FBI To Be Sued for $300 million

Joseph Salvati spent 30 years in prison for a murder he did not commit. The New York Times reports today that he has provided notice to the Department of Justice that he will sue the F.B.I. for $300 million.

The unusual part about his case is that the FBI, including J. Edgar Hoover, knew Salvati didn't commit the murder and let him languish in jail anyway. They were protecting their informants.

"The Federal Bureau of Investigation had evidence ahead of time that two well-known gangsters were planning a murder and that the head of the New England Mafia was involved."

"But when indictments in the case were handed down in 1967, the real killers — who also happened to be informers for the F.B.I. — were left alone. Four other men were tried, convicted and sentenced to death or life in prison for the murder, though they had had nothing to do with it."

Mr. Salvati's case "is the latest in a series of lawsuits against the F.B.I., the Justice Department and some F.B.I. agents growing out of the tangled, corrupt collaboration between gangsters and the F.B.I.'s Boston office in its effort to bring down the mob."

"The lawsuits are based on evidence uncovered in the last five years in a judicial hearing and a Justice Department inquiry. The documents show that officials at F.B.I. headquarters, apparently including Mr. Hoover, knew as long ago as 1965 that Boston agents were employing killers and gang leaders as informers and were protecting them from prosecution."

The new investigation has already taken down one retired agent, John J. Connolly. A jury recently convicted Connolly on racketeering and obstruction of justice charges for helping two other mob leaders who were F.B.I. informers, James Bulger and Stephen Flemmi. He is awaiting sentencing.

Salvati had his sentence commuted in 1997, and the murder charges were officially dismissed against him last year.

Two of his innocent but convicted co-defendants were not so lucky. They died in jail.

The fourth defendant, Peter Limone, was sentenced to die in the electric chair. His death sentence was overturned in 1974 when Massachussetts abolished its death penalty.

Limone and survivors of the two who died in prison have sued the FBI for $375 million.

There's one more unusual aspect to Mr. Salvati's case: His wife Marie stood by him during the 30 years he spent in prison and visited him every week.

The Salvatis now reside in a modest apartment in Boston's North End.

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