BOSTON — A Boston mob associate who spent years on the lam in Idaho as a cattle rancher was sentenced to 28 years in prison Monday in a string of federal crimes, including the 1989 attempted murder of a man who later became the boss of the New England Mafia.
Enrico Ponzo was convicted in November in the attempted killing of Francis “Cadillac Frank” Salemme. He plans to appeal his sentence.
Ponzo fled Massachusetts in 1994 and initially lived in Arizona, where, prosecutors said, he helped manage a marijuana-trafficking organization. He later settled in the small farm town of Marsing, Idaho, where he built a home with his longtime girlfriend and became a cattle rancher and stay-at-home father known as Jay Shaw.
Ponzo, now 45, represented himself during the sentencing hearing and made a rambling speech as he pleaded with Judge Nathaniel Gorton to sentence him to no more than 15 years in prison. He downplayed his role in the marijuana operation and described himself as a “completely self-rehabilitated man” in Idaho.
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“I’ve done everything I can to be a productive citizen for at least the last 10 years,” Ponzo said. “I withdrew from all criminal activity.”
But prosecutors recommended a 40-year sentence, saying Ponzo continued to commit crimes after he fled Boston, including helping to run the marijuana operation and later living off the illegal drug proceeds instead of finding a legitimate job. Assistant U.S. Attorney Michael Tabak said Ponzo continues to lie about why he left Boston and refuses to accept responsibility for his crimes.
In a 1997 indictment, Ponzo and Vincent Marino were named as the triggermen who shot at Salemme as he walked into an International House of Pancakes in Saugus, north of Boston.
Ponzo claimed he fled Boston because a mobster was trying to kill him.
“You can run,” Gorton told him, “but ultimately you cannot hide from your sordid past in organized crime.”