. He was best known for his biography of Meyer Lansky.

Messick was born in Happy Valley, North Carolina. He received a master's degree from the University of Iowa. He started his journalism career working at several newspapers in North Carolina. From 1957 to 1963 he worked at the Louisville Courier-Journal where he reported on the extensive illegal gambling activities in Newport, Kentucky. From 1963 to 1966 he worked at the Miami Herald, where he investigated police corruption. He briefly worked for the Boston Traveler in 1967, but was fired after investigating the business activities of Joseph Linsey, one of the newspapers shareholders and a former associate of mobster Charles "King" Solomon. He then worked full-time as an author, writing 19 books. He mostly wrote about organized crime in places outside New York City and Chicago, such as Kentucky, Florida, Bahamas, Cleveland and Hollywood.

James Lanza

James "Jimmy the Hat" Lanza (October 23, 1902 – February 14, 2006) was a Sicilian-American mobster and boss of the San Francisco crime family. He was the son of the first known boss of the San Francisco crime family and took over in 1961. It is now probably extinct. He was first noticed when Life magazine published his photo in the late 1960s, identifying him as boss of the San Francisco crime family.

Joe Salvati

Joe Salvati, wrongfully convicted of a mob-related murder, was ultimately cleared by evidence found by Boston journalist Dan Rea. Sentenced to life in May 1968, he was released in 1997. As a result, the House Committee on Government Reform investigated whether or not the Government withheld evidence.In 1965, Edward "Teddy" Deegan was murdered in an alley in Chelsea, Massachusetts. In 2007, Judge Nancy Gertner awarded $102 million to those whose convictions were overturned, stating FBI agents were trying to protect their informants, including "one of the true killers, Vincent "Jimmy the Bear" Flemmi, who was an FBI informant." Joe "The Animal" Barboza's testimony was crucial in convicting Mr. Salvati. At the time, it was the "single largest sum ever awarded from the federal government under the Federal Tort Claims Act."

Robert F. Carrozza

Robert F. Carrozza also known as "Bobby Russo", (born January 9, 1940 East Boston, Massachusetts) is an Italian-American mobster from East Boston, Massachusetts who led a bloody internal rebellion against the leadership of the Providence-based Patriarca crime family.

Rocco DiSiglio

Rocco DiSiglio, also known as Rocky DiSiglio (born April 11, 1939 Newton, Massachusetts - April 3, 1966 East Boston, Massachusetts) was an American professional welterweight boxer and associate of the Patriarca crime family who was involved in armed robbery and illegal gambling.

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Thacher Island

Thacher Island is a small island off Cape Ann on the Massachusetts coast in the United States. It is a part of the Town of Rockport. It was a place where some naval confrontations, both minor and major, took place, which helped secure a victory for the colonists.

Tom Sullivan (boxer)

Thomas Sullivan, also known as "Tommy" and "Irish Tommy" (January 1, 1922 South Boston, Massachusetts-December 23, 1957 South Boston) was an American professional light heavyweight boxer who was murdered by the Charlestown Mob and Patriarca crime family.

Vincent Flemmi

Vincent James Flemmi (1935–1979), also known as "Jimmy The Bear," was an Italian-American mobster who freelanced for the Winter Hill Gang and the Patriarca crime family. He was also a longtime informant for the Federal Bureau of Investigation. He was also the brother of government informant Stephen Flemmi.

Vincent Teresa

Vincent "Fat Vinnie" Teresa (1930–1990) was an American mobster in the Boston branch of the Patriarca crime family who was a lieutenant of boss Raymond Patriarca.

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