Justice: Denied -- The Magazine for the Wrongly Convicted




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{Editor's note: There were originally four men in this case, but two died in prison. Beginning in 1977, Mr. Cavicchi, a lawyer, fought to clear a man named Louis Greco who had been convicted with Mr. Limone and four others in the 1965 murder of Edward Deegan, a small-time criminal. The main witness against them was Joseph Barboza, a hit man also known as The Animal, who later admitted he fabricated much of his testimony. He later died. Mr. Cavicchi's efforts had failed; Mr. Greco died in prison in 1995.

Henry Tameleo, an additional defendant in the case whom the FBI papers appear to clear, died in prison as Mr. Greco did. This article covers the remaining two.}

Four Men Exonerated of 1965 Murder After FBI Frame-up is Exposed

By Hans Sherrer

Editor, Stormy Thoming-Gale

For more than a third of a century, Joseph Salvati and Peter Limone steadfastly asserted their innocence of Edward Deegan's 1965 murder. Finally, after having spent 30 and 33 years respectively of their life sentences in prison, they have been vindicated. On January 18, 2001, Massachusetts Superior Court Judge Margaret Hinkle vacated Mr. Salvati's 1967 conviction of participating in Mr. Deegan's murder. Two weeks earlier, Judge Hinkle had vacated Mr. Limone's conviction and ordered his release from prison.

Judge Hinkle's extraordinary rulings were based on newly discovered evidence of the men's innocence: it was discovered that the FBI engaged in serious misconduct while framing them for Mr. Deegan's murder, and the FBI's duplicitous conduct deprived the men of a fair trial.

In December 2000, lawyers for the two men were provided for the first time with FBI informant reports that listed the names of the men involved in Mr. Deegan's murder. The reports were made before and after his murder, and neither Mr. Salvati, Mr. Limone, nor the two men now deceased are mentioned. Furthermore, informants told the FBI that the men were innocent. Mr. Deegan was a small-time hoodlum, and the FBI concealed the reports of its underworld moles before, during, and after the men's trial, even though they substantiated their claim of innocence. The reports that were hidden for years also prove the FBI was told ahead of time who was going to kill Mr. Deegan. Yet they did nothing to prevent it. Why? One of the murderers, Joseph Barboza, was an FBI informant they wanted to keep on the street. Although he was one of the murderers, prosecutors used Mr. Barboza as the star witness in court to finger the innocent men as guilty. The U.S. Department of Justice's cover-up of the truth went so far that after the four men were convicted, Joseph Barboza became the first person placed in the federal witness protection program. Judge Hinkle was so outraged at the government's more than three decades long subterfuge of the truth that she was moved to say" "The conduct of certain agents of the bureau stains the legacy of the FBI."

As reprehensible as the conduct of the agents was, it was not unusual. There is an increasing body of information revealing the FBI's longtime involvement in protecting hoodlums and concealing evidence supporting a person's innocence and falsifying evidence of their guilt,or both. A January, 2001, article in GQ, "The FBI's Junk Science," for example, examined four recent cases involving apparently innocent men convicted on the basis of false FBI testimony and reports. In referring to the culture of criminality pervading the FBI, the article quoted Bill Moffitt, former president of the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers as saying: "Only under the guise of the FBI could it not be considered perjury. ... Sufficient criminal statutes -- obstruction of justice, giving false testimony -- have been violated, yet the bureau hasn't done anything about it." So regardless of Judge Hinkle's concern, Mr. Salvati and Mr. Limone are only two of an unknown number of people victimized by ongoing and well-known FBI wrongdoing and its agents' attitude that the end justifies the means.

Mr. Salvati was released on parole after his life sentence was commuted in 1997. His continuing effort to clear his name culminated with the disclosure of the concealed FBI reports, and the vacated convictions of him and Mr. Limone.

On January 30, 2001, prosecutors announced they will not retry Joseph Salvati or Peter Limone. Now 68 and 66 respectively, they were in their early 30s when in the 1960s agents of the U.S. Department of Justice who knew they were innocent, ensured they were wrongly prosecuted, convicted and imprisoned. Although the two men can make the best of the time they have left to live and they have cleared their names, they can never recover the more than 30 years robbed from each of them by unscrupulous law enforcement personnel, agencies and tactics. Their two innocent codefendants suffered the even greater horror of dying in prison. However, with incontrovertible evidence of the unconscionable wrongs committed against them, they should be able to collect millions from planned civil suits against the government agencies and agents involved. After the prosecutor's announcement, Mr. Salvati said: "Freedom is a beautiful thing. It took us awhile getting here, but we made it."

"Conviction Thrown Out in Mob Murder Case[[,]]"[,] AP report, The New York Times, January 19, 2001, p. A29;

"Charges Nixed for 2 Claiming FBI Frame-up," AP report, USA Today, January 31, 2001, p. 5A;

"The FBI's Junk Science," Mary A. Fischer, GQ, January 2001, p. 113 (7);

"Massachusetts Judge Voids Conviction in 1965 Murder," AP report, The Oregonian, January 19, 2001, p. A2.

©Justice: Denied

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