Oct. 29, 1989: A secret recording captured inside a Massachusetts home changed organized crime forever. Four members of the Patriarca crime family took the oath of secrecy to join the crime family. Little did they know that the FBI was secretly recording the whole thing. Target 12 Investigator Tim White goes in-depth on this incredible moment in mob history, 30 years to the day of the now-infamous mob induction ceremony. An FBI agent assigned to the case speaks publicly for the first time, and we reveal what happened to the four men who swore a secret oath to La Costa Nostra.
The mob induction ceremony took place on Oct. 29, 1989, at 34 Guild Street in Medford, Massachusetts. Posing as utility men, FBI agents ran a wire from that house to a home up the street the night before. Several other agents then took pictures from a second-floor bathroom across the street as members of the New England crime family arrived for the secret meeting.
THE KEY PLAYERS
The Oct. 29, 1989, meeting at 34 Guild St. lasted for hours. After the induction of four new members into the crime family, the group discussed how to properly introduce each other to other made members of La Cosa Nostra, and other rules that are followed in the organization.
Several FBI agents positioned themselves across the street from the location of the induction ceremony to take pictures of who was coming and going from 34 Guild St. Agents were on a second-floor bathroom when these photos were taken on Oct. 29, 1989. They were later used as evidence in a federal trial.
This 12 on 12 Digital Original relied heavily on the archives at WPRI. Below are two reports from the archives, one from just prior to the induction ceremony, and the other marked some of the fallout. First is a June 19, 1989, report on the murder of then-underboss William “Billy” Grasso and attempted murder of Francis “Cadillac Frank” Salemme, and the second is a report from the Nov. 25, 1991, sentencing of mob boss Nicholas “Nicky” Bianco. The FBI tapes were played at Bianco’s trial. Both reports are by the late Target 12 Investigator Jack White.
CLEANING UP THE MAFIA TAPES
The FBI used audio cassettes to record the Oct. 29, 1989, Mafia induction ceremony. The conversations are often hard to understand because of the hiss from the recording as well as a television playing in the background. In this video, Tim White explains how WPRI 12 used software to identify and remove some of the background noise.
Executive Producer/Reporter – Tim White Chief Videographer/Editor – John Villella Graphic Designer – Lisa Mandarini Producers – Darren Soens & Hannah Dickison Digital Content Producers – Nick Blair, Lee Dooley & Nancy Krause Additional Videography – James Bartone Special Thanks – Ted Nesi & Eli Sherman