Enrico Ponzo never really fit in among the people in Marsing, Idaho.
That’s because Ponzo, who the townspeople knew as Jay Shaw, wasn’t the cattle rancher he claimed to be. Instead he was a Boston mobster wanted on charges of racketeering and attempted murder.
Ponzo was caught in 2011, pinched as he was trying to negotiate the purchase of a 12-acre ranch. He is now going on trial in Boston, and the residents of Marsing are still stunned by all the events.
“It was almost unbelievable,” said farmer Bob Briggs, who was actually talking to Ponzo when he was arrested by federal agents. “People couldn’t understand why and what for and how come.”
Briggs said Ponzo claimed to be from New York and said he spent time in the Army, but others thought there was something a bit off. Brodie Clapier, a neighbor and longtime rancher, said Enrico Ponzo looked like he was trying too hard to fit in.
“He wore bib overalls and straw hats,” Clapier said. “People did wear bib overalls here — in the 1930s.”
Neighbors from Marsing remembered him as a hard-working man who loved his family, but prosecutors say he’s hiding a dark past. Ponzo is accused of conspiring with a group of mobsters to attempt to kill Francis “Cadillac Frank” Salemme, who was on his way to becoming boss of the Patriarca crime family.
Saleme was shot as he walked into an IHOP in Saugus, Massachusetts. A 1997 indictment said Ponzo was the one who pulled the trigger.
“He was part of the group who was trying to seize control,” said Assistant U.S. Attorney Karen Beausey in opening statements in his trial.
Beausey detailed the life of Enrico Ponzo while on the run. After fleeing the Northeast, he settled in Arizona where he led a large-scale marijuana distribution operation. He then took the drug money and moved to Idaho, where he started a new life with his girlfriend.
A lawyer for Enrico Ponzo said he wasn’t involved with the attempted murder, and only fled town when he was put on a hit list by a mobster whose son was killed.