A former Boston Mafia captain who spent nearly 16 years in prison for racketeering, extortion, and gambling walked out of Norfolk Superior Court yesterday, proclaiming his innocence to new charges that he is again involved in illegal gambling.
"Honestly, I have nothing to do with this," Vincent Ferrara, 59, of Boston, said in an interview after his arraignment in Dedham. He was indicted with 12 other men last month on more serious felony bookmaking charges. "It's a joke."
As Ferrara pleaded not guilty to a charge of conspiring to use a telephone for gambling purposes, his lawyer, John McGlone III of Quincy, called for a speedy trial. The charge, if Ferrara is found guilty, would carry a $2,000 fine and a sentence of up to a year in jail. But he could face more jail time because his probation on the federal crimes for which he was imprisoned does not end until Sunday.
"I take every charge seriously, even though it's false," he said yesterday.
McGlone said police have no evidence against his client. He told Judge Janet L. Sanders that the State Police Special Services Section tapped Ferrara's telephone during a seven-month investigation of illegal gambling, but found no incriminating conversations.
Ferrara was charged after police overheard some of Ferrara's codefendants implicate him in their illegal ring, McGlone said after the arraignment.
McGlone said police heard from others on the wiretap that Ferrara was trying to meet with his friends to drum up business for his new restaurant in Boston. The next day, police heard his friends say that Ferrara needed money for parking and for his gym, McGlone said.
"That is where the government is taking it as Ferrara is looking to get paid a portion of the profits" from the gambling ring, McGlone said after the arraignment. "They don't have anything on him. They have no money changing hands. Nothing."
A five-page affidavit released yesterday in support of the charges allege that ringleader Dominic Santoro of Quincy shared the profits of his illegal gaming business with associates that included Ferrara. Santoro, who was also indicted, faces 15 years in prison. McGlone called the misdemeanor charge against Ferrara "a travesty."
"This is only because of who he is," said McGlone. "The fact that he's Vincent Ferrara, they're trying to tie him to organized crime."
Fearing that he would end up with life in prison, Ferrara pleaded guilty in 1992 to racketeering charges and the 1985 slaying of Vincent "Jimmy" Limoli in the North End. Under his plea deal, he would serve 22 years in prison.
Ferrara was freed from prison in May 2005 after US District Judge Mark L. Wolf cut several years off his sentence because of government misconduct. Wolf reported Assistant US Attorney Jeffrey Auerhahn's handling of the Ferrara case to the Board of Bar Overseers after learning the government had withheld evidence in the case against him.
Wolf discovered that Auerhahn had failed to tell the defense in the early 1990s that a key witness had tried to recant his charge that Ferrara ordered Limoli's killing.