CHAPTER TWELVE

Mob Justice

Rhode Island Supreme Court Chief Justice Joseph A. Bevilacqua listens to testimony during his impeachment hearing. Courtesy of The Providence Journal/Scott Robinson.

Rhode Island Supreme Court Chief Justice Joseph A. Bevilacqua listens to testimony during his impeachment hearing. Courtesy of The Providence Journal/Scott Robinson.

A mob lawyer rises to become Chief Justice of the Rhode Island Supreme Court. He promises to leave his past associations behind. But it's hard to part with old friends.

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FRIENDS IN low PLACES

Robert Barbato hides his face in November 1991. Barbato's decades-long friendship with Bevilacqua drew media scrutiny when Bevilacqua became Chief Justice of the Rhode Island Supreme Court. Courtesy of The Providence Journal/Mary Murphy.

Robert Barbato hides his face in November 1991. Barbato's decades-long friendship with Bevilacqua drew media scrutiny when Bevilacqua became Chief Justice of the Rhode Island Supreme Court. Courtesy of The Providence Journal/Mary Murphy.

Nicky Bianco, an underboss in the Patriarca crime family, leaves Superior Court. According to later witness testimony, Bianco told Joseph Bevilacqua Sr. not to take the Chief Justice position. Courtesy of The Providence Journal.

Nicky Bianco, an underboss in the Patriarca crime family, leaves Superior Court. According to later witness testimony, Bianco told Joseph Bevilacqua Sr. not to take the Chief Justice position. Courtesy of The Providence Journal.

You can’t always pick your friends.
— John Bevilacqua, Joseph's son

THE RISE OF A CHIEF JUSTICE

Bevilacqua was installed as Chief Justice in 1976 after a 21-year career in the Rhode Island legislature. Robert Barbato attended a party in Bevilacqua's chambers following the swearing-in ceremony. Courtesy of The Providence Journal/J. David Lamontagne.

Bevilacqua was installed as Chief Justice in 1976 after a 21-year career in the Rhode Island legislature. Robert Barbato attended a party in Bevilacqua's chambers following the swearing-in ceremony. Courtesy of The Providence Journal/J. David Lamontagne.

August 27, 1976

Courtesy of the Providence Public Library/The Providence Journal.

December 2, 1984

Courtesy of The Providence Journal.

I have known Mr. Patriarca for a good many years. I have found him to be a good person.
— JOSEPH BEVILACQUA
Bevilacqua addresses a gathering at the Colony House in Newport in May 1976. Several months later, reports revealed that Bevilacqua had written a letter to the parole board on behalf of crime boss Raymond Patriarca in 1973. Courtesy of The Providence Journal/George E. Rooney.

Bevilacqua addresses a gathering at the Colony House in Newport in May 1976. Several months later, reports revealed that Bevilacqua had written a letter to the parole board on behalf of crime boss Raymond Patriarca in 1973. Courtesy of The Providence Journal/George E. Rooney.


A gift for The Providence Journal

On April 12, 1985, the Providence Journal published front-page photos of Bevilacqua visiting the mob-run Alpine Motel, where he allegedly met a woman who was not his wife. Courtesy of the Providence Public Library/The Providence Journal.

Colonel Walter Stone with Jim Mullen in 1990. Stone waged a decades-long war against organized crime in Rhode Island. Courtesy of Jim Mullen. 

Colonel Walter Stone with Jim Mullen in 1990. Stone waged a decades-long war against organized crime in Rhode Island. Courtesy of Jim Mullen. 

We weren’t zooming in for the perfect shot. But yeah, there was one that appeared that he had his zipper on his hand.
— STATE POLICE INVESTIGATOR Jim Mullen
Jim Mullen's father, James Mullen Sr., worked with Stone on the Rhode Island State Police in the 1970s. Courtesy of The Providence Journal.

Jim Mullen's father, James Mullen Sr., worked with Stone on the Rhode Island State Police in the 1970s. Courtesy of The Providence Journal.

