Boston Herald

Suffolk DA clears Greco posthumously on 1965 murder rap
By J.M. Lawrence
Thursday, November 4, 2004

Louis Greco died behind bars for murder after maintaining his innocence for 30 years.

Now the Suffolk District Attorney's office finally believes him.

Greco, a World War II veteran hobbled by a shot to the ankle in the Philippines, always claimed he was in Florida on March 12, 1965, when the mob shot Edward Deegan in a Chelsea alley. He passed three polygraphs and won two commutations that were never acted upon by former governors.

Louis Greco
Louis Greco

 In a motion quietly filed in Suffolk Superior Court in September, the DA's office finally acknowledged what new testimony and secret FBI memos uncovered recently have revealed. Greco was framed by mob hit man-turned-government witness Joseph Barboza.

``It appears that justice may not have been done,'' Assistant DA Mark Lee said in the motion to drop all charges against Greco posthumously. The motion cites ``legal and ethical considerations raised by the newly discovered FBI documents, as well as principles of consistency and fundamental fairness'' as the reasons.

The DA's office dropped the charges against Greco's co-defendants Peter J. Limone and Joseph Salvati in January 2001. Limone was released after 33 years behind bars. Salvati was in prison for 30.

For Greco's family and friends, the DA's motion is a mere formality in a long battle to clear Greco's name and seek compensation from the FBI for backing perjured testimony in the case.

``Big (expletive) deal,'' said one longtime friend of Greco's about the move to drop the charges.

The Justice Department refuses to settle the lawsuits filed by Greco's estate, Limone and Salvati. The government has argued it can't be held responsible for the actions of FBI agents under tort laws in effect in the 1960s.

Former New England Mafia leader Francis P. Salemme told congressional investigators that former FBI agent Dennis Condon met with him after the Deegan verdict in 1968 and laughed about setting up Greco.

Greco was 78 when he died in a prison hospital in 1995 from colon cancer and heart disease. He suffered horribly, according to the suit filed by his son, Edward Greco. He could not get proper care for his diabetes and lost a leg to amputation.

His sons grew up without their father and watched him deteriorate in prison. Both men fell into deep depressions as adults. Louis Greco Jr. committed suicide by drinking a bottle of Drano in 1997, court papers said.

Attorney Howard Friedman, who represents Edward Greco, said the DA's decision to drop the charges will aid his lawsuit.

``He knew his father didn't do it,'' Friedman said. ``This was an innocent man who was framed, and the most amazing part is the government knew it.''

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