Suspected Mobster Who Hid In ID To Appear In Court

BOISE, Idaho (AP) - The past is quickly closing in on Enrico Ponzo.

The man accused of being a New England mobster who tried to whack his boss then hid out for years in Idaho will soon learn how quickly federal authorities will ship him back to Boston.

Ponzo was set to appear Friday at a detention hearing after his arrest earlier this week at the home he built in the shadow of the Owyhee Mountains.

News that Ponzo was alive and had been captured surprised many authorities who worked organized crime cases in Boston in the 1990s.

"A lot of people suspected that he might have been a murder victim himself," said detective Lt. Stephen Johnson of the Massachusetts State Police. "He lasted out there for a long time for a fugitive. . It's not an easy life."

Authorities say Ponzo fled Boston in 1994 and for at least the past 11 years has been living a quiet, inconspicuous life under an assumed name in Marsing, a farm town west of Boise.

FBI agents have said little about how they connected the dots to finally determine Ponzo's whereabouts.

A judge will decide at the federal court hearing in Boise how long to hold him in Idaho before he is transported back to Massachusetts, a state he initially fled to avoid drug charges.

Ponzo was indicted three years later on more serious crimes stemming from his suspected role in organized crime, including attempting to kill Francis "Cadillac Frank" Salemme, a former head of the New England mob.

Ponzo was read the long list of federal charges during an initial court appearance Wednesday. He pleaded not guilty and was ordered held without bond in the Ada County Courthouse.

Prosecutors claim Ponzo is a significant flight risk and want him to remain in custody until his trial.

In Idaho, Ponzo has been living under the alias Jeffrey Shaw and was described by friends and neighbors as hardworking, friendly and a proud father of two children.

Few believed he could have a past built on the criminal misdeeds spelled out in dozens of pages of federal court documents, including the attempted hit on a crime boss.

Ponzo is accused of taking aim at Salemme in 1989 outside an International House of Pancakes in Saugus, Mass.

Salemme was shot in the leg and chest during the attack and survived. Three other alleged members of the Patriarca Family of La Cosa Nostra were killed in the gunfire.

Salemme served several years in prison after being indicted in 1995 on racketeering and other charges.

In 2008, he was sentenced to five more years for lying to authorities investigating the FBI's connections to organized crime. Authorities now say he is in the federal witness protection program.


Denise Lavoie contributed to this story from Boston