Associated Press

Mafia boss rats on FBI in interview transcript

WASHINGTON -- New England-based FBI agents gloated about framing six men for a 1965 gangland murder in Boston, according to a Congressional transcript released Thursday that highlights the pervasive and deadly relationships law enforcement officers had with their mob informants.

In gritty and blunt details, New England Mafia boss Francis "Cadillac Frank" Salemme painted an unsettling picture of FBI agents protecting their mob informants, warning them of indictments and, at times, helping them murder troublesome enemies.

The wide-ranging interview done last summer reveals that deceased FBI agent H. Paul Rico helped Salemme set up a murder, and later warned him to leave town to avoid an impending indictment.

Salemme also gave lawmakers firsthand testimony that Rico and another agent, Dennis Condon, were "ecstatic" that six men, including Louie Greco and Joseph Salvati, were wrongly convicted for gunning down small-time hoodlum Edward "Teddy" Deegan.

"(Condon) made the statement, 'I wonder how Louie Greco likes it on death row, and he wasn't even there,'" said Salemme.

Rico had denied he helped frame innocent men for the murder.

Salvati served 30 years in prison, but was cleared in 2001 after the Justice Department released documents showing that FBI agents protecting their informants suppressed evidence that the murder was committed by members of the Winter Hill Gang, led by James "Whitey" Bulger.

Salemme also said Rico slipped him an address for a rival gang member, Edward "Punchy" McLaughlin, allowing Salemme and Stephen "The Rifleman" Flemmi to find him and kill him.

"We killed him at eight o'clock in the morning at a bus stop there, but that was a very, very important piece of information," said Salemme.

Salemme said mobsters like Flemmi became informants because it allowed them to keep up their life of crime and be shielded from prosecution.

"It gave (Flemmi) that sense of security that he could continue his criminal activity and all he had to do was give up on jerks like me and he'd be all set," Salemme said.

The interview, conducted in secret as part of Congress' investigation into the FBI's use of mob informants, was sealed until now because Rico was facing a murder trial in Oklahoma. But Rico died last month before the trial began, enabling Congress to release the transcript.

The 154-page transcript, said House Government Reform Committee Chairman Tom Davis, will give the public "further insight into the improper, indeed, criminal relationship between Boston FBI agents and their murderous informants."

Rep. John Tierney, D-Mass., said the transcript is "evidence of how really bad the situation really was between the FBI and members of the gang." He said the committee should hold more hearings to determine what more the FBI has done to correct the problems.

Salemme, who is in the federal witness protection program, was granted immunity to testify before the committee. Also granted immunity was former University of Massachusetts president William Bulger, whose brother, Whitey is on the FBI's Top Ten Most Wanted List and has been a fugitive since 1995.

Flemmi recently pleaded guilty to racketeering charges involving 10 murders.

Police/Prosecutor Misconduct
Truth in Justice