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A Key Player in the Patriarca Era Retires - Vespia Steps Down

Monday, October 17, 2016


Vincent Vespia

Vincent Vespia and Raymond Patriarca are inexplicably linked together.

In the early 1980s, Vespia, then a top State Police organized crime investigator, and Richard Tamburini of the Providence Police Department, arrested Raymond Patriarca — an event that led to the beginning on the demise of the New England Crime family.

Vespia, who had a storied career with the Rhode Island State Police and then served as Police Chief in South Kingstown, announced his retirement late last week.

“Vespia was a kick-ass cop who had grown up on the Hill, playing in the street with some of the wise guys he now pursued,” wrote Mike Stanton in The Prince of Providence. 

“One night Vespia came crashing through the second-floor window of Willie Marfeo’s crap game on Federal Hill from the bucket of a cherry picker, waving a machine gun at two dozen stunned dice players," wrote Stanton.

Former State Police Col. Brendan Doherty

“Vinny Vespia applied constant pressure on Rhode Island mobsters. He played mind games on them and was often able to figure out their next move. He understood their world and what would entice them to pursue a particular shakedown, beating or even the planning of a murder. He was on top of his game. When it came to mob activity Vinny could hear the grass grow,” former State Police Colonel Brendan Doherty told GoLocalProv on Sunday. 

"Vin Vespias energy and enthusiasm were contagious-----It was inspiring to watch him work. Patriaca and his crew knew to put their hands in  the air. They were no match," said Tamburini, now the Police Chief in Johnston.


Should He Have Been Head of the State Police?

For many, Vespia should have headed the State Police after the retirement of Walter Stone, but the end of Stone’s career ended under the shadow of lawsuits relating to gender bias at the Department. Stone’s career was legendary — more than 55 years in law enforcement and more than 25 years heading the State Police. 

Then-Governor Ed DiPrete went outside the agency and selected New York Trooper Edward Culhane instead of selecting Vespia.

Former AG Arlene Violet

"Chief Vincent Vespia is the quintessential cop who is respected by the law enforcement community. He has never missed a beat when it came to finding those responsible for a crime no matter how cold the case. Chief Vespia belongs in the annals of great police leaders like his former mentor, R.I. State Police Supt., Colonel Walter Stone,” former Rhode Island Attorney General Arlene Violet told GoLocal.

“When I started working in the Organized Crime Unit I'd have the occasion to interview mobsters for information. Their terms and nomenclature aren't known to the average person and there would be only a few people who would be referred by one name only on both sides of aisle. Raymond, Gerard, Nicky, Junior and for the good guys, The Colonel and Vinny were a few of them. In an era when organized crime activity was giving Rhode Island a black eye, Vin Vespia was on the front line and served the state well," said Doherty.


Related Slideshow: The Patriarca Papers Experts

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Col. Doherty

Brendan Doherty - Former Superintendent of the Rhode Island State Police. Doherty was assigned by legendary Superintendent of the State Police Walter Stone to the state police Intelligence Unit, commonly known as the Organized Crime Unit, in 1986. He is widely respected for his leadership.

In 2014, Doherty ran for the United States Congress in the 1st District.  Presently, he serves as a top level executive with Blue Cross Blue Shield of Rhode Island.

PHOTO: Courtesy of Richard McCaffrey

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General Violet

Arlene Violet - Served as Rhode Island Attorney General from 1985 to 1987. The former nun in the order of the Sisters of Mercy was the first woman elected as a state Attorney General in the United States. 

For more than a decade, Violet had been a radio talk show host in Providence and she has been in private law practice since leaving the Attorney General’s office.  

In 2010, Violet and former Police Chief John Partington published “The Mob and Me,” about the federal witness protection program.

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Col. Foley

Thomas Foley -  Served as the Superintendent of the Massachusetts State Police.  In 2004, he was awarded the United States Attorney General’s Award for Exceptional Service for his role in the Whitey Bulger/John Connolly investigation. 

In 2012, Foley and John Sedgwick wrote,  “MOST WANTED: Pursuing Whitey Bulger, the Murderous Mob Chief the FBI Secretly Protected.”

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Artin Coloian

Artin Coloian — A criminal defense attorney, he has represented some of the most infamous members of the New England Mafia, including top mafia leader Bobby DeLuca. Coloian served as chief of staff to Vincent “Buddy” Cianci, Jr. 

Coloian was indicted in the US Justice Department’s corruption probe of Providence that led to the conviction of then Providence Mayor Cianci.  Coloian was found innocent of the government’s charges.

Since leaving City Hall, Coloian has been one of the most prolific criminal defense attorneys in New England.

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Chief Tamburini

Richard Tamburini - Today he serves as the police Chief in Johnston, RI.

Chief Tamburini began his distinguished law enforcement career as a patrolman with the Providence Police Department.  He was assigned to the Providence Detective Bureau as a Detective. Later, Tamburini was promoted to Lieutenant and teamed on an investigative team with Detective Vincent Vespia.

He was the first police officer outside of the Rhode Island State Police to be granted the right to conduct wiretapping. 

Tamburini is recognized as having been one of the most effective in fighting organized crime in New England.

He is a member of the RI Criminal Justice Hall of Fame.


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