PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) - Rudolph Sciarra, once considered a high-ranking member of the Patriarca crime family, has died, the Target 12 Investigators have learned.
Sciarra, 88, of Johnston, died Wednesday at a nursing home of natural causes.
"He was a feared, ruthless, individual on the street. He had hands like cement blocks," said one longtime mob investigator who asked not to be identified. "The name 'Rudy Sciarra' struck fear in people."
Sciarra's granddaughter asked that the information for the wake and funeral remain private. She added the man who made headlines was not the one she knew growing up.
"He was one of the most wonderful men I've ever known," Brianna Gemery said in a telephone interview. "He and my grandmother practically raised me and I loved them like they were my own parents."
Rhode Island State Police Colonel Steve O'Donnell said at one time Sciarra was considered a capo regime in the family and had the nickname "The Captain."
"He was a very loyal trusted enforcer to Patriacra crime family. In his day he was one of the most feared individuals," O'Donnell said. "Even in an elderly state he still had the warped respect of the membership based on his violent history."
Former Superintendent of the State Police Brendan Doherty referred to Sciarra as "the real deal."
"He was an old school La Cosa Nostra member; loyal to Raymond [Patriarca Sr.] and Louie Manocchio," Doherty said. "He schooled Edward Lato and Rocco Argenti."
Despite his reputation, Doherty said it always stood out to him how loyal he was to his longtime wife, Lucy.
"When I started on the state police he was a fugitive and we were out looking for him," Doherty said. "By the time I got to know him he was well established and not conducting street crimes, he was a capo."
Throughout the years, Sciarra had several brushes with the law.
In 1985 he pleaded no contest to charges that he supplied the gun in the gangland slaying of Raymond F. "Baby" Curcio, the crime Doherty said he was a fugitive from justice for. At the time police said Curcio was a drug addict and had broken into the home of the brother to now-deceased mob boss Raymond L.S. Patriarca.
Prosecutors allege Patriaca ordered the hit, but he died before ever going to trial.
More recently, Sciarra pleaded no contest to charges in 2003 that he was involved in a gambling ring along with admitted mobster Anthony "The Saint" St. Laurent.
Law enforcement sources tell Target 12 that Sciarra would get a weekly visit from the reputed former mob boss Luigi "Baby Shacks" Manocchio. Those visits ended with Manocchio's arrest in January 2011.
The 84-year-old Manocchio pleaded guilty to racketeering conspiracy and will be sentenced on May 11.
O'Donnell worked as a corrections officer at the Adult Correctional Institution when Sciarra was serving time for the Curcio murder.
"He was quiet," O'Donnell said. "He was polite."
Copyright WPRI 12
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