Maurice Lerner

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Maurice Richard Lerner (a.k.a. Maurice "Pro" Lerner, 1936 – 2013) was a Mafia hit man connected with the Patriarca crime family who was convicted of murder in 1970. His conviction subsequently was overturned due to unethical behavior by the Federal Bureau of Investigations and its chief witness. Lerner was married to his wife, Elaine, who was a concert pianist, and was an associate of Paul "Sonny" Averbuck.

Early life[edit]

Lerner was from Brookline, Massachusetts. He played baseball for his high school, batting .364 in his senior year. After he graduated, Lerner signed with the Washington Senators, and played professional baseball through 1963.[1]

Patriarca Family murder trial[edit]

Lerner, Patriarca family boss Raymond Patriarca and three other members of the family, Robert Fairbrothers, John Rossi, and Rudolph Sciarra, were tried in 1970 for murder and conspiracy to commit murder. Irish Mafia mobster John "Red" Kelley, a sometime associate of the family, gave testimony as a cooperating witness linking Lerner, Patriarca and other family members to the 1968 murder of Rudolph "Rudy" Marfeo and Anthony Melei.[2] Kelley testified he had been contracted by Lerner to kill Marfeo and Melei, whom Kelley and Lerner allegedly murdered with shotguns.[3] After the trial, Kelley went into the federal witness protection program.[4]

Lerner, 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 murderer 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.[5] The jury was unable to reach a verdict for the other four defendants.

Lerner's conviction subsequently was overturned by the Rhode Island Supreme Court in 1988. It had been established that Kelley had perjured himself at the trial, as had F.B.I. Special Agent H. Paul Rico, who had collaborated Kelley's testimony.[6] The Court ruled, in the case Lerner v. Moran 542 A.2d 1089 (1988), that

...that Kelley's perjury, elicited by the FBI, constituted material exculpatory evidence withheld in violation of the applicant's due-process rights. We also hold that the trial justice correctly denied the applicant's motion to dismiss his indictment.

The court vacated his conviction and ordered a new trial.[7] He pleaded no contest and was released due to time served.[1]

Personal life[edit]

Lerner and his wife, Arrene, had a son and a daughter. He died in 2013.[1]


  1. ^ a b c Barry, Dan (October 24, 2016). "The Big League Prospect Who Became a Mob Hit Man". The New York Times. Retrieved October 24, 2016. 
  2. ^ "Committee Reports 108th Congress (2003–2004); House Report 108-414 – Part 1". Library of Congress. Retrieved April 13, 2012. 
  3. ^ Teresa, Vincent (1973). My life in the Mafia. New York: Doubleday. p. 71. ISBN 0385027184. 
  4. ^ Carr, Howie. "John (Red Kelley)". Retrieved April 13, 2012. 
  5. ^ "751 F.2d 450: Maurice R. Lerner, Plaintiff, Appellee, v. Matthew Gill, Etc., et al., Defendants, Appellants". Justisa US Retrieved April 13, 2012. 
  6. ^ Partington. pp. 123–4.  Missing or empty |title= (help)
  7. ^ "LERNER v. MORAN 542 A.2d 1089 (1988)". Retrieved April 13, 2012. 

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