RI mob associate, given new identity, relives life of crime in Mafia trial
BOSTON, Mass. (WPRI) – Thomas Hillary said the Patriarcas took him in and treated him “like family,” but he could never be a made member of La Cosa Nostra.
“I wasn’t Italian,” he said during testimony Thursday in the trial of former mob boss Francis “Cadillac Frank” Salemme and codefendant Paul Weadick.
Hillary, 73, now has a new identity after being entered into the Federal Witness Protection Program in 1994.
Growing up in Providence, Hillary met Raymond “Junior” Patriarca when he was 12 years old, and knew exactly who his dad was. Raymond L.S. Patriarca ran the New England mob from the 1950s until his death in 1984.
“I knew him to be the boss,” Hillary said.
Despite his heritage, Hillary’s star rose in the New England crime family because of his close relationship with the Patriarcas. Rhode Island gangster Robert “Bobby” DeLuca – who would later be inducted into the crime family and become a capo – was Hillary’s best man at his wedding in 1976. As an associate of the crime family, Hillary was heavily involved in criminal activity.
“If you had union problems we’d straighten it out,” Hillary said. “We did hijackings, shakedowns – it was like out of the movies.”
In 1984, after Patriarca died of a heart attack and his son took over as boss, Hillary was given an important assignment: take care of Salemme.
Hillary said Junior Patriarca “asked us to take care of him – he just got out the can” after 16 years behind bars, and needed help making money.
Hillary was happy to oblige, and it turned into high times for the crew, making a lot of money and growing in underworld influence, he said.
Hillary described how they would sell fake marijuana to buyers. When asked what would happen when the buyer found out the pot was