U.S. Lets $101 Million Verdict Stand Over FBI Frame in Mob Slaying Case
Solicitor General Elena Kagan has let the time pass for appealing (seeking Supreme Court review) of a historic $101 million verdict for civil rights violations in a lawsuit against the FBI for framing four men from Boston for a mob slaying. The government will pay up.
Josesph Salvati, now 77, served 29 years in prison. He will get $31 million, plus another $2 million in interest.
DOJ tried to get Kagan to seek review but she refused, siding with the wrongfully convicted men. The verdict was rendered by U.S. District Court Judge Nancy Gertner, following a 22 day bench trial. [More....]
In a dramatic ruling on July 26, 2007, Gertner found the FBI “responsible for the framing of four innocent men’’ in the 1965 murder of a small-time criminal, Edward “Teddy’’ Deegan, in a Chelsea alley.
She concluded after a 22-day bench trial that the FBI deliberately withheld evidence of the four men’s innocence and helped conceal the injustice for decades.
The other men are Peter J. Limone of Medford and the families of Louis Greco and Henry Tameleo, who died in prison after serving decades of their sentences. Their convictions were set aside posthumously.
This case is especially outrageous because the FBI knew the real killer likely was one of their informants, Vincent “Jimmy the Bear" Flemmi, and allowed another informant to frame the four innocent men, even though they believed he was lying to protect Flemmi. There is a lot of evidence the FBI knew Flemmi intended to make the hit days before it happened and still accepted him as an informant two days before Flemmi killed Deegan.
On March 10, 1965 H. Paul Rico filed a report quoting an informant as saying that Vincent was going to murder Edward Deegan and that a "dry run has already been made and that a close associate of Deegan's has agreed to set him up." Two days later, despite their knowledge of the impending murder of Deegan, the Boston FBI office approved Vincent as an informant and assigned him to the agent who had recruited him, H. Paul Rico.
And that the night of the hit, the FBI had pictures of the shooters and still allowed the four innocent men to be charged.
Flemmi died of a heroin overdose in prison in 1979 while serving a sentence related to another murder.
Another twist: Flemmi's brother was Stephen Flemmi, also a member of Boston's Winter Hill Mob and an FBI informant. In 2004, the FBI agent who reported Jimmy did the Boston hit, H. Paul Rico, retired and aged 78, was charged in a 20 year old Tulsa murder case. The hit was allegedly committed by Stephen Flemmi and another informant from the gang, who had been working for Rico at the time. Rico was arrested in Miami, extradited to Tulsa where he arrived in very bad shape (practically incoherent and in a wheelchair) and his lawyer said he had been attacked while in the Miami jail awaiting extradition. He had a bad heart. His lawyer asked for bail.
Tulsa prosecutors pooh-poohed the beating claim, and argued he was probably bruised from his medication. The judge put the case on hold, ordered Rico held pending a psych evaluation to determine if he was fit to stand trial. A few hours later, Rico was dead.
Ultimately, two of the three informants charged in the Tulsa case pleaded guilty.(The third is still a fugitive.) One was Stephen Flemmi, who pleaded guilty to racketeering charges related to 10 murders, not just the Tulsa one. In a package deal, he got life. The DOJ announcement is here.
The second FBI informant who pleaded guilty to carrying out the Tulsa murder (and 19 others), got 15 years and served 12 before being released. Then, the pair cooperated again, testifying against FBI Agent John Connolly who was charged in another murder case. Connolly insisted he was innocent. What did Flemmi get for saying otherwise? It's not clear, but he's in the witness protection protection at whatever prison he's in. Maybe conditions are nicer there. He's now 76.
Connolly got 40 years, on top of 10 for racketeering, which he is now serving. (Even though the statute of limitations had expired for Murder 2, the crime he was convicted of, another bizarre twist to this tale.)
Snitching is a dirty business and as these three cases show, it's not just the snitches who are morally bankrupt, the whole system is infected. And we, the taxpayers, will be footing the $101 million bill our government pays to the four framed men (and yes, they totally deserve the money.) Too bad jurors don't get to hear about these cases when prosecutors justify their snitch testimony with trite lines like "Crimes committed in hell don't have angels as witnesses." The truth is more like "Lie down with dogs and get up with fleas."
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