By Robert E. Macdonald
Mayor of Lewiston
The summer is drawing to a close. Soon the kids will be going back to school.
The saddest day of the year—Labor Day—will soon be upon us, reminding us that summer has come to an end. Like most people, I say let’s give politics a rest.
During the past Lewiston runoff election, I was amazed at the number of people in Lewiston who listened daily to the Howie Carr Show. While shaking hands at the polls, many people approached me telling me that they had heard me on the show earlier that day. One of the most popular subjects, besides politics, discussed on the show is gangsters. So . . .
“Ever since I can remember, I always wanted to be a gangster.” These were the words of Henry Hill (played by Ray Liotta) in the opening line of the movie “Good Fellas.”
Coming from a poor, working-class Irish-Italian neighborhood, Henry dreamed of living the fast life. Nice clothes, expensive cars and jewelry. Vacations, a great social life, including fancy restaurants and nightclubs. A “somebody amongst a bunch of nobodies.”
But, best of all, to achieve success required no traditional heavy lifting like those working in 9-to-5 jobs. Only suckers did that.
As I write this column, it has just been announced that the Feds arrested the former head of the New England Patriarca crime family, Frank “Cadillac Frank” Salemme for the murder of a witness back in 1993. You might remember Salemme.
After becoming the Boss, the southern faction of the Patriarca Mob tried to assassinate him one morning years ago at the IHOP in Saugus, Mass. The past has caught up to him, and now Salemme may spend the rest of his life in prison for not disclosing a murder he had witnessed.
When it was made public that James “Whitey” Bulger and his associate Stephen “The Rifleman” Flemmi had turned “rat,” bringing down the New England Italian Mob, Salemme turned “rat.” He helped bring Bulger, Flemmi and their crooked FBI handler, John “Zip” Connolly, to justice. But a small, technical problem developed.
When you enter into the federal witness protection program, you are asked about all previous crimes you have committed or witnessed. Your truthfulness will get you absolution and a reduced sentence. You will also be placed on a witness list to testify against your friends in any upcoming trials.
Salemme had witnessed his son commit a murder, but failed to disclose it. Now he is in jail awaiting trial. His son, by the way, has been dead for several years.
Organized crime in America is a big problem. It costs taxpayers millions of dollars. It makes the players rich through crimes such as drug trafficking, inside stock trading, money laundering, bribery and smuggling. But I digress. Let’s get back to the mob and suspend talking about politicians.
When it comes to organized crime, how can you differentiate between politicians and mobsters? It’s easy. Mobsters have colorful nicknames, such as “The Executioner,” “The Basin Street Butcher” and “The Animal.”
Politicians sport monikers such as Senator, Representative, Governor, Mayor and Councilor. All put fear into the average person.
But politicians do have an advantage when caught and found guilty. They go to a country club that serves as a jail—after all, they might end up getting reelected to a higher office. Mobsters go to prison.
One of the obstacles faced by today’s law enforcement is name identification of the mob players. When they are born into this world, they are viewed as another angel ready to serve in God’s army. Their first names seem to reflect this, as many bear the name of (Saint) Peter and (Saint) Paul. The excessive use of these two names present a problem for investigators and prosecutors.
But thankfully the culture of organized crime dictates you must have a moniker—a street name. This proved helpful last week when the Feds rounded up dozens of connected guys on indictments. Let’s close with some of the street names of those arrested. With a little imagination you too could heighten your status as a tough guy (or girl) in our society.
Do any of these catch your eye? Mustache Pat, Stymie, Mike Polio, Tony the Wig, not to be confused with Tony the Cripple, Tugboat, Nickie the Wig, Harpo, Sam Shark and Rooster.
Until next week, this is Bobby “The Mayor” Macdonald signing off.