Patriarca was born to an Italian immigrant father in Worcester, Massachusetts; his mother was born in Massachusetts, according to the 1930 census. He was charged during his teenage years for hijacking, armed robbery, assault, safecracking, and auto theft. He was indicted as being an accessory to murder before Prohibition's end in 1933.
Raymond Patriarca's Providence Police photo
During the 1930s, the Providence Board of Public Safety named Patriarca as "Public enemy No. 1". He was sentenced to five years in prison for robbery, but he was paroled in 1938 after serving just a few months in prison. An inquiry revealed that Executive Councilor Daniel H. Coakley, a close associate of Governor Charles F. Hurley, had drawn up a parole petition based on the appeals of a "Father Fagin", whom Coakley had fabricated. Coakley was impeached and dismissed from the Governor's office. This scandal enhanced Patriarca's reputation in the underworld, as it demonstrated the power of his political connections.