Raymond Loreda Salvatore Patriarca, Sr. (March 18, 1908 – July 11, 1984) was an Italian-American mobster from Providence, Rhode Island who became the longtime boss of the Patriarca crime family, whose control extended throughout New England for over three decades. He was one of the most powerful crime bosses in the United States, and often mediated disputes between Cosa Nostra families outside the region. He was the father of Raymond Patriarca, Jr.
Patriarca was born to an Italian immigrant father in Worcester, Massachusetts; his mother was born in Massachusetts, according to the 1930 census. He was charged during his teenage years for hijacking, armed robbery, assault, safecracking, and auto theft. He was indicted as being an accessory to murder before Prohibition's end in 1933.
During the 1930s, the Providence Board of Public Safety named Patriarca as "Public enemy No. 1". He was sentenced to five years in prison for robbery, but he was paroled in 1938 after serving just a few months in prison. An inquiry revealed that Executive Councilor Daniel Coakley, a close associate of Governor Charles F. Hurley, had drawn up a parole petition based on the appeals of a "Father Fagin", whom Coakley had fabricated. Coakley was impeached and dismissed from the Governor's office. This scandal enhanced Patriarca's reputation in the underworld, as it demonstrated the power of his political connections.
During the 1940s, Patriarca continued to rise in power. In 1950, family mobster Philip Bruccola fled the country to avoid prosecution for tax evasion. Patriarca took control of Bruccola's criminal operations.
In 1956, Raymond Patriarca made drastic changes in the family, the biggest being to move his base of operations to Providence, Rhode Island. He ran his family from the National Cigarette Service Company and Coin-O-Matic Distributors, a vending machine and pinball business on Atwells Avenue in the Federal Hill neighborhood of Providence. Every card game, prostitution ring or any illegal business in Providence had to pay a kickback to Patriarca.
Patriarca's reign as leader of the New England syndicate was reportedly brutal and ruthless. In one incident, Patriarca allegedly ordered an elderly mafioso to murder his own son, after Patriarca lost a substantial amount of money on a bad deal. When the father pleaded for his son's life, Patriarca exiled him from the family. (Underboss Henry Tameleo later persuaded Patriarca to relent.)
In another incident, Patriarca demanded that several members of the crime family pay him $22,000, after federal authorities seized a hijacked shipment of cigarettes that he had financed. Patriarca allegedly ordered the murder of his brother for failing to notice an electronic surveillance device placed in his office by federal agents.
During the Irish Mob Wars between the Charlestown Mob and the Winter Hill Gang, Patriacra allegedly ordered the murder of several members of the McLaughlin Gang. This occurred when Bernard McLaughlin started interfering with Patriarca's loansharking operations in Boston.
In March 1970, Patriarca and several Patriarca family associates went on trial for murder and conspiracy to commit murder, the chief witness being robber and hitman John "Red" Kelley, who afterwards went into the federal witness protection program. Kelley gave testimony linking Patriarca and other family members to the murder of Rudolph "Rudy" Marfeo and Anthony Melei. Kelley had been contracted by Patriarca to kill Marfeo.
Patriarca and his associates were convicted of conspiracy to commit murder; associate Maurice "Pro" Lerner also was convicted of murder. The mob boss was sentenced to 10 years in prison, but he continued to run his family while imprisoned. Lerner and the other defendants were subsequently exonerated when it was established that Kelley had perjured himself at the trial, as had F.B.I. agent H. Paul Rico of the F.B.I.'s Boston office, who had corroborated Kelley's testimony.
On July 11, 1984, around 11:30 AM, the North Providence, Rhode Island Fire Department Rescue Squad received an emergency call from a Douglas Avenue address. It was later revealed that this was the home of Patriarca's girlfriend. His first wife died in 1965. He then married a former nightclub hostess and was living with her in Johnston, Rhode Island at the time of his death. When emergency workers arrived, they found Patriarca to be in full cardiac arrest. Rushed to Rhode Island Hospital, doctors tried to revive Patriarca with electrical defibrillation and the implanting of a cardiac pacemaker. At 1:00 PM, Patriarca was pronounced dead of a massive heart attack at the age of 76. Patriarca is buried in Gate of Heaven Cemetery, East Providence, Rhode Island.
A Boston Globe article stated, "In a business where violent death is often inevitable, Patriarca died relatively peacefully, unable to outwit failing health caused by a heart condition and diabetes that led to amputation of a gangrenous toe." At the time of his death, Patriarca was under indictment for two murders. Patriarca was succeeded by his son Raymond Patriarca, Jr.