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InCity Times Worcester Mafia story #3 By Steve Maher: Francis J. McGrath versus the Worcester Mafia

Tuesday, June 28th, 2011

Francis J. McGrath versus the Worcester Mafia

By Steven Maher

It was the type of press Worcester Mafia boss Frank Iaconi abhorred.

Iaconi’s picture appeared on page one of the November 5, 1946 Worcester Telegram under a headline, “Three sued for $57,300 as a Result of Horse Bet Losses”. There was also a photograph of Ward 3 councilman Philip F. Sullivan.

Jules Vohlgemuth was a Belgian immigrant who had saved $19,000 from stock market investments and his wages as a diesinker. George Trudell had gotten Vohlgemuth to lend him the money under false pretenses, and then lost it betting on horses in an Iaconi Franklin Street gambling den. Vohlgemuth sued Iaconi, Sullivan, and Irving Zabarsky under a state law that allowed for the recovery of triple damages for gambling losses.

“In those days, Worcester’s government was mired in bickering, inefficiency, political shenanigans, corruption, graft, and all the ailments of a weak, deteriorating system,” retired Worcester Telegram Publisher Robert C. Achorn wrote fifty years later. “In that atmosphere, the mob – the underworld – was able to do business comfortably in Worcester, as it did in Providence, Boston, Springfield and most other big towns. For years, it had clout at City Hall. Illegal gambling parlors, specializing in horse betting, flourished on Green, Franklin and Front Streets and other locations. When there were complaints, the police couldn’t find the joints, even though the customers could. And it was not just betting parlors. To do business in Worcester, bookies, loan sharks, strong-arm enforcers, drug peddlers and on-the-edge operators of every kind needed clearance from the mob. Free-lancing was not encouraged.” Click to continue »

Worcester Mafia – Story #2 By Steve Maher: From Frank Iaconi to Carlo Mastrototaro, organized gambling was the mainstay of the Worcester Mafia

Monday, June 27th, 2011

The Worcester Mafia and Gambling
By Steven R. Maher

From Frank Iaconi to Carlo Mastrototaro, organized gambling was the mainstay of the Worcester Mafia

The January 1950 marriage of Worcester Mafia boss Frank Iaconi’s daughter was spectacular, a scene right out of the Godfather. “The wedding took place in true millionaire fashion in Miami,” the Providence Journal reported. “The reception that followed at the Roney-Plaza Hotel, one of the city’s finest, even made a few not easily excited Miamians stare.”
Among those present at the extravaganza was Massachusetts Lieutenant Governor Charles F. “Jeff” Sullivan, the Mayor of Worcester from 1946-1950. Until Jeff Murray in 2006, Sullivan was the last Worcester resident to be elected to state wide office.

Sullivan’s friends begged reporters not to mention that Worcester’s most prominent politician was attending the nuptials of the daughter of Worcester’s most prominent Mafioso. “He [Sullivan] just slipped down here for a little vacation, and it might prove embarrassing,” one pleaded.

Also present was Worcester Police Lieutenant William V. Massei. In 1940 Massei was appointed head of the vice squad, charged with the suppression of gambling in Worcester. Iaconi – described in Senate testimony as “the head of the gambling rackets in Worcester Massachusetts” – had no problems from Massei, who told the media, “There is no gambling or lottery in Worcester.” Iaconi, the man who headed the Worcester gambling rackets and Massei, the cop in charge of suppressing the Worcester gambling rackets, even owned summer homes in Westerly, Rhode Island “..within shouting distance of one another…”

Besides Lieutenant Governor Sullivan, there was another, unrelated Sullivan present: former Ward 3 councilman Philip F. Sullivan, who in 1946 was sued along with Iaconi for $57,300 by a die maker, who claimed he had been swindled out of his life savings in an Iaconi gambling den. Click to continue »