By Shelley Murphy, Globe Staff
Former New England Mafia capo regime Donato "Danny" Angiulo, who was part of a powerful mob family that ruled Boston's underworld from the 1960s through the mid-1980s, died Sunday night at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center after a long illness. He was 86.
His brother, Gennaro "Jerry'' Angiulo, was the underboss of the Patriarca crime family until an FBI bug planted in his North End headquarters in 1981 captured conversations about murder, extortion, illegal gambling, and loansharking that led to Boston's first sensational Mafia trial and the end of the Angiulos' reign.
In 1986, a federal jury convicted Donato Angiulo and his brothers, Gennaro and Francesco, who was the mob's accountant, of racketeering charges, and a third brother, Michele, of illegal gambling.
An Angiulo associate was caught on FBI tapes boasting that South Boston crime boss James "Whitey" Bulger and his sidekick, Stephen "The Rifleman" Flemmi were friends of the Mafia and would kill for them. More than a decade later it was revealed that Bulger and Flemmi were longtime FBI informants who had provided information about the interior of Angiulo's headquarters that assisted agents in planting the bug.
Donato Angiulo's nickname was "Smiley," but prosecutors alleged during his trial that he had a fierce reputation on the street and served as a capo regime, running a crew of Mafia soldiers. He was sentenced to 20 years in prison for racketeering, gambling and loansharking. He was freed from federal prison in 1997, after serving 11 years, and returned to his Medford home.
"He was a great family man and a very decent guy,'' said Boston attorney Anthony Cardinale, who represented Donato Angiulo's brother, Gennaro, during the eight-month federal racketeering trial.
Cardinale recounted that he had been stricken by a virus and hospitalized just before final arguments were about to get underway in the trial.
"I remember waking up in the hospital and there was Danny, just sitting there...he had come to the hospital and sat there to see how I was,'' Cardinale said. "That was typical of the kind of guy he was."
Before Donato Angiulo became ill and was hospitalized, he often was spotted in the North End, having lunch. He was the son of Italian immigrants who ran a North End grocery store, and he was raised on Prince Street with five brothers and a sister.
The Dello Russo Funeral Home in Medford confirmed today that it is handling arrangements for Donato Angiulo and said visiting hours will be Thursday from 4 to 8 pm. at the funeral home. A Mass is scheduled for Friday at 11 a.m. at St. Leonard Church in Boston's North End.
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