A reputed New England mobster who hid out in Idaho raising cows for more than a decade pleaded not guilty Friday to almost a dozen federal charges, including plotting to kill a former mob boss.
Enrico Ponzo, 42, entered his pleas in U.S. District Court in Worcester after federal authorities brought him back to Massachusetts.
Ponzo was arrested last month at his home in Marsing, Idaho. The FBI said he had been living there at least a decade since fleeing Boston in 1994 to avoid state drug charges.
While he was on the lam in 1997, Ponzo was indicted on more serious federal charges, including an attempt to kill former mob boss Francis "Cadillac Frank" Salemme outside a pancake house in Saugus.
Authorities said Ponzo had been living a quiet life under the assumed name of "Jeffrey Shaw" in Marsing, a farm town west of Boise. He was described by neighbors as hardworking and a proud father of two children.
In court Friday, Ponzo replied "not guilty, your honor" as he denied 10 charges included in the 1997 indictment. He smiled and spoke briefly with his sister as he was led out of court in handcuffs.
"Bye, sis, nice to see you," he said, smiling.
Afterward, his sister, Alexa Divadkar, said she hadn't seen or spoken with her brother in about 20 years.
She said she and her brother didn't see each other much after he went to live with their father at the age of 13. She said her father always told her that her brother had been framed by a police officer who didn't like him.
Divadkar, who lives in Swampscott, said she does not believe the accusations.
"The only thing I know is that he's been living in Idaho raising cows and he has a family," she said.
The FBI said a search of his home in Idaho turned up 38 guns, $15,000 in cash and at least 50 books and manuals describing ways to create aliases and false identification.
His attorney, David Duncan, declined to comment.
Ponzo and 14 others were indicted by a grand jury investigating organized crime. He was allegedly part of a faction within the Patriarca crime family that wanted to stop Salemme from becoming mob boss.
In 1989, Salemme was shot in the leg and chest outside the International House of Pancake in Saugus. He survived and went on to head the crime family.
In the indictment, Ponzo and Vincent Marino, also known as Gigi Portalla, are named as the shooters in the attempted killing of Salemme. Marino is now serving a 35-year sentence.
Charges against Ponzo include conspiracy to murder, federal racketeering, conspiracy to distribute cocaine and firearms counts. He faces a sentence of up to life in prison if convicted.