He has been tried and convicted, and just over a week ago he was sentenced to seven to nine years in state prison for plotting to rob a drug dealer’s home of drugs and cash.
And Mark Rossetti’s troubles are far from over, as federal officials, including US Representative Stephen Lynch, continue to examine the 52-year-old New England Mafia capo’s criminal history and his questionable relationship with the FBI.
“There’s still more work to be done,” said Lynch, who initiated a probe of Rossetti’s secret relationship with the FBI after it was exposed last year that the gangster, suspected by State Police of participating in murders, was all along working as an informant. Rossetti was later charged by state authorities with running his own criminal enterprise.
“In my estimation, at least what we’ve seen so far, what Rossetti was doing should have triggered a [halt] in his status as a confidential informant,” Lynch said. “He should have been brought in, should have been found to be unsuitable, and that’s it.”
Rossetti was convicted July 26 of breaking and entering for plotting to rob a Roslindale drug dealer of heroin and thousands of dollars in cash. Prosecutors say they expect to charge him with conspiracy to commit the crime as well, which could lengthen his sentence.
He also faces more serious state charges of usury, or loan sharking, as well as extortion, conspiracy to commit extortion, and distribution of heroin — cases that could not only lengthen his prison stay, but further unearth what Rossetti was doing when he was secretly working as an informant, Lynch said. Lawyers and prosecutors are slated to meet over the next month, beginning Tuesday, to discuss trial dates.
Nearly a decade ago, Lynch took part in the Congressional hearings that examined the FBI’s corrupt relationship with James “Whitey” Bulger and Stephen “The Rifleman” Flemmi, and led to reforms in the agency’s guidelines for working with informants.
Lynch said in a recent interview that he and other congressional leaders have met several times privately with FBI officials, and that the agency’s internal probe is ongoing. He said agents have yet to talk to certain witnesses, and evidence in the state charges that has been sealed so far could aid in the investigation.
Lynch said he has not made a determination as to the appropriateness of the relationship because the FBI’s internal review has not been completed, but early indications show the relationship was questionable.
The congressman said that the FBI already has acknowledged that it failed in communicating with State Police, who were investigating Rossetti, and that the upcoming trials could further detail not only what Rossetti was doing, but what the FBI knew of it.
“He was in the program, and there were some state charges that should have raised major flags with the FBI, and they’ve missed that,” Lynch said.
“There’s a whole litany of the guidelines, from A to Z, that we’re looking at,” he said.
Rossetti, of East Boston, had been one of the well-known leaders in the New England Mafia, the regional family of La Cosa Nostra, before his arrest two years ago. He has served lengthy prison terms for violent crimes, including an armored car heist three decades ago, in which he pointed a rifle at the driver. More recently, State Police said he ran a criminal enterprise known as the Rossetti Organization that that was empowered by his membership in La Cosa Nostra. More than 30 people allegedly in that organization were arrested on drug dealing, loan sharking, gambling, and other charges.
Rossetti is accused of handing out loans with interest rates at more than 20 percent, more than allowed by state law, in addition to the breaking-and-entering case. He was also accused of sending out his top enforcer, convicted gangster Darin Bufalino, to collect his loans and protection payments. Bufalino was sentenced separately earlier this year to seven years in prison for conspiracy and attempted extortion, and also to seven years in prison in Essex County for an unrelated robbery of a landscaper at gunpoint.
Dean Mazzone, a prosecutor from Attorney General Martha Coakley’s office, said at Rossetti’s sentencing on the breaking-and entering-case recently that the gangster’s history of crime was well known, calling it “prolific.”
“This defendant has shown himself to be someone who will put lives at risk for his own good . . . for his own selfishness,” Mazzone said. “He commits crime regularly. . . . He’s the definition of a career criminal.”