The combat zone

By TOM SHEEHAN  |  August 14, 2008

But despite difficulties in obtaining information, in addition to Savino, three other groups appear to control most of the Combat Zone’s operations.

The first group, say the sources, is the Venius Brothers – Teddy and Louie – who allegedly got their start in what is called the treasury racket, a gaming operation similar to the numbers.

Although their names do not appear on any available public records, the Venius Brothers are reported to control the Two O’Clock Lounge 642 Washington St.; the Picc-A-Dilly 657 Washington St.; the Twin-X Cinema 669-675 Washington St.; the Capri Theatre 701 Washington St.; Jerome’s Lounge 666 Washington St.; and a “live model” studio over the Twin-X.

The brothers are reportedly interested in opening another establishment in Park Square, according to Boston Police.

A second group of brothers, the Balliros, run the Intermission Lounge (663 Washington) and have a piece of the Attic Lounge (103 Stewart) and the Champagne Room (227 Tremont) according to the source.

One of the brothers, Joe “Da Gangster,” is currently serving time on a federal charge of receiving stolen goods. Another, Rocco, is doing time for murder.

The Balliros are often represented in their legal entanglements by a cousin, Joe “Da Lawyer.”

And finally there is Joseph N. Palladino of Saugus, Massachusetts’ king of porn. Operating under several corporate names, Palladino is responsible for distributing most of the pornographic literature in the state, transporting it here by truck from New York.

There is reason to believe that Palladino is Mob-connected, according to one police source. In 1970 he set up a company called United Books, Inc., along with one Carlo Mastrototaro.

Mastrototaro, who the source identified as “up there on any Mob list,” is currently serving time after conviction in a stolen bonds case.

In addition to supplying most of the “adult” bookstores in Boston, Palladino is reported to own several in the Combat Zone, but no available records indicate such ownership on Palladino’s part.

But in many cases ownership records for the bookstores appear to be non-existent.

Just how deeply the Mob is involved in backing the Combat Zone operations is a prime question for police investigators. The evidence, at this point, appears inconclusive.

“Our guess,” said one pertinent Boston police officer, “is that Mafia money is indirectly involved with all of them, but it’s very hard to track down.”

“The way it works,” said the source, “is that they operate on borrowed money.”

Or at least, suggested another police source, that’s the way it works in some cases.

“It appears to be a mishmash kind of thing,” said this source. “There’s some open operators, some front men, some who seem to be in it just by tradition.”

Unmishing the mash, even in cases where records of corporate owners are available, can prove a difficult task. Shortly after the recent Supreme Court ruling, Suffolk County District Attorney Garrett Byrne’s office confiscated a film being shown at the Capri Theatre on Washington Street.

Police say the Capri is run by the Venius Brothers. Officially, though, the president, treasurer, clerk and manager of Capri Enterprises is one Aristedes Poravas of Watertown. So when the theatre asked for the confiscated film back, claiming it had no other copy, it was Poravas who showed up at the court hearing.

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Related: Maine tortures women, too, Menino’s hit list, Clampdown at the Providence Police Department, More more >
  Topics: Flashbacks , Law, Boston Police Department, Garrett Byrne,  More more >
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 See all articles by: TOM SHEEHAN