||New Jersey| Ruggiero Boiardo
Birth: December 8, 1890 - Naples, Italy
Death: October 29, 1984 - New Jersey
Ruggiero "Richie The Boot" Boiardo was a longtime capo in the Genovese Family and controlled mafia activities in Newark, New Jersey.
Boss of the First Ward
Ruggiero Boiardo was born in Naples in 1890. Around 1901 his family left their native country and moved to America where they settled in Chicago for a while. At age 19 he moved to New Jersey where he took a job as a milkman, but later tried a new career as a bookmaker. Boiardo was a skilled businessman and already earned thousands of dollars in his early twenties. Fond of expensive things, he had a diamond belt buckle worth up to $5.000, leading to his nickname "Diamond Boiardo". With his handling in illegal gambling and bookmaking, he soon became the top gangster of the First Ward, the heart of Newarks Little Italy.
When Prohibition entered the country in 1920 Boiardo and his gang soon took part and smuggled liquor throughout the city. This however made him cross paths with one of Jersey's most powerful criminals, Abner Zwillman. Both gangs often got into fights and frequently hijacked eachothers trucks. The New York Mafia however, keeping things under control, wanted them to make peace. But Zwillman wasn't the only enemy Boiardo had to deal with as gangster Willie Moretti also went for the attack. In November 1930 John Paselli, a Boiardo lieutenant, was shot and killed in a hospital. A couple of days later also Boiardo was ambushed and shot, but he survived. But because he was wearing a gun at the time police got there he was however sentenced to 16 months for carrying a concealed weapon.
The Livingston Baron
After the Castellammarese War had ended in New York and the 5 families were formed, the Luciano family vouched for Boiardo to get him in their organisation. This kept him safe from further violence. But because he was not a Sicilian, it would take a couple of years for him to become a made member and eventually a captain.
Throughout the years Boiardo maintained a stable tenure as Newark gangleader and received money from all sorts of enterprises. He owned a demolition firm and also owned the Vittorino Castle, an Italian restaurant frequented by NY Yankees star Joe DiMaggio. He also had stakes in hotels and casino's in Miami, Las Vegas and Havana. With his money he bought a 17 acre property in Livingston where he build himself a large Transylvanian-like castle. The property was soon the talk of the town. The large iron gate in front was guarded by armed men and next to the entrance stood a couple of colorful statues which represented himself, his kids and grandkids. In his old days he most of all liked to work in his garden. He even had a sign hanging on the entrance saying "Godfathers Garden".
In 1963 the FBI overheard gangsters Anthony Russo and Gyp DeCarlo talking about how Boiardo burned dead bodies of enemies in a furnace in his backyard. Some even said that the New York families would deliver bodies for Boiardo to burn in his private crematorium. Probably the stories were part of ganglore, but it did cause many to fear for their lives when hearing they were summoned to Boiardo's mansion.
After the tapes were leaked to the press a couple of journalists of LIFE magazine went to take pictures of the mansion and published an article about Boiardo in a September 1967 issue. Now thousands of readers knew who he was. It caused the police to act. At age 80 Boiardo was arrested on a gambling charge and was sentenced to 1 year. In 1979 he was again arrested, but was acquitted because of his failing health. He eventually died as a free man at the ripe old age of 94, outliving all of his past enemies.
(Source: Ellis Island Passenger Records, "LIFE magazine" September 1, 1967; "NEWARK GANGSTER SHOT FROM AMBUSH" NYtimes 27 November, 1930; paperlessarchives.com)
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