Tuesday, December 19, 2006
The Dark Side, FBI, Followed By The Noble Side of The FBI !!
Parole board member says FBI tried to intimidate him
By DENISE LAVOIE AP Legal Affairs Writer
BOSTON— A former member of the state Parole Board said Tuesday that two FBI agents tried to intimidate him into keeping a wrongly convicted man in prison for a 1960s gangland slaying.
Former Springfield Mayor Michael Albano, who served on the board from 1982 to 1994, testified in a lawsuit filed by the families of four men who say the FBI allowed them to be framed to protect a mobster informant.
Two of those men, Joseph Salvati and Peter Limone, spent more than 30 years in prison for the murder of Edward "Teddy" Deegan before being exonerated in 2001 when the Justice Department released documents showing the FBI withheld evidence from prosecutors that could have cleared the men so the agency could protect Vincent "Jimmy" Flemmi, an informant who actually committed the crime.
Louis Greco and Henry Tameleo, who were also convicted in Deegan's killing, died in prison.
Lawyers for the men's families asked Albano if the FBI, after being contacted by the parole board as it considered petitions to commute their sentences, ever turned over evidence it had that the men were not involved in the murder of Deegan.
"No such information was provided," Albano testified.
Albano also made a brief reference in his testimony to a 1983 "unannounced visit" from former FBI Agents John Connolly, (pic top middle and left), and John Morris, (pic top right), as the board was considering a petition to commute Limone's sentence.
He was not asked to provide details of the visit during his testimony. But outside the courtroom, Albano said Connolly and Morris urged him to vote against commuting Limone's sentence and said that if he voted in favor of commuting his sentence it could hurt his career.
"They intimidated me and tried to get me to change my vote," Albano told reporters. "They said this was a bad crime ... that these defendants should remain incarcerated for the rest of their lives."
"They also said it probably would not bode well for me, if I wanted to remain in public life, that this would not be a good vote for me," he said.
Albano said he later voted with the majority of the 7-member board to commute Limone's sentence, but Gov. Michael Dukakis denied the petition.
Connolly is now serving a 10-year federal prison sentence for racketeering, obstruction of justice and other charges for protecting members of Boston's Winter Hill Gang - including fugitive gangster James "Whitey" Bulger" - from prosecution while using them as FBI mob informants.
Connolly is awaiting trial on first-degree murder and conspiracy charges for allegedly providing information to members of the gang that led to the 1982 killing of former World Jai Alai President John Callahan.
Connolly's attorney, E. Peter Mullane, said Connolly denies the meeting described by Albano ever took place.
"John Connolly never met Mr. Albano under any circumstance, never spoke to him, never met him, never had any reason to meet him," he said.
Connolly was not an FBI agent in 1968 when the four men were convicted in Deegan's murder.
"He had no reason to want him paroled or not paroled," Mullane said.
Albano said the meeting took place just as he described. "I'll stand by my testimony," he said, when told of Mullane's comments.
Charles Miller, a spokesman for the U.S. Department of Justice, said the DOJ would have no comment on Albano's remarks because of the ongoing litigation.
In their lawsuit, the families of the four men convicted in Deegan's slaying accuse the federal government of malicious prosecution, conspiracy and depriving them of companionship.
Their lawyers say the FBI allowed Joseph "The Animal" Barboza - a mob assassin and FBI informant - to frame the four men.
After Deegan was shot in the head in a Chelsea alley, informants told FBI agents that Barboza, Flemmi and three other men were responsible, according to attorneys for the four men. But the FBI had recruited Flemmi as an informant and wanted to protect him so they allowed Barboza to frame Limone, Salvati, Greco and Tameleo.
Justice Department attorney Bridget Lipscomb said during opening statements at the trial that federal authorities had no duty to share information with state prosecutors and can't be held liable for the results of a separate state investigation. She also said that the four men had attorneys who raised doubts about Barboza's testimony at their trial.
"International Art Theft" presented by FBI Special Agent Robert K. Wittman Date: January 11, 2007 Time: 5:30 pm
Location: The Morikami Museum & Japanese Gardens
Contact: World Affairs Council of the Florida Palm Beaches
International Art Theft Presented by: FBI Special Agent Robert K. Wittman
Art and cultural property crime is the world's fourth-largest category of international crime, a growing black market today generating losses of up to $6 billion annually and a problem that is garnering increased attention from the FBI. The FBI's first specially dedicated unit for art crime, was established in November 2004 to step up U.S. response capabilities after the tragic looting of the National Museum in Baghdad.
At this special evening, the World Affairs Council of the Florida Palm Beaches hosts Special Agent Wittman who will discuss the United States' renewed efforts to break up crime rings that steal and smuggle priceless works of art, loot archaeological sites and churn out forgeries, as well as some of his own experiences in his almost 18 years on the FBI's art beat.
Doors open at 5:30pm and dinner can be purchased at The Cornell Cafe prior to the discussion beginning at 6:30pm. Tickets to this event are $20 and can be reserved online by visiting www.worldaffairsflorida.org and purchased at the door. For directions to The Morikami Museum and Japanese Gardens, please click here.
Special Agent Wittman, whose investigative work takes him around the world and often times undercover, has been responsible for the recovery of more than $150 million worth of stolen art and cultural property. Highlights include one of the original 14 copies of the Bill of Rights, a Rembrandt self-portrait, a 2,000-year-old pre-Columbian piece of body armor, five Norman Rockwell paintings, and a group of paintings, two by Spanish master Francisco Goya, from a private Madrid estate.
When he's not on an urgent case, Special Agent Wittman lectures often in an effort to teach others how to avoid becoming victims of theft or fraud. He has given presentations before such organizations as the American Association of Museums and has also represented the United States at numerous international conferences. He serves as a member of the Department of State's Cultural Antiquities Task Force in Washington. Special Agent Wittman is widely known and recognized for his expertise. In 2004, the Smithsonian Institution awarded Wittman the Robert Burke Memorial Award for Excellence in Cultural Property Protection.
Special Agent Wittman will discuss the United States' renewed efforts to break up crime rings that steal and smuggle priceless works of art, loot archaeological sites and churn out forgeries, as well as some of his own experiences in his almost 18 years on the FBI's art beat.
Art Hostage Comments:
This is just one of many reasons why Billboard Bob Wittman is "Yer man" as they say in Ireland, when it comes to recovering the stolen Vermeer.