Prosecutors want accused Boston mobster to shave beard

Oct. 2, 2013 at 12:53 PM

BOSTON, Oct. 2 (UPI) -- U.S. prosecutors have asked a Boston judge to order an accused mobster to shave his beard so witnesses who saw him "before he was a fugitive" may recognize him.

Enrico Ponzo, who has a marked cleft chin, was clean-shaven during his years in Boston, but he spent many years as a fugitive and was living as bearded cattle rancher Jeffrey John Shaw when he was arrested in 2011 in Marsing, Idaho, the Boston Herald reported Wednesday.

Ponzo's lawyer, John Cunha Jr., who opposes the prosecution motion, calls it "hilarious." The issue is expected to be debated at a pretrial hearing Thursday.

Ponzo, 45, faces a long list of charges, including the attempted murder of "Cadillac Frank" Salemme in 1989, racketeering, witness tampering and money laundering.

Investigators say they found $167,000 in cash and gold on his Idaho ranch along with an arsenal of guns and thousands of rounds of ammunition.

"It could be extremely difficult for witnesses who knew Ponzo only before he became a fugitive to recognize Ponzo without seeing his noticeably cleft chin," prosecutors said in court documents supporting the motion.

Gerard Leone, a former federal prosecutor and Middlesex County district attorney, said requests like the one in the Ponzo case are unusual but judges have the discretion to order defendants who have altered their appearance by changes in hair style or facial hair to undo the changes.

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