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The Cardiologist and the Mafia Gangster

Discussion in 'Cardiology' started by Hadeel Abdelkariem, Oct 29, 2019.

  1. Hadeel Abdelkariem

    Hadeel Abdelkariem Golden Member

    Apr 1, 2018
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    Barbara Roberts, MD, then a 36-year-old cardiologist, was fearful and anxious when she entered the Rhode Island police barracks to meet Raymond Patriarca Sr, head of the notorious New England mafia crime family. Patriarca had indictments for drug trafficking, racketeering, armed robbery, white slavery, and loan sharking and had allegedly ordered several murders. J. Edgar Hoover called him "Boston's toughest hoodlum."


    Barbara Roberts, MD, and Raymond Patriarca Sr. Shutterstock

    Yet Roberts had agreed to undertake his medical care. He had a long history of heart disease, heart attacks, angina, and diabetes and had developed osteomyelitis after suffering the amputation of a gangrenous toe. This was 1980, and that decision would change the course of her life.

    "I had heard so much about Ray Patriarca and seen him on television testifying over the years," Roberts told Medscape Medical News. "I had the typical picture of a mob boss that everyone did at that time: Marlon Brando, Don Corleone. But when I first laid eyes on him, I thought, Oh my god, he's so tiny!"

    Roberts realized that Patriarca needed immediate medical care. With the FBI bearing down, Roberts got Patriarca admitted to a hospital, and she repeatedly testified that he was unfit to stand trial. After he was released from the hospital, she made house calls.

    Her actions infuriated law enforcement officials. Ultimately, Roberts came to care about Patriarca, and he treated to her like a daughter.

    This formerly devout Catholic schoolgirl also carried on a secret love affair with Louis Manocchio, a handsome, high-ranking mob member who was convicted of a double murder and later became a top mafia boss.

    Different Worlds Collide
    How did this Ivy League–educated woman become involved with mob criminals?

    Roberts and Patriarca came from very different worlds. Roberts was the oldest of 10 children in a very religious family, with an emotionally abusive alcoholic father. "My dad worshipped priests and doctors, and only one of them was an option for me," she joked.

    Strong-willed Roberts went into medicine and graduated from Barnard College and Case Western Reserve School of Medicine. She rebelled against the church, rejecting their positions on abortion and women's rights. As a resident at Yale New Haven Hospital, she helped found the Women's National Abortion Action Coalition and was the keynote speaker at the first national pro-choice demonstration in Washington, DC, in November 1971.

    A twist of fate brought Roberts into contact with Patriarca. Through a physician colleague, Roberts became friendly with noted criminal defense attorney Jack Cicilline. That led to meeting Patriarca's son, Raymond Jr, who was dissatisfied with his father's medical care and asked Roberts to be his doctor.


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