John Kelley (criminal)

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John J. Kelley (known as "Red Kelley"; a.k.a. "Irish Red Kelley" and "Jack Kelley"[1] ) was a reputed mobster who was an associate of the Patriarca crime family. He allegedly was a robber and a hit man. His nicknames in the underworld were "Swiss Watch," due to the methodical way in which he plotted his robberies, and "Saint John," due to his patience.[2]

Plymouth Mail Robbery[edit]

Kelley was linked to the 1962 Plymouth Mail Robbery. Boston mobster Vincent Teresa served as a lieutenant to mob family boss Raymond Patriarca; he claimed in his book My Life in the Mafia that Kelley was the man who planned the robbery.[3][page needed]

Kelley came under intense scrutiny and pressure from postal inspectors and other federal authorities towards the expiration of the five-year statute of limitations. Newsweek magazine quoted him as saying that the postal inspectors "had harassed my wife and frightened my Siamese cats."[4][date missing]

Kelley was arrested and tried for the robbery. He was represented by attorney F. Lee Bailey, who won an acquittal.

1968 Boston Brinks holdup[edit]

Kelley allegedly was involved in the planning of the robbery of a Brinks armored car in Boston on December 28, 1968 that netted approximately $500,000 in cash and a similar amount in checks. Kelley had intended to be part of the gang that robbed the armored car, but had backed out after two previous attempts failed. He demanded and did receive a cut of the proceeds and eventually was questioned by a grand jury. His confederates believed that he gave them up to the federal prosecutors. Once again, he was representd by Bailey.[5]

Patriarca Family murder trial[edit]

Kelley testified against Patriarca family boss Raymond Patriarca in a murder case, after which he went into the Federal Witness Protection Program.[6] Kelley gave testimony linking Patriarca and other family members to the murder of Rudolph "Rudy" Marfeo and Anthony Melei. Kelley had been contracted by Pariarca associate Maurice Lerner to kill Marfeo and Melei, whom Kelley allegedly murdered with a shotgun.[7]

Patriarca and his associates were convicted of conspiracy to commit murder while Lerner also was convicted of murder; the mob boss was sentenced to 10 years in prison. Lerner and the other defendants were subsequently exonerated when it was established that Kelley had perjured himself at the trial, as had FBI Special Agent H. Paul Rico, who had collaborated Kelley's testimony.[8]

Kelley died of natural causes in the federal witness protection program.[9]


  1. ^ Waller, Bruce N. (1998). Critical thinking: consider the verdict. Prentice Hall. p. 202. ISBN 9780137443680. 
  2. ^ Partington, John (2010). The Mob and Me: Wiseguys and the Witness Protection Program. New York: Gallery Books. p. 117. ISBN 978-1439167694. 
  3. ^ Teresa, Vincent Charles; Renner, Thomas C. (1973). My life in the Mafia. Doubleday. ISBN 9780385027182. Retrieved May 14, 2012. 
  4. ^ Newsweek. 70. 1967.  Missing or empty |title= (help)
  5. ^ Wallace, Brian P. (2000). Final Confession: The Unsolved Crimes of Phil Cresta. Boston: Northeastern University Press. pp. 161–88. ISBN 978-1555534493. 
  6. ^ Carr, Howie. "John (Red Kelley)". Retrieved 13 April 2012. 
  7. ^ Teresa. p. 71.  Missing or empty |title= (help)
  8. ^ Partington. pp. 123–124.  Missing or empty |title= (help)
  9. ^ Partington. p. 124.  Missing or empty |title= (help)