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CBS: Accused Mobster Enrico Ponzo Caught in Idaho


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Accused Mobster Enrico Ponzo Caught in Idaho

(CBS/AP) For more than a decade, the vast farm fields of rural southwestern Idaho provided Enrico Ponzo the isolation he needed to hide from his past as a former New England mobster accused of trying to whack his boss.

He introduced himself to his neighbors as Jeffrey Shaw, a man who went by the nickname "Jay." He paid for everything in cash. He bought his house in his girlfriend's name.

But his past proved a stubborn companion.

Ponzo couldn't hide his vaguely New York accent. He couldn't keep his stories straight. He couldn't hide his expertise with a gun during a trip to the local shooting range. And in a community where Ponzo was surrounded by wide open ranch land, his neighbors could tell he didn't know anything about farming.

The past Ponzo tried to bury finally came calling this week, when federal agents arrived at a subdivision in Marsing and shattered the life he had so carefully crafted.

In a federal courtroom Wednesday, Ponzo pulled the mask off Jeffrey Shaw.

"My name is Enrico M. Ponzo," he said, wearing a yellow jumpsuit with his hands cuffed behind his back.

After the judge read a long list of charges against him, Ponzo pleaded not guilty. He was appointed a public defender and ordered him held without bail until another hearing Friday.

Meanwhile, a tiny farming and ranching community about 40 miles west of Boise was left to wonder how all of them got duped, and for so long. His neighbors reached back as far as they could into their memories, scouring for signs of an elaborate ruse. Some found vindication.

"We always felt that something was a little strange," said Sharie Kinney, a neighbor.

To them, he was Jay Shaw, who worked as a graphic designer from home and was known for fixing computers. He raised about a dozen cows and lived in a light green two-story home on a hilltop with his girlfriend, who moved out of the house several months ago with their two small children.

To the FBI, he was a New England mobster who vanished in 1994 after a botched attempt to kill his boss.

Cara Lyn Pace is now living with her parents in Utah.

Ponzo now 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.

Authorities declined to say how the FBI discovered him. During his arrest Monday, agents seized 38 firearms, $15,000 and a 100-ounce bar of either gold or silver from the home.

Neighbors say Ponzo moved into the community, which sits at the base of the Owyhee Mountains in southwestern Idaho, about 10 or 11 years ago. He told some he was from New York, and to their ears, he had the accent to prove it. But he told others that he was from New Jersey.

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Love how the article talks about a "finely crafted" ruse and precedes it by illustrating how poorly crafted it was. Also says early on how locals found details of his life suspicious, but then says that they were duped.

Anyway, I'm all into the mob stories from re-watching sopranos. This is pretty interesting.

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Yeah, it's a pretty big water cooler topic at my job. One of the managers is his neighbor. I've noticed that the Feds have been real cautious in making sure a current picture of the dude doesn't surface. I'm guessing their going to make a witness out of him for some bigger fish. He's also getting some grass roots support from local forums stating basically "He's reformed himself better in hiding then any prison ever could have".

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