Justice Dept. on Wrongful Convictions: "Not Our Problem"

Update: Judge Gertner to the Justice Department: Wrong again!

A federal judge today ordered the government to pay $101.7 million in the case of four men who spent decades in prison for a 1965 murder after the FBI withheld evidence of their innocence to protect an informant.
original post

Once again, our Justice Department is taking a position in court that has very little to do with justice. FBI agents allegedly knew that a witness in a state murder prosecution was being untruthful when he accused four men of participating in the murder, but they kept quiet because they wanted to protect an informant who was actually involved in the killing.

Two of the wrongfully convicted defendants and the families of two others who died in prison are suing the FBI for their decision to withhold evidence of their innocence.

The government argued that federal authorities had no duty to share information with state officials who prosecuted Limone, Salvati, Henry Tameleo and Louis Greco. Federal authorities cannot be held responsible for the results of a state prosecution, a Justice Department lawyer argued.

Accountability? Not in this government. Fortunately, an excellent federal judge, Nancy Gertner, is hearing the case. She'll soon decide whether the federal government should be held responsible for its conspiracy of silence.

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  • Display: Sort:
    "This" Government? (none / 0) (#2)
    by Strick on Thu Jul 26, 2007 at 01:32:20 PM EST
    Accountability? Not in this government.

    I'm confused.  This happened in 1965, right?  Anyone remember who was in office in 1965 (and yes, of course,I do).  

    Seems the FBI got up to some real shinanaghans under the then Attorney General and the one prior to him.

    But what has that got to do with this government?

    One is dead (none / 0) (#5)
    by txpublicdefender on Thu Jul 26, 2007 at 10:51:23 PM EST
    There were two main FBI agents involved.  One of them, H. Paul Rico, died in custody after he was charged with murder he allegedly conspired to commit with a couple of his former star informants, Bulger and Flemmi, after he had retired from the FBI.  (Interestingly, Jeralyn posted about his death a long time ago here, and was mad at the authorities for not letting the guy remain free pending trial considering his age.)  I think the other agent is still alive.  

    This case was an absolute outrage.  Not only did the FBI agents suborn their informants' perjury that resulted in three of the men being sentenced to death and one to life, but they actually knew from an illegal wiretap BEFORE the murder happened that it was being planned, and did nothing to stop it.  They also knew from the wiretap who the real killers were, and that one of the guys they framed was referenced on the wiretap as having warned the murder victim that someone (one of the real killers) was looking to have him killed.

    Sort of (none / 0) (#7)
    by txpublicdefender on Fri Jul 27, 2007 at 03:08:36 PM EST
    There were actually two others convicted with these four, and they were guilty.  The main orchestrator of the hit died years ago, as did the lying witness who was in on the hit, and had convicted of minor charges related to it as part of his deal.  I believe he was murdered.  In fact, during one of the framed men's many commutation petition processes, the FBI/DOJ sent word to the local DA that the lying witness and had been murdered and made veiled suggestions that the framed guy had somehow been responsible for it.

    FWIW, the FBI informant/perjurer was convicted of murder later, in California, for a crime he committed while in Witness Protection, but only of 2nd degree murder because the FBI went to the trial and testified for him, thus undermining the local prosecutor's case.