H. Paul Rico

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FBI mugshot of H. Paul Rico

Harold Paul Rico (April 29, 1925 – January 14, 2004) was an FBI agent. Indicted for murder in 2003, he played a significant role in the 1968 framing of four men for murder, unjustly imprisoning them for decades.

Rico was born in 1925 in Boston. He graduated from Boston College with a bachelor's degree in history. Rico joined the FBI in 1951 at the age of 26 and worked in the Boston area. He used members of the Winter Hill Gang as informants. In 1956 he recognized a disguised James "Whitey" Bulger in a Revere bar and arrested him.

Deegan Murder[edit]

In 1965 Rico received word that gangster Edward Deegan was going to be killed by members of the The Winter Hill Gang but did nothing. He then watched as Joe Barboza testified in court against four men they both knew to be innocent of the crime: Peter Limone, Henry Tameleo, Joe Salvati and Louis Greco. Tameleo died in 1985 in prison and Greco died in 1995 in prison, too;[1] Salvati was released in 1997, and Limone in 2001. During U.S. House Judiciary Committee hearings in October 2003 looking into the Deegan killing, Rico responded to questions about the innocent men imprisoned with "What do you want, tears?"[2]

The two survivors and the estates of the deceased were awarded $101.7 million by U.S. District Judge Nancy Gertner in Boston on July 26, 2007.[3]

Patriarca Family Murder Trial[edit]

Rico was in charge of cooperative witness John "Red" Kelley, an Irish Mob mobster and sometime associate of the Patriarca crime family, during a murder trial of family boss Raymond Patriarca and four members of the family, Maurice Lerner, Robert Fairbrothers, John Rossi, and Rudolph Sciarra. The five were tried in 1970 for murder and conspiracy to commit murder in the 1968 shotgun murders of Rudolph "Rudy" Marfeo and Anthony Melei.[4] Kelley testified he had been contracted by Lerner to kill Marfeo and Melei, whom Kelley and Lerner allegedly murdered.[5] After the trial, Kelley went into the federal witness protection program.[6]

Patriarca and his associates were convicted of conspiracy to commit murder and were sentenced to 10 years in prison. Lerner also was convicted of two counts of murder for which he was sentenced to two life terms in addition to the ten years for conspiracy, all of the sentences to be served consecutively.[7] The jury was unable to reach a verdict for the other four defendants. Lerner's conviction subsequently was quashed by the Rhode Island Supreme Court in 1988. It had been established that Kelley had perjured himself at the trial, as had Rico, who had corroborated Kelley's testimony.[8] The Court vacated his conviction and ordered a new trial.[9]

Wheeler Murder[edit]

On October 9, 2003 Rico was indicted for murder in Oklahoma and Florida for the assassination of the millionaire Roger Wheeler on May 27, 1981. He died on January 16, 2004 in a Tulsa hospital where he was moved to from prison. He was still under indictment for the 1981 murder.[10]


  1. ^ Died in prison (Im Gefängnis gestorben) (german)
  2. ^ Readers Digest. "The Exonerated", March 2008
  3. ^ Associated Press. "Men awarded $101M in 1965 Mafia slaying case." http://news.bostonherald.com/localRegional/view.bg?articleid=1013538&srvc=home, accessed 7-26-2007
  4. ^ "Committee Reports 108th Congress (2003-2004); House Report 108-414 - Part 1". Library of Congress. Retrieved 13 April 2012. 
  5. ^ Teresa, Vincent (1973). My life in the Mafia. New York: Doubleday. p. 71. ISBN 0385027184. 
  6. ^ Carr, Howie. "John (Red) Kelley". BostonHitman.com. Retrieved 13 April 2012. 
  7. ^ "751 F.2d 450: Maurice R. Lerner, Plaintiff, Appellee, v. Matthew Gill, Etc., et al., Defendants, Appellants". Justisa US Law.com. Retrieved 13 April 2012. 
  8. ^ Partington, pages 123–4
  9. ^ "LERNER v. MORAN 542 A.2d 1089 (1988)". Leagle.com. Retrieved 13 April 2012. 
  10. ^ Murphy, Shelley (January 18, 2004). "Former FBI agent Rico dies in hospital". The Boston Globe. Archived from the original on March 20, 2004. 

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