LOWELL—Paul J. Decologero is serving a 25-year prison term for racketeering and witness tampering related to the murder of Medford teenager Aislin Silva. He and his uncle Paul A. were convicted in federal court of the crime.
DeCologero worked for his oncle, a crew that operated in the northern part of Massachusetts. He was involved in the murder of Silva because he was afraid she might betray the crew to the police.
He was convicted of racketeering and witness tampering
Racketeering is a type of criminal activity where individuals commit crimes as part of a larger scheme or plan. It is illegal under federal law thanks to the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act, which was passed in 1970.
The DeCologero crew was a group of drug dealers and thieves that operated in Boston, Massachusetts from 1995 to 1996. The crew was led by Paul A., and included his nephews Paul J. and John P., his son John Jr., and a friend Joseph F. Pavone.
They were each convicted of assorted RICO, robbery, drug dealing, witness tampering, firearms, and related conspiracy convictions. In this appeal, they challenge their convictions and seek a new trial.
Defendants argue that the district court committed reversible errors in handling the trial, including its evidentiary rulings and the sufficiency of evidence against them. They also contend that the exclusion of testimony intended to contradict government witnesses deprived them of their right to due process.
He was convicted of the murder of Aislin Silva
After a long trial, the jury found Paul A., John Jr., Pavone and DiCenso guilty of Racketeering and Witness Tampering. They were also found guilty of conspiracy to commit racketeering and of murder in the first degree.
The prosecution introduced physical evidence at trial that helped support DiCenso’s testimony. Specifically, bloody plastic bags and duffle bags were discovered in and around a dumpster at a Danvers car wash after the murder.
In addition, the police recovered several guns from Silva’s apartment. These included two MAC-11s (submachine guns), an Uzi (submachine gun) and another machine gun with a silencer.
DiCenso, Meuse and Capozzi then dismembered Silva’s body in her bathtub, stuffed the remains into trash bags, and carried her body north. The three then drove to a Home Depot, purchased lime and a shovel, buried her remains in the woods along the North Shore, and disposed of the evidence in a dumpster and at a car wash.
He was convicted of the murder of James “Whitey” Bulger
Bulger was a famous Boston gangster who eluded capture for 16 years. He was eventually captured in Santa Monica, California with his girlfriend Catherine Greig in June 2011.
In 2013, he was convicted of 11 murders and other crimes. He was sentenced to two consecutive life terms.
A video surveillance camera at the Hazelton federal prison in West Virginia showed two men going into Bulger’s cell after all the cell doors were unlocked ahead of breakfast. It took them seven minutes to murder Bulger.
The inmates were Fotios “Freddy” Geas, a mob hitman, and Paul J. DeCologero, a mobsters’ associate.
DeCologero also prosecutors said was involved in other organized crime activities, including drug dealing. According to prosecutors, Geas and DeCologero beat Bulger with a padlock stuffed into a sock.
He was convicted of stealing firearms
During his trial for racketeering charges, Paul A. and his associates, including John Jr., were convicted of stealing firearms from a gun store and selling them to drug dealers in exchange for drugs and money.
The guns that were stolen in this robbery included an AK-47 (assault rifle), an AR-15 (semi-automatic rifle), and a Desert Eagle (semi-automatic pistol). In addition to these weapons, there was a box of hand grenades.
This was one of several robberies in which the crew targeted drug dealers in their territory and beat them up or stole their property. In October 1996, they targeted Michael “Slim” Stevens, who was selling marijuana in their territory.
When Stevens was taken to a townhouse, Paul A. gave the other crew members, including Derek Capozzi and Thomas Regan, guns to rob him. They beat Stevens up and threatened to cut off his ear with a knife. He eventually turned over what he had and led them to a stash of marijuana in his house.