Steve Flemmi had to come up with the tale of the meeting at the Miami Jai Alai fronton to get his deal to avoid the death penalty prosecution in Oklahoma and Florida. He had to get himself out of a jam by offering up FBI Agent Paul Rico. His story doesn’t work out when examined closely. Unfortunately it was never tested under cross-examination.
John Martorano, as you might expect, tells a similar story since he was the gunman in both murders so he too had to escape the Oklahoma and Florida death penalties. Martorano told his story first. Of course, Martorano never met Rico (nor did he meet FBI agent John Connolly who he testified against). He too, though, implicates Rico in the murder of Wheeler. How could Flemmi and Martorano tell a similar story?
They had opportunities to spend a lot of time together. They were incarcerated in the Plymouth, MA, jail from around 1995 through 1997. They were also questioned by the same agents. We also heard how Salemme said these agents gave him the book Black Mass to refresh his recollection. Reading Flemmi’s statement to the agents it is clear they were asking him about certain incidents, refreshing his recollection and leading him.
But as I’ve mentioned before it’s the little differences in recounting a story that tell whether people are telling the truth. It’s easy to say for them to say they met with Rico, but not so to get the details right, especially those details that may have easily been overlooked or forgotten in trying to retell a rehearsed story but which should have been remembered if the event occurred.
Obviously Martorano didn’t know Wheeler. He testified at John Connolly’s trial he received a paper from Callahan with Rico’s handwriting on it (how he knew it was Rico’s wasn’t explored); he wrote in his book Callahan “gives me a piece of paper from Rico” with a description of him and his location. Flemmi has another story, he said he was told by Callahan that his former partner (not Rico) would get the information on Wheeler. It always seemed logical to me that it would be Callahan’s former partner who was now the CEO of World Jai Alai would be the one getting the information.
Then we have the meeting after the murders of Wheeler and Callahan at the Miami fronton. We know Flemmi said he and Martorano met there, went into the lounge, he met Rico, then called Martorano over, and they talked. Martorano remembers the meeting a little different.
First he tells us “I’m not crazy about going in [the fronton]” because he’s a fugitive from justice. He goes on: “Rico’s FBI, or was, he’s hired all these other agents to work the fronton, to keep guys like me out. . . .” Rather than them going to the lounge separately, Martorano has “me and Stevie, and we take the elevator up to this private dining room area.”
He says it for high rollers and says: “Stevie introduces me to Rico, we shake hands, sit down, and I say, ‘Joe wanted me to ask you, is anything happening on the deal?” He’s talking about the deal where they have murdered the two people who were dealing. It’s as if they couldn’t figure it out themselves. Rico says, “Nothing doing yet,” as if anything would ever be doing.
Martorano goes on: “And I said, ‘That’s all I needed to know.” He said he stood up and left. He said he went outside and waited for Stevie. Then, “Í know he’s got all these FBI agents there, but no one’s making a move to collar me.” He went on: “all the rumors about Rico were true.”
None of it makes sense. If Martorano knew Rico was partners with them in the murders why is it the first time he realizing Rico may be bad after leaving the fronton a few months after he murdered Callahan? He should have known that from the beginning if Rico had given him the description of Wheeler a year or so before. Not only that, the where and how they met at the fronton differed. These are small points but things that would be remembered. Finally, the overall absurdity of Rico meeting two top criminals who planned a murder with him in the presence of “all these FBI agents” knowing there was a “lot of law enforcement interest” in the case runs dead up against the wall of reality.
Unfortunately, no one cross-examined either man on these matters. On the face of them they are laughable. Rico can’t be a top FBI agent and at the same time extremely casual about his own safety in meeting with fellow conspirators in a murder to the point of recklessness.
There is no other evidence than this connecting Rico to the murders of Wheeler and Callahan, or for that matter any other criminality. Two desperate men hoping to escape the death penalty spinning a tale that makes no sense. The dumbest FBI agent would not have done what the two gangsters said Rico did and he was far from dumb.