In the year following the release of photos of Chief Justice Bevilacqua at the Alpine Motel, the Rhode Island legislature introduced a resolution to impeach him. Courtesy of YouTube/WJAR.


THE IMPEACHMENT

May 27, 1986

Courtesy of the Providence Public Library/The Providence Journal.

Richard "Moon" DiOrio in a mug shot in 1975. DiOrio was a member of the Patriarca crime family, and was called in as a protected witness during the Bevilacqua inquiry. Courtesy of The Providence Journal.

Richard "Moon" DiOrio in a mug shot in 1975. DiOrio was a member of the Patriarca crime family, and was called in as a protected witness during the Bevilacqua inquiry. Courtesy of The Providence Journal.

I admit to being a criminal. I’m not wearing a robe. He is.
— Richard "Moon" DiOrio
Joseph Bevilacqua Jr., left, with attorney Richard Egbert. Together, they were the defense team for Joseph Bevilacqua Sr. during the House Judiciary Committee's public inquiry. Courtesy of The Providence Journal.

Joseph Bevilacqua Jr., left, with attorney Richard Egbert. Together, they were the defense team for Joseph Bevilacqua Sr. during the House Judiciary Committee's public inquiry. Courtesy of The Providence Journal.

Egbert and DiOrio clashed during questioning as DiOrio called Bevilacqua's integrity into question. Courtesy of Rhode Island State Archives.

Joseph Bevilacqua Jr., left, with his father, right, in court on May 28, 1986. Courtesy of The Providence Journal/Rachel Ritchie.

Joseph Bevilacqua Jr., left, with his father, right, in court on May 28, 1986. Courtesy of The Providence Journal/Rachel Ritchie.

John Bevilacqua, Joseph Sr.'s son, was the Senate majority leader in Rhode Island. He felt that the state police and The Providence Journal conspired to ruin his father. Courtesy of The Providence Journal.

John Bevilacqua, Joseph Sr.'s son, was the Senate majority leader in Rhode Island. He felt that the state police and The Providence Journal conspired to ruin his father. Courtesy of The Providence Journal.


May 29, 1986

Bevilacqua resigned before the hearings were over. As the inquiry came to an end, coverage of Bevilacqua's resignation took stock of the reactions of friends and neighbors, the charges he may have faced, and Bevilacqua's ten-year career as Chief Justice. Courtesy of the Providence Public Library/The Providence Journal.


June 21, 1989

Just over three years after resigning as Chief Justice, Joseph Bevilacqua passed away. "He was a man who never forgot his roots," said Monsignor Albert J. Cerrito during the funeral ceremony, held the following week in Bevilacqua's home neighborhood, Silver Lake. Courtesy of The Providence Journal. 


EPISODE CREDITS

Crimetown is Marc Smerling and Zac Stuart-Pontier. It is produced by Austin Mitchell, Drew Nelles, Kaitlin Roberts and Mike Plunkett. The associate producer is Laura Sim. The show is edited by Alex Blumberg and Caitlin Kenney. Fact-checking by Mick Rouse. This episode of Crimetown was mixed, sound designed, and scored by Matthew Boll. Additional mixing by Enoch Kim. The title track is “Run To Your Mama” by Goat. The credit music this week is "Good Times" by Andy Johnston, courtesy of Jack Fleischer. Impeachment archival footage courtesy of the Rhode Island State Archives. News archival footage courtesy of WPRI channel 12 and WPRO channel 10. 

Original music by John Kusiak, Jon Ivans, Edwin and Bienart. Ad music is by Matthew Boll. The show's digital editor is Rob Szypko. The design director is Ale Lariu. This season of Crimetown is dedicated to the memory of Zachary Malinowski. Thanks to he Providence Journal, Julia Heymans, Emily Wiedemann, Lisa Newby, Tim White, Jim Taricani, Ken Carlson, Kate Wells, Mary Murphy, and everyone who shared their stories with us. Providence is a special place, and we're honored to tell a part of its story.

Ale LariuEpisode Twelve