Complicating the Simple: Joe “the Animal” Barboza’s Deal

(1) BarbosaThe Congressional Committee Investigation into the murder of Teddy Deegan and into the relationship between Whitey Bulger and his handler John Connolly issued a report on February 3, 2004. In its Executive Summary, on page 3 of that report, it wrote: Compelling evidence indicates that Jimmy Flemmi did participate in the murder of Teddy Deegan. Nevertheless, he was not prosecuted for the murder. This leads to three areas of particular concern. First, was Flemmi spared prosecution for murder because of his role as a government informant? Second, was Joseph Barboza permitted to leave Flemmi out of his testimony in exchange for testimony against others? Third, was Jimmy Flemmi spared prosecution for murder because the federal government was using his brother, Stephen ‘‘The Rifleman’’ Flemmi, as a ‘‘Top Echelon’’ informant? Unfortunately, it is difficult to provide a definitive answer to these questions because the Committee has been denied access to potentially relevant evidence.”

Here’s what we can be reasonably sure of knowing. Vincent “Jimmy” Flemmi and Joseph “the Animal” Barboza were close friends. An FBI intercept disclosed that three days before Teddy Deegan was murdered they asked Raymond L.S. Patriaca the Mafia boss in the New England area for permission to murder him. He said to them they should check with Gerry Angiulo, who was his underboss in the Boston area. The night Deegan was murdered Jimmy Flemmi was seen in the company of Joe Barboza by percipient witnesses. Informant information also put them together.

FBI agents Dennis Condon and Paul Rico were able to convince Barboza to become a cooperating witness. The FBI distinguishes between cooperating witnesses who will have their identities revealed and will testify if necessary and informants whose identity is kept secret and normally are not expected to testify. One of the conditions of Barboza’s agreeing to cooperate was that he would not give any evidence against his friend Jimmy Flemmi. Barboza admitted he was part of the group who murdered Deegan.

Barboza testified in three cases for the FBI. One against Gerry Angiulo and others in a different murder not related to Deegan; one against Raymond L.S. Patriarca and others in situation not related to Deegan; and in the Deegan case where he testified against six defendants. He did not include Jimmy Flemmi as one of the persons who was involved in the murder.

The Deegan case was a state case. Although Barboza was a cooperating witness for the FBI he was turned over to the state prosecutor to be used in that prosecution. The state prosecutors brought about the indictments based on what Barboza told them.

It seems clear Barboza did not tell them that Jimmy Flemmi was involved in the murder. We know this because he had already told the FBI agents that he would not do that.  We can now answer the questions the Committee: (1) and (3) in the negative; (2) we would say “in part.” Jimmy Flemmi was not prosecuted because he was an informant nor because his brother Steve was a Top Echelon informant. There was simply no evidence to show he was involved since all the evidence of the murder came from Barboza.

The second query whether he was “permitted to leave Flemmi out of his testimony in exchange for testimony against others” is true in part. But the question is vague. He wasn’t permitted to leave him out because he never said he was in. True information outside the courtroom from people not available to testify like informants pointed to Flemmi being there. But without Barboza’s evidence against Jimmy Flemmi, that he made clear he’d not give, there was no way to prove he was there.

The decision had to be made to take what he would give and prosecute those he said were there or let the murder go unsolved and not have Barboza’s testimony in the other cases. The Committee, and later Judge Gertner. would have trouble understanding this simple deal. Apparently though, it is common for it to happen. In the John Connolly prosecution both Martorano and Weeks had deals with the prosecutors that they could leave out people they did not want to name. The same occurred in the prosecution of Whitey Bulger.

Was the Committee was unfamiliar with the practice of federal prosecutors? Did they not understand that sometimes prosecutors are confronted with problems where they can get half a loaf of bread or nothing? Wanting something to chew on they will go for the half.

With the answer staring them in the face the Committee missed it. Perhaps deliberately because then they could present the matter as something quite sinister when in fact it was business as usual.

8 thoughts on “Complicating the Simple: Joe “the Animal” Barboza’s Deal

  1. Well, I can say I have orig letters from joe to my mom dated 1970 when he was in prison, How you ask? he is my uncle my mom passed away and I now have those letters, he speaks of things that went on in the letters wich I care not to mention on here but I will say he did tell my mom in these letters a lot of what was going on and in the books out there not truthfull about everything. ide say there 75% accurate

    1. JC:

      Those might be worth something to you in the future so I’d protect them. I’m surprised that you say the books were 75% accurate. I would have thought it would be much less.

  2. John and Chris- I completely agree with both of you. John, I think the way you laid out your examples and arguments against Martorano/Flemmi were the most clear/concise and complete way of explaining in part how awful this