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Former fugitive and New England mobster Enrico Ponzo indicted on racketeering, drug charges

A notorious New England mobster was indicted Thursday on 18 counts of racketeering, drug trafficking, witness tampering, and other charges, said a spokeswoman for the US ­attorney’s office.

Enrico Ponzo, 44, of Boston was one of 15 men named in a 40-count federal indictment in 1997 that was aimed at breaking up a brutal and bloody power struggle in the Patriarca family of La Cosa Nostra.

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One faction of the Patriarca family, which Ponzo allegedly belonged to, sought to prevent Francis P. “Cadillac Frank” ­Salemme from being named boss. On June, 16, 1989, family underboss William P. Grasso was found shot dead along the Connecticut River. Hours later, Salemme was shot in the chest and leg outside a Saugus pancake house.

According to authorities, Ponzo and Vincent Michael ­Marino were the alleged triggermen in the attempted killing of Salemme. The indictment ­also accused the faction of killing three men, attempting to kill six others besides Salemme, and plotting to kill seven more.

Ponzo, who had been living as a fugitive under the alias ­Jeffrey John Shaw for more than 16 years, was apprehended in the small town of ­Marsing, Idaho, in February 2011.

Since 2011, a federal grand jury has added new counts and racketeering acts, including using extortionate means to collect or attempt to collect extensions of credit, unlawful flight to avoid prosecution, conspiracy to distribute and possess with intent to distribute marijuana, money laundering, witness tampering, and forfeiture allegations, said Christina DiIorio-­Sterling, a spokes­woman for the office of US ­Attorney Carmen M. Ortiz.

Ponzo, who is in prison at an undisclosed location, will be ­arraigned Feb. 4 in US District Court in Boston. If convicted, he could face up to life in prison, DiIorio-Sterling said.

Haven Orecchio-Egresitz can
be reached at haven.egresitz@
globe.com
.
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