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Police: Burglars jackhammer way to mobster's hidden loot

Police: Burglars jackhammer way to mobster's hidden loot
The home of Enrico Ponzo CBS/KREM

(CBS/KREM/AP) NAMPA, Idaho - Burglars targeted the former home of a mobster who hid out in Idaho for more than a decade before his February arrest, authorities say.

A friend and neighbor of 42-year-old Enrico Ponzo is among three men who face felony conspiracy, burglary and grand theft charges.

According to CBS affiliate KREM, Ponzo's close friend Kelly Verceles and Robert Corson are accused of stealing cash and valuables from the southwestern Idaho home Ponzo left empty after his capture.

The Idaho Press-Tribune reports a third man, Corson's son Nicholas, was also charged in the Owyhee County case.

A preliminary hearing for all three men has been set for May 2.

Ponzo lived under the assumed name of "Jeffrey Shaw" in Marsing, a farm town west of Boise, before he was caught earlier this year and brought back to Massachusetts to face almost a dozen federal charges, including plotting to kill a former mob boss. He was described by neighbors as hardworking and a proud father of two children, but to the FBI, he was a New England mobster who vanished in 1994 after a botched attempt to whack his boss.

Ponzo faces charges from a 1997 indictment accusing him and 14 others of racketeering, attempted murder and conspiracy to kill rivals. He is also charged in the 1989 attempted murder of Frank Salemme. Known as "Cadillac Frank," Salemme is the ex-head of the Patriarca Family of La Cosa Nostra. He has pleaded not guilty.

After Ponzo was caught, the FBI said a search of his Idaho home turned up 38 guns, $15,000 in cash and at least 50 books and manuals describing ways to create aliases.

But apparently there was more to be found.

Verceles and Corson are accused of breaking into Ponzo's home to steal a safe he had buried under a layer of concrete.

"It is alleged that these individuals jack-hammered the concrete floor, located the safe and used a blowtorch to cut the safe open," Owyhee County Prosecutor Douglas Emery said.

Authorities say they have recovered more than $100,000 in cash, some gold, documents, papers and one or more pieces of diamond jewelry.

"It's believed there were additional funds and/or valuables taken by each of those individuals," Emery said.

An attorney for Corson did not immediately return a phone call to The Associated Press. An attorney for Verceles was in court and could not be reached.