In Randolph, suspect seen as the chatty sort

By Matt Carroll
Globe Staff / January 10, 2010

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In his quiet Randolph neighborhood, Franklin M. Goldman was just another neighbor who liked to chat. But to the FBI, the 66-year-old felon was a member of a vicious New York Mafia family crew, whose calling cards were loan sharking, drug trafficking, extortion, and beatings.

Goldman, along with three others, was arraigned last month on a federal racketeering charge that could send him away for decades. He has pleaded not guilty.

The FBI says he’s part of a Colombo Mafia crew headed by Ralph F. DeLeo, a “street boss’’ of the Mafia family. The Colombo family is one of five Mafia families in New York.

Goldman, according to the indictment, specialized in drug deals and has served time in prison on a 1993 cocaine trafficking conviction. He was released in 2008.

The DeLeo group operated in Massachusetts, Arkansas, Rhode Island, New York, and Florida, according to federal authorities.

Others in the crew facing charges are DeLeo, 66, of Somerville; Edmond Kulesza, 56, also of Somerville, who is alleged to be the group’s enforcer; and George Wylie Thompson, 54, of Arkansas, who allegedly set up drug deals and supplied firearms and ammunition. Authorities said a cache of weapons used by the group - including 11 pistols and rifles - was seized in Watertown recently.

The crew spent much of its time arranging drug deals and setting up extortion plots, according to court documents. Last June 16, the documents allege, Goldman, DeLeo, and Kulesza met at a coffee shop to talk about a deal, during which another associate of the group, referred to in the documents as John Doe, wanted them to beat up a business consultant. It’s not clear where the group met.

The consultant had advised an unnamed businessman not to purchase a business owned by John Doe. The beating was supposed to intimidate the businessman into completing the purchase. Kulesza was supposed to do the beating, according to the court papers.

In March, the documents say, Goldman and DeLeo visited Canton to try to extort money from a person who allegedly was in DeLeo’s debt. No other details were available, and it’s unclear from the indictment what happened in either case.

In August, Goldman was contacted by another John Doe, who proposed a marijuana deal with contacts in Montreal, according to court documents. That John Doe later traveled to Montreal to talk about importing 250 pounds of the drug.

Goldman had a series of meetings with other “John Does’’ over the next few days in Boston’s North End, Medford, and Somerville, authorities said.

In late August, authorities said, agents overheard a conversation between Goldman and two other men. “He’s gonna put the money together,’’ Goldman was recorded as saying. “He says how many pounds do you want? Forty pounds (unintelligible), what you want, I’m here for you. He says no problem. I say there is more? Absolutely.’’

Goldman told one man the marijuana was “hydro,’’ and would cost $1,200 to $5,000, depending on the grade requested. “Hydro,’’ according to a police footnote, means it was grown hydroponically, or in water, which makes it a better quality, commanding a higher price. It’s unclear how much marijuana was discussed for the price range.

In Randolph, the allegations against Goldman are news to those who know him.

Goldman had lived in Randolph since he was a young teenager, and after his release from prison in 2008, he moved into a small house on Stearns Drive. He registered to vote as an independent, but has not voted since being released from prison.

Neighbor Ted Smith, who lives across the street, described Goldman “as a nice guy. He used to be around, and he’d stop and say hello.’’ Because they drove cars that were the same color, Goldman used to joke about Smith’s “nice car.’’ He was personable, said Smith.

A former neighbor on North Street, where Goldman lived when he first moved to Randolph, remembers him as a young man. “He’d see me doing my projects, and say to me, ‘Why do you work so hard?’ ’’ said 80-year-old Hank Murphy.

Goldman, who is in custody, could not be reached for comment. An occupant of his house on Stearns Drive declined to comment.

His attorney, Edward P. Ryan Jr. of Fitchburg, said an indictment “is an accusation, nothing more. And statements at press conferences are even less.’’

Matt Carroll can be reached at