PAWTUCKET, R.I. (WPRI) — The man who was gunned down Sunday morning in what authorities are examining as a possible gangland slaying was an associate of a former Rhode Island mob boss, the Target 12 Investigators have learned.
Napoloen Andrade, 37, of Central Falls, was shot in the shadow of the Pawtucket halfway house where he was staying. Andrade — who has a lengthy criminal history — was wrapping up a sentence for taking part in a 2010 Connecticut home invasion where the victim was a 78-year-old associate of the Gambino crime family.
Andrade previously worked as a bouncer at Providence-area strip clubs with ties to organized crime. Retired R.I. State Police Col. Steven O'Donnell, a veteran mob investigator, said Andrade was an associate to former mob boss Luigi "Baby Shacks" Manocchio.
"He's an enforcer; he's the type of person when he shows up at your door you're going to what you’re asked to do," O'Donnell said. "It was unusual to have a mob boss trusting someone outside the mob family. That relationship developed over years and Louie Manocchio trusted him."
Manocchio, 91, was released from federal prison in 2015 after serving five-and-a-half years for shaking down strip clubs for protection money. The case was part of a sweeping 2011 crackdown into organized crime.
O'Donnell said there is little question detectives are looking into whether the murder was in retribution to the home invasion. He said it's likely Pawtucket police have questioned another resident of the halfway house: mob capo Edward "Eddie" Lato.
Lato, 71, is wrapping up his nine-year sentence after pleading guilty in the same case as Manocchio.
"I think they interview everyone in that house," O'Donnell said. "Some people may interview with them, some may choose not to."
Christian Schiavone, communications director for Community Resources for Justice, the nonprofit that runs the halfway house, said the murder "appears to have been an isolated incident. Out of an abundance of caution, we are taking some additional security measures, but we remain confident that the program is secure.”
Schiavone also said the group is "fully cooperating with law enforcement."
"Our thoughts are with those who’ve been impacted by this terrible incident, and our focus now is on supporting our staff and residents and reaching out to our community partners during this difficult time," he said in an email.
Andrade was no stranger to police. Court records show he has been charged nearly a dozen times in the last 18 years by local law enforcement and was caught up in several federal investigations, including on gun and drug charges.
O'Donnell said the long rap sheet creates challenges for police.
"He has a lot of enemies," O'Donnell said. "There are a lot of people, based on things that have happened over his lifetime — it could push law enforcement in 10 different directions."
At his sentencing for the home invasion in 2014, Assistant U.S. Attorney Gerard Sullivan called Andrade "a career criminal and a brutal man."
He told the judge Andrade lunged at the Gambino associate "threw a football tackle on him, bound him, and put a towel over his head."
One of Andrade's attorneys, Paul DiMaio, said his client was tough on the street, but was easy to deal with in the courtroom. Andrade ended up pleading guilty to charges related to the home invasion to avoid trial.
"He took his medicine," DiMaio said, adding that he thought others directed Andrade to commit the home invasion "because he was a tough kid."
A spokesperson for the FBI referred all questions to Pawtucket police leaders, saying it was their investigation.
A Rhode Island State Police spokesperson said the agency has a detective assigned to the federal Safe Streets Task Force assisting in the case.
If the Andrade murder turns out to be an orchestrated hit with ties to members or associates of La Cosa Nostra, it will be the first one in Rhode Island in nearly a quarter-century.
In the early morning of April 1, 1994, two people were shot and killed inside the Hockey Fans Social Club in Cranston. Mobster Antonino "Nino" Cucinotta — who used to be the driver for legendary mob boss Raymond Patriarca — pleaded guilty four years later to charges that he executed fellow mobster Ronnie Coppola and associate Peter Scarpellino.
O'Donnell said Andrade's murder could also send ripple effects through the region, and may force some to seek government protection. He singled out mob captain Robert DeLuca and his brother, mobster Joseph DeLuca, both of whom testified against former boss Francis "Cadillac Frank" Salemme.
"Never underestimate that family," O'Donnell said, referring to La Cosa Nostra. "It's up to those people if they want to move ... if they don't want to go it’s their peril, but I would be paying attention to that if I was on the street."
Robert DeLuca is currently in prison after pleading guilty to charges that he lied to investigators.