The Illusionist

By Paul Kix | Boston Magazine |

Shaw and Pace argued through their lawyers for months about visitation, childcare payments, everything. Once, when Clapier asked Shaw how he was doing, his friend just sobbed. Shaw lost a lot of weight, and his mood would turn so dark so often that Verceles once made him promise not to discuss the case in public just so everyone’s day could be salvaged.  

Shaw tried to focus on other parts of his life. He took great pride in his cows. Which is what led him to flag down old Bob Briggs’s truck on the afternoon of February 8. Shaw’s cows needed hay, and Briggs had some for sale. It was then, of course, that Shaw was taken away in handcuffs by U.S. marshals.

THE NIGHT OF SHAW’S ARREST, Bodie Clapier’s phone rang. It was Kathleen Kreller, a reporter for the Idaho Statesman newspaper.

“Do you know someone named Enrico Ponzo?” Kreller asked.

“No,” Clapier said.

“What about Jeffrey John Shaw?”

He thought about it for a second. “Do you mean Jay Shaw?”

Yeah, Kreller said.

Clapier explained that Shaw was his friend. He’d known him for years.

Actually, it turned out, he hadn’t known him at all. Kreller explained that Shaw’s real name was Enrico Ponzo, and the FBI believed he was a member of the Mafia. He was from Boston, and in 1997 he’d been indicted on charges including extortion, racketeering, drug dealing, and the attempted murder of a mob boss.

What?” Clapier said. “You’ve got to be kidding me.”

The next day the story ran on the front page of the Statesman. Clapier read it with disbelief. Jay Shaw — the guy who stayed home to raise his kids — that guy had dealt drugs and tried to kill a mob boss? Maybe so: Law enforcement officials had found a safe in his bedroom containing $15,000 in cash, a silver bar, ammunition, and 38 weapons. To Clapier, the whole thing seemed surreal.

The following day, Jessie Jackson drove the half-hour to Boise, where Shaw was to appear in court. She wanted to see for herself if her friend Jay Shaw would admit to another identity, another life. He stood shackled before the judge and said, “My name is Enrico M. Ponzo.”


Listen to Paul Kix as he talks about his experiences researching Enrico Ponzo and reveals snippets of his interviews from his Idaho visit. 

  • Idella Tanna

    This is one of the best posts I have seen on this topic. Let me know if you do any further related posts and I’ll come check them out!