FBI’s Legacy of Shame

Timeline of the FBI’s four-decades long cover-up of complicity in Edward Deegan’s murder, and the agencies frame-up of four innocent men

By Hans Sherrer

Justice:Denied magazine, Issue 27, Winter 2005, page 24

Boston Four Wrongly Convicted in 1968
1964 – Boston FBI agent H. Paul Rico wrote in an October 19, 1964, memorandum that an informant reported Edward “Teddy” Deegan, a local hoodlum, was marked for a mob hit. “A memorandum from the Boston Office of the FBI to the Director of the FBI [J. Edgar Hoover] dated March 10, 1965, disclosed an informant’s report that [Vincent “Jimmy The Bear”] Flemmi and [Joseph] Barboza had contacted [Raymond] Patriarca to get his “OK” to kill Deegan. That same day, another informant told Rico that Flemmi believed Patriarca approved the “hit” and that a “dry run” had been made. Neither Rico, Condon, Handley, nor any other FBI agents warned Deegan or took steps to prevent their informants, Flemmi and Barboza, from carrying out the plan.” 1

1965 - Edward Deegan was shot to death in a Chelsea, Massachusetts alley on March 12th – two days after FBI Director Hoover had been informed he was marked for death, and did nothing to warn him or otherwise protect him.

1965 - An FBI memo dated March 19, 1965 (seven days after Deegan’s murder), notes:
“Informants report that Ronald Casessa, Romeo Martin, Vincent James Flemmi, and Joseph Barboza, prominent local hoodlums, were responsible for the [Deegan] killing. They accomplished this by having Roy French, another Boston hoodlum, set Deegan up in a proposed ‘breaking and entering’ in Chelsea, Mass. French apparently walked in behind Deegan when they were gaining entrance to the building and fired the first shot hitting Deegan in the back of the head. Casessa and Martin immediately thereafter shot Deegan from the front. The State and Chelsea Police Departments had reports similar to those discussed above.” 2

1965 - FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover was sent a memo dated June 9, 1965 by the FBI agent in charge of he Boston office identifying Flemmi as the murderer of seven men, including Deegan. The memo stated, “From all indications, (Jimmy The Bear) is going to continue to commit murder. ... The informant’s potential outweighs the risks.” 3

1967 - Six men were indicted in Suffolk County, Massachusetts (Boston) for Deegan’s murder, however the FBI informant known by the bureau to be one of the actual killers – Vincent Flemmi – was not indicted.

1968 – On July 31st Louis Greco, Henry Tameleo and Peter Limone were convicted of Deegan’s murder and sentenced to death. Joseph Salvati was sentenced to life in prison after being convicted as an accessory to Deegan’s murder and two counts of conspiracy. The jury didn’t believe multiple witnesses who testified that Greco was in Miami at the time of Deegan’s murder – which the FBI knew was true. The prosecution’s star witness was Joseph Barboza, an FBI informant and one of the people known by the FBI to have been present at Deegan’s killing.

1968 - On August 1st, FBI agent Rico bragged at a mob party in Boston about how easy it was to convict the “four pigeons” - Greco, Tameleo, Salvati and Limone - and he thought “it was funny” that Greco was sentenced to death when the FBI knew he was over 1,500 miles away in Miami when Deegan was murdered..

1972 - Greco, Tameleo and Limone’s death sentences are commuted to life in prison in the wake of the U.S. Supreme Court’s Furman v. Georgia (1972) decision.

1977 - Attorney John Cavicchi began efforts to clear Greco. Those efforts continued until Greco’s death 18 years later in 1995. Cavicchi then began aiding Limone.

1983 – In August the Massachusetts Advisory Board of Pardons recommended gubernatorial commutation of Limone’s sentence. Limone’s petition was supported by Deegan’s family, who believed he was innocent. However, “FBI agents … then channeled false information to the office of the Governor to dissuade him from approving the commutation petition. It worked. On September 20, 1983, Governor Dukakis denied Limone’s petition.” 4

1985 - After the FBI funneled false information to the governor’s office, Governor Dukakis denied Greco’s commutation that had been recommended by the Massachusetts Advisory Board of Pardons.

1985 - Henry Tameleo died in prison of respiratory failure in August. He had been imprisoned for 17 years. Tameleo was 84, and the oldest prisoner in the Massachusetts state prison system at the time of his death.

1986 - After the FBI provides it with false information, the Advisory Board of Pardons rescinds its vote approving a commutation hearing for Salvati.

1993 - The Suffolk County District Attorney’s Office ignores information provided by a Massachusetts’ State Trooper that Salvati had been framed for Deegan’s murder.

1993 - After the FBI funneled false information to the governor’s office, Governor Weld denied Greco’s commutation that had been recommended by the Massachusetts Advisory Board of Pardons.

1995 - Greco dies in prison from colon cancer and heart disease after 27 years of incarceration.

1997 - Louis Greco Jr., one of Greco’s sons, commits suicide by drinking a bottle of Drano.

1997 - Salvati is released after 30 years of incarceration when Massachusetts’ governor commutes his life sentence to time served. Salvati’s wife Marie visited him every week he was imprisoned, and she was waiting when he was released.

2000 - In December a Justice Department investigation into FBI corruption uncovers secret FBI informant files that contain information concerning the FBI’s prior knowledge that Deegan was marked for a hit by FBI informants, that the FBI didn’t try to warn or otherwise protect Deegan, that Deegan’s murder was carried out by FBI informants, and that four men known by the FBI to be innocent – Greco, Limone, Tameleo and Salvati – were framed for the murder with the complicity of the FBI. The FBI documents show that Limone had actually tried to protect Deegan by warning him that he was in danger.

2001 - Limone’s conviction is vacated in January and he is released after 33 years, 2 months and 5 days imprisonment. He is 66.

2001 - Salvati’s conviction is vacated in January.

2001 - Limone, Greco’s son, and relatives of Tameleo file separate federal lawsuits against multiple state and federal defendants for wrongful imprisonment, malicious prosecution, violation of their civil rights, etc. Limone’s suit asks for a $300 million in damages, and Greco’s asks for $75 million.

2002 - Salvati filed $300 million federal lawsuit against multiple state and federal defendants for wrongful imprisonment, malicious prosecution, violation of his civil rights, etc.

2003 – In June, Boston U.S. District Court Judge Nancy Gertner rejected a motion to dismiss filed by the defendants in Limone’s suit. The motion  argued the decisions leading to Limone’s indictment and conviction were judgment calls immune from a lawsuit. In rejecting the motion, Judge Gertner wrote, “‘Obviously conduct cannot be ‘discretionary’ if it violates the constitution, federal laws, or established agency policies and regulations. ‘There can be no doubt that suborning perjury and fabricating evidence violate the constitution.’” 5

2003 – In November an almost 150-page report by the House Government Reform Committee was released after a two-year congressional investigation into the FBI and its connections to the New England Mafia. The report condemned the FBI’s use of known murderers as informants, the FBI’s shielding of those murderers from prosecution, and the FBI’s use of perjurious testimony by murderers to knowingly convict innocent people. The report concluded that the FBI’s efforts “must be considered one of the greatest failures in the history of federal law enforcement.” 6

2004 –Edward “Teddy” Deegan’s younger brother and his two daughters filed lawsuits against the federal government. They claimed damages for the government’s complicity in his murder, including Director Hoover’s being informed two days prior to his death that he was marked for death and doing nothing to stop the killers - who were FBI informants - or to warn or otherwise protect Deegan. Paul F. Denver, the attorney for Deegan’s daughters, said “The government owes the daughters compensation for the wrongful death of their father because agents knew there was a threat against their father’s life and took no steps to prevent the death of Teddy Deegan,” 7

2004 –In September a Massachusetts state judge posthumously vacated Greco’s conviction. The lawyer representing Greco’s family said, “This was an innocent man who was framed, and the most amazing part is the government knew it.” 8

2004 –Federal Judge Gertner ruled on September 17th that the federal lawsuits related to the four men can go forward, since their causes of action that began in 1968, continued after enactment of a 1974 law that eliminated the federal government’s immunity from lawsuits for wrongdoing by federal agents. In her decision, Judge Gertner didn’t mince words, “… the state prosecution of Limone, Greco, Salvati, and Tameleo was procured by the FBI and nurtured by both federal agents and state officers who knew that the charges were bogus. None of the agents or supervisors involved took steps to stop the prosecution. Indeed, they did just the opposite.” 9

Hoover's Crony Laughed When Greco Was Senenced To Death Row

FBI To Be Sued for $300 million, Talkleft.com website, August 25, 2002.
Suffolk DA clears Greco posthumously on 1965 murder rap, by J.M. Lawrence, Boston Herald, November 4, 2004
Reports: ex-trooper had information to clear Salvati, by J. M. Lawrence, Boston Herald, June 13, 2003.
Limone, et al v. United States, Civ. No. 02-10890-NG (DC MA), MEMORANDUM AND ORDER RE: MOTIONS TO DISMISS, September 17, 2004
1 Limone, et al v. United States, Civ. No. 02-10890-NG (DC MA), MEMORAN-DUM AND ORDER RE: MOTIONS TO DISMISS, September 17, 2004, at 7-8.
2 Limone, Id., at 8-9.
3 Devilish deal: Probers Unveil Memo Show-ing Boston FBI Protected Killer, by J.M. Lawrence, Boston Herald, May 12, 2002.
4 Limone, supra,, at 13.
5 Judge Rules Lawsuit Alleging FBI Frameup Can Proceed, AP, July 18, 2003.
6 Report: FBI Shielded Killers, Washing-ton D.C., CBS News.com, November 21, 2003.
7 Some Wonder Does FBI Still Stand For Fi-delity, Bravery, Integrity?, Newswithviews.com, October 5, 2004.
8 District attorney’s office drops charges posthumously in frame-up related to New England mob, Associated Press, Boston Herald, November 4, 2004
9 Limone, supra, at 11.