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Reputed mob associate who fled Mass. goes on trial

Reported Mobster Enrico Ponzo Goes on Trial

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BOSTON (AP) - With his East Coast accent and tales of living in New York, Jay Shaw stood out when he moved to the tiny farm town of Marsing, Idaho.

But he was friendly enough, even helpful, to his neighbors, and they never suspected him of having a dark secret.

After about a decade of living the quiet life of a would-be cattle rancher, his past closed in on him one day in 2011 as he was negotiating a purchase of hay near his 12-acre ranch. Massachusetts authorities had caught up with him, more than 16 years after he disappeared.

His real name was Enrico Ponzo, and he was wanted on numerous federal charges in a racketeering indictment, including the 1989 attempted murder of Francis "Cadillac Frank" Salemme, who went on to become the boss of the Patriarca crime family.

As his trial got underway in Boston last week, his former neighbors in Idaho watched the news coverage closely, some still stunned that the novice rancher they knew was accused of being mixed up with mobsters in Boston.

"It was almost unbelievable," said farmer Bob Briggs, who was talking about hay with Ponzo when he was arrested. "People couldn't understand why and what for and how come."

In Idaho, where he had lived for a little over a decade, Ponzo owned a handful of cows and spent a lot of time with his two young children.

"He told me he was from New York and that he had been in the Army," said Briggs, who farmed land across from where Ponzo lived and got to know him.

In August 2010, Ponzo's longtime girlfriend, Cara Pace, left with their kids and moved to another state.

"It almost killed him," Briggs said. "He took care of them, he fed them, he did everything for them. He was just devastated when she took the kids."

Six months later, Ponzo was arrested.

"It was almost unbelievable," Briggs said. "I sure had him pegged wrong."

Prosecutors said Ponzo was a mob associate who teamed up with a faction of mobsters that wanted to stop Salemme from becoming the boss.

In a 1997 indictment, Ponzo and Vincent Marino are named as the triggermen who shot at Salemme as he walked into an IHOP in Saugus, north of Boston. Ponzo was among 15 people indicted by a grand jury investigating organized crime.

Charges against Ponzo include conspiracy to murder, conspiracy to distribute cocaine and firearms counts. He faces a sentence of up to life in prison if convicted.

In opening statements to the jury, Assistant U.S. Attorney Karen Beausey said Ponzo, now 45, was an associate in the Patriarca family, the New England branch of the Mafia. During the late '80s and early '90s, she said, Ponzo and his co-conspirators participated in extortions, assaults and attempted murders while rival factions were vying for control of the crime group.

"He was part of the group who was trying to seize control," she said.

Beausey said Ponzo "re-invented himself" while he was on the run, first as a large-scale marijuana distributor in Arizona, then as a cattle rancher in Idaho. She said Ponzo used the money he made illegally in Arizona to re-establish himself and his girlfriend in Idaho.

"They bought land there, they bought a house. They started to raise a family there," she said.

Ponzo's lawyer, John Cunha Jr., told jurors that Ponzo was not a made member or an associate of the Mafia. He also challenged the credibility of the government's witnesses, including mob figures who cut deals with prosecutors for reduced sentences.

"As you listen to these people, keep in mind the powerful tool that the government has to elicit testimony that it wants," Cunha said.

Ponzo believed he was on a hit list created by a mobster whose son was shot to death while changing a flat tire, Ponzo's lawyer said.

"So what did Mr. Ponzo do?" Cunha asked. "He left. He wasn't going to get killed."

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jbomb2557 October 14 2013 at 4:41 PM

...Hell hath no fury as a woman scorned. I wonder how much the Gov't paid her?

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mikerorike October 14 2013 at 4:36 PM

The law is slow but sure. It is amazing he was "gone" for 10 years and then his girlfriend left and he suddenly was found. No mystery there. The thing is, he was basically getting out of the business and staying out of it for his families sake and all for nothing. I guess the life in Idaho was not for her. I wonder where she is now and if she feels good about screwing up a seemingly good thing. Feel sorry for the kids.

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2 replies
hly3wd mikerorike October 14 2013 at 4:47 PM

ever think maybe officials contacted her, questioned her, and let her know who her husband really is? Charges against Ponzo include conspiracy to murder, conspiracy to distribute cocaine and firearms counts. He faces a sentence of up to life in prison if convicted.-- that is the real reason he fled, not bc he wanted to start a new life, he had no choice.

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1 reply
kingofswords72 hly3wd October 14 2013 at 5:18 PM

Mobsters can always fight Federal charges, what they can't fight is a hit put out on them. Evading Federal charges was just an added reason to flee. They say you can't run from the long arm of the law but it's even harder to run from the mob. He'll stand a better chance in prison now that all his former mob adversaries are dead.

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dugandob mikerorike October 14 2013 at 4:52 PM

I hope she hides. Maybe she's in the Witness Protection Program.

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wasabimon October 14 2013 at 10:55 PM

why cant they get the bankers this easily ?

Flag Reply +7 rate up
swifterman October 14 2013 at 10:54 PM

. . .
America is a lawless country !
The fact, that the government "dals" with criminals - so they accuse other criminals - shows that the government is where the top criminals are located !
That is how it looks from a German point of view !

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3 replies
dccb3 October 15 2013 at 2:24 AM

it was the girlfriend who turned him in. it usually is.

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2 replies
johndlevan9 dccb3 October 15 2013 at 3:17 AM

I thought so without knowing so. Her name, Cara Pace, is a hard shell on something like a tortoise. She left him; took his kids; turned him in... But who knows?

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genec101 dccb3 October 15 2013 at 8:14 AM

she flipped on him.....lesson for all...if you have questionable past and are trying to go legit...if the skirt leaves, so should you...

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Velocity105 October 14 2013 at 10:28 PM

I don't know why but I always root for the guy the authorities are chasing. It's the Bourne Identity Syndrome I guess, no matter who you are or what you've done, I want you to succeed and make the FBI look like fools.

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GOD DAMN OLD MAN October 14 2013 at 10:22 PM

Ok, what is with the handsome cowboy and then they show a man straight from Godfather?? I hate AOL, now I get access my mail, they must have screwed somehow

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3 replies
Larry October 14 2013 at 4:47 PM

He failed at his attempt to kill another mobster. Strike one. Plus it shows how IHOP could be dangerous to your health!
He moved to Idaho, where land is relatively cheap and bought only 12 acres; not enough for any reasonable person to believe he could be self-sufficient. Strike two.
He moved with his girlfriend who knew his past; she left and squealed. Strike Three.
The guy could be a good guy, but three dumb things usually don't go well in the mobster world.

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2 replies
jmsplunge Larry October 14 2013 at 5:00 PM

Never should have let her go.12 acres good luck finding the body. The pigs would have only left the bones and acid would have taken care of the rest...just saying

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StylzByLois Larry October 14 2013 at 5:25 PM

I think there's a book somewhere in this one...

Flag Reply 0 rate up
tomatescaliente October 14 2013 at 4:48 PM

Who writes these articles? It reads like a copy of the press release from the police. No investigating here. How or why would someone reinvent themselves as a pot dealer to stay hidden from the law? Doesn't make sense. The girlfriend went back to Boston and talked too much.

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1 reply
StylzByLois tomatescaliente October 14 2013 at 5:25 PM

AMEN! It's embarrassing, isn't it????

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Freddy De Joint October 14 2013 at 10:15 PM

Another Rat in the coming

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