Paul Rico

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Paul Rico
FBI mugshot of Rico
Harold Paul Rico

(1925-04-29)April 29, 1925
DiedJanuary 14, 2004(2004-01-14) (aged 78)
OccupationFBI agent
Years active1951–2003

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 "Teddy" Deegan was killed by members of the Winter Hill Gang, specifically Vincent James Flemmi. He then watched as Joe Barboza testified in court against four men: 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 American 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]

Murder indictment and death[edit]

On October 9, 2003, Rico was indicted for murder in Oklahoma and Florida for helping Bulger and Stephen Flemmi plan the assassination of the millionaire Roger Wheeler on May 27, 1981. Rico died on January 16, 2004 in a Tulsa hospital where he was moved to from prison, still under indictment for the 1981 murder. He was 78.[10]


  1. ^ Died in prison (Im Gefängnis gestorben)[dead link] (in German)
  2. ^ Readers Digest. "The Exonerated", March 2008
  3. ^ Associated Press. "Men awarded $101M in 1965 Mafia slaying case.",[dead link] Retrieved July 26, 2007
  4. ^ "Committee Reports 108th Congress (2003-2004); House Report 108-414 - Part 1". Library of Congress. Retrieved April 13, 2012.[dead link]
  5. ^ Teresa, Vincent (1973). My life in the Mafia. New York: Doubleday. p. 71. ISBN 0385027184.
  6. ^ Carr, Howie. "John (Red) Kelley". Retrieved April 13, 2012.[dead link]
  7. ^ "751 F.2d 450: Maurice R. Lerner, Plaintiff, Appellee, v. Matthew Gill, Etc., et al., Defendants, Appellants". Justia. Retrieved April 13, 2012.
  8. ^ Partington, pages 123–4
  9. ^ "Lerner v. Moran 542 A.2d 1089 (1988)". Retrieved April 13, 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.

External links[edit]