Matthew Guglielmetti’s career as a made man is over. But that doesn’t mean he’ll be cooperating with authorities to end other careers in the New England criminal underworld. That’s what his attorney, at least, is counting on. On May 13, Guglielmetti, standing before U.S. District Judge Ernest Torres, pleaded guilty to attempted cocaine-trafficking charges. His arrest back in January was a classic sting of a union whose top leadership long had worked with organized crime figures. Back in 1995 LIUNA, well documented to be in cahoots with mobsters, had averted a federal RICO suit by agreeing to a supervised internal cleanup.
Providence, in particular, was of interest to the Justice Department. The city and surrounding area was the home turf of then-union president Arthur A. Coia, who, like his father, Arthur E. Coia, himself a ranking union official, had worked with New England’s Patriarca crime family. The younger Coia managed to avoid a racketeering rap, though in the end, late in 1999, he agreed to step down. He was prosecuted, but on an unrelated charge of state and local tax evasion on Ferrari purchases from a union vendor. A few years later the FBI had begun a probe into criminal links between the Laborers, Rhode Island construction contractors and the Patriarcas. In Guglielmetti, who’d done prison time in the first half of the 90s for running Patriarca gambling and loan sharking operations, the feds believed they had the key missing link.
Gugielmetti had found a job as a Laborers shop steward for Capital City Concrete. To snare him, the feds set up a straw company, Hemphill Construction, and taped Gugielmetti and two of his associates, Anthony Moscarelli and Alan Blamires, agreeing to guard a “shipment” of 67 kilos of cocaine passing through Rhode Island en route to Canada. For his effort, Guglielmetti would receive $67,000, or $1,000 per kilo. But on January 20 of this year, when he came to get paid, his connection turned out to be an undercover agent. Under a plea agreement he signed in March, Guglielmetti faces a potential 12-year prison sentence. Though at age 56, he would seem to have little to lose by naming names, his lawyer, John Cicilline, believes otherwise. “I’ve known Matty for 25 years, and he’s the same person today as when I first met him,” he said. “There’s no chance that he would fall into that category of a ‘cooperating witness.” (Providence Journal, 5/14).