``Richie,' the raspy, nasal voice of mob consiglieri Joseph ``J.R.' Russo inquired. ``Do you got any brothers?'
``Yes,' Richard Floramo answered.``Do you have sons?'
``If I told you one of them was an informer,' Russo continued, ``a police informer, gonna put somebody in prison, and I told you, you must kill them, would you do that for me without hesitation?'
``He has to go,' Floramo replied.
Russo's cocksure voice and Floramo's, at times nervous and hesitating, boomed over a loudspeaker in U.S. District Court here this week. It was the first time that a tape recording of the Mafia's centuries old, quasi-religious initiation rite had been played in public.
The courtroom was silent except for the recorded voices. Jurors listened over headphones and followed the conversations intently from a typed transcript. The eight reputed Patriarca crime family members and associates being tried on racketeering charges did the same. About two dozen reporters and the packed gallery also strained to hear.
Propped against an evidence table was a chart with 19 color photographs taken on a quiet Sunday morning in the Boston suburbs. They depicted a tidy home at 34 Guild St. in Medford. The trees in the yard carried the last bits of autumn's color.
Scattered around the neighborhood, FBI agents and detectives hid nervously. Down the street, in a hastily assembled command post, another agent worried over a tape recorder, listening to the goings on within 34 Guild St. being provided by at least one secretly installed transmitter.
As noon approached, a big Lincoln stopped repeatedly in front of the home. It deposited groups of mostly middle-aged men. All but one were wearing business suits or sports jackets and ties.
The eavesdropping agent heard the coughing and small talk of 17 sworn Patriarca family members and the scraping sound of furniture being moved before Russo took the floor. He initiated four new members into New England's dominant criminal organization. Floramo was the fourth.
``We have to ask, say once more,' Russo continued, questioning Floramo. ``This thing you're in, it's gonna be the life of heaven. It's a wonderful thing, the greatest thing in the world. If you feel that way, want to be part of it, as long as you live.'
``Yes,' Floramo said. ``I do.'
``We have to ask, say once more,' Russo continued, questioning Floramo. ``This thing you're in, it's gonna be the life of heaven. It's a wonderful thing, the greatest thing in the world.
``If you feel that way, want to be part of it, as long as you live.'
The FBI considers the recording one of the most important pieces of evidence ever collected in its decades-long fight against the nation's organized crime families. For years, reputed Mafiosi have said the Mafia exists only in the fevered imaginations of government agents.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------\ The mob's rules:
* On women:
'We're very protective of our women,' one member told the four initiates. ``A woman is sacred.'\ *On introductions:
The introduction of a mob captain should go like this, a member says:
'Then he's a captain and I say, ``Vinnie, he's a friend of ours. Also he's a captain.' Then you shake hands. You don't kiss him. Years ago, we used to kiss each other.'
The practice of men kissing one another attracts too much attention, particularly from FBI agents, he explained.\ *On mobsters' position in life:
'Stay the way youse are. Don't let it go to your head,' the mob's boss, Raymond A. 'Junior' Patriarca, warned the new members.
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