Wrongly Jailed Man Gets Apology
By KEN MAGUIRE
WASHINGTON (AP) - A House panel investigating the shady relationship between the Boston FBI office and its mob informants apologized Thursday to a man who spent 30 years in prison for a murder he didn't commit.
Joseph Salvati was convicted of the 1965 murder of Edward ``Teddy'' Deegan in Chelsea, Mass., and remained in prison until his sentence was commuted in 1997. He and a co-defendant were exonerated this year.
Members of the House Government Reform Committee told Salvati and his wife, Marie, there is no excuse for what the government did.
``I want to express to both of you how deeply sorry we are for everything that was taken away from you and everything you've had to go through the last 30 years,'' said committee chairman Dan Burton, R-Ind.
Salvati, 68, and Peter J. Limone, 66, were exonerated after a judge concluded that FBI agents hid evidence that would have proven their innocence. The FBI protected informants who helped them bring down top New England mobsters and manipulated testimony in their 1968 murder trial.
``This is a story that needs to be told,'' Salvati testified. ``The government stole more than 30 years of my life.''
The hearing included testimony from famed lawyer F. Lee Bailey and one of the two former FBI agents accused of hiding evidence that would have proven Salvati's innocence.
Bailey testified that he believes the FBI coached Joseph ``The Animal'' Barboza - the prosecution's key witness - on how to lie on the witness stand.
``He told me he had quite a bit of help,'' Bailey said of Barboza, who he briefly represented in 1970, when Barboza signed an affidavit recanting his story. ``I believe the testimony was furnished.''
Rep. Christopher Shays, R-Conn., told Salvati he was ``profoundly sorry'' for what happened.
There was no such regret, however, from former FBI Agent H. Paul Rico, who said Salvati's ordeal would ``be a nice movie.''
``Remorse - for what? Would you like tears or something?'' he said. ``I believe the FBI handled it properly.''
Rico, whose attorney advised him to invoke his Fifth Amendment rights, said he was not convinced of Salvati's innocence until hearing him testify Thursday.
Secret reports written by Rico showed informants told FBI
plans for the slaying before Deegan was killed and provided names of
involved. Salvati and Limone's names were not included and the reports
were never made
``I think you should be prosecuted,'' Shays told Rico. ``I think you should be sent to jail.''
The Salvati case is the first of several hearings the committee plans to hold as it investigates the FBI's use of informants.
Burton called for hearings after learning of the case and of federal indictments charging alleged mobsters James ``Whitey'' Bulger and Stephen ``The Rifleman'' Flemmi with about 20 murders and allegations that FBI agents covered up their crimes to protect their prized informants.
Bulger, 71, and Flemmi, 63, allegedly were allowed to conduct crimes, including murders, while informing FBI agents about rival mobsters over several decades. Flemmi is awaiting trial, and Bulger remains at large and is on the FBI's Ten Most Wanted list.
Ex-FBI agent John J. Connolly has been charged with racketeering and obstruction of justice for his handling of Bulger and Flemmi.
A Justice Department task force is currently investigating the
Truth in Justice