In March 1970, Patriarca and several of his associates went on trial for murder and conspiracy to commit murder, the chief witness being robber and hitman John "Red" Kelley, who afterwards went into the federal witness protection program. Kelley gave testimony linking Patriarca and other family members to the murder of Rudolph "Rudy" Marfeo and Anthony Melei. Kelley had been contracted by Patriarca to kill Marfeo.
Patriarca and his associates were convicted of conspiracy to commit murder; associate Maurice Lerner also was convicted of murder. The mob boss was sentenced to 10 years in prison, but he continued to run his family while imprisoned. Lerner and the other defendants were subsequently exonerated when it was established that Kelley had perjured himself at the trial, as had FBI agent H. Paul Rico, who had corroborated Kelley's testimony.