BOSTON -- The former Boston mob associate who hid out in rural Idaho for years will be going to prison for at least 20 years. Enrico Ponzo, who was known by his Marsing neighbors as "Jay Shaw", was sentenced to 28 years for crimes including two attempted murders.
Ponzo was indicted for a variety of crimes in the 1990s but hid out in rural Idaho with his family for 17 years before he was caught in February 2011. Neighbors have described Ponzo, or "Shaw" as they knew him, as a friendly family man.
Ponzo was convicted of a number of crimes, including taking an Uzi to an IHOP and attempting to murder "Cadillac Frank" Salemme in the late 80s, as he was rising to power in the fracturing mafia hierarchy. During his three-hour sentencing in court, Ponzo acted as his own lawyer.
Boston Globe Reporter Milton Valencia covered the trial in 2013 and was in court for Ponzo's sentencing on Monday. Valencia says Ponzo was theatrical, interrupting the judge and citing case law.
"The real notable thing at the end was the judge was advising him of his appellate rights, and he had already prewritten his notice of appeal. So he studied the law, he told the judge, and he definitely made it clear. And it added to the intrigue of everything," Valencia said.
Valencia says Ponzo gave the impression of neither an Idaho rancher nor a Boston mobster. He says he came off as an intelligent person, with the judge even pointing out Ponzo was clearly a type of person who worked hard.
"He does not seem like a farmer in jeans, kind of a cattle rancher. He doesn't even seem the old mafia figure they painted him as," Valencia said. "He seemed like this older man, balding, who's been reading a lot, and getting a little frazzled as he's trying to explain this to the judge."
Ponzo asked for mercy and for a sentence of no more than 15 years.
"He wanted to make clear he's not Enrico Ponzo of Boston from 20 years ago. He stood up in court and said, 'I'm Jay Shaw from Marsing, Idaho. This is who I am. If I was the Enrico Ponzo 20 years ago, I would have fled a long time ago,'" Valencia summarized. "'I'm the guy who doesn't do drugs anymore, who has not been involved in any violent crime, who loved his kids and had a lot of friends in Idaho.' He was saying when he gets out of jail; he wants to go back there."
Valencia said no victims testified; however, in mafia cases, he says that is a common thing to see. He also told KTVB that people from Marsing wrote to the judge, explaining Ponzo's character.
"There were people from Marsing who even wrote to the judge, you know, saying Your Honor, this is a person we know. We can't believe the person you're describing. We don't see it. We know him as a cattle rancher, a loving father, who was always with his children."
In addition to attempted murder convictions, Ponzo was found guilty of money laundering, racketeering conspiracy, conspiracy to distribution cocaine and marijuana, attempted witness tampering and illegally fleeing to avoid prosecution.
The judge told Ponzo he was the quote "personification of a career criminal". Even if Ponzo were to get out on good behavior, Valencia says with some mandatory minimum terms on charges he'll be in prison for at least 20 years.