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Twenty-five years ago, FBI bug unveiled Mafia induction ceremony

It’s like something from a movie. The hushed, serious tones, the pricking of a finger to draw blood, the burning of a card bearing the image of a Catholic saint, the promise to put the gang above all else, including family…

Could it be real?

A lot of people, among them former Las Vegas defense attorney Oscar Goodman, didn’t think so. But he had a client who convinced him otherwise: Vincent Frederico, a “made man” in New England’s Patriarca crime family.

The induction ceremony Goodman heard about happened 25 years ago, and the Boston Globe newspaper wrote about it last week on the anniversary of the ceremony.

Goodman remembers hearing the FBI recording of the induction ceremony, apparently the only time federal prosecutors were able to get a wire on the real thing. He didn’t believe it was real until he heard the tape.

“I used to make fun of the witnesses when they would testify that you had to have a knife at the table, where the finger would be pricked, and a gun was there, and you had the card of a saint, and you burned the card, saying that, ‘If you don’t do what’s right by omerta, the code of silence, then you’ll burn like the saints in hell.’ And I would belittle them because it was just too much out of the movies. And yet, when I heard the real Mafia induction ceremony, it was verbatim.”

Goodman noted that one part of the ceremony seemed especially problematic for a defense attorney.

“I could win the murders, and I could win the robberies. And I could win the extortion and I can win this and I can win that,” he said recently.  But “that part about leaving your mother on her deathbed when the boss summons you. I said, ‘Vinnie, I don’t know whether I could overcome that with the jury.’

“And Vinnie turns to his co-defendant and he says, ‘Next time we’ll leave that line out.’”

Frederico and his associates at the ceremony lost their case and went to prison.

Launce Rake is the content development specialist at The Mob Museum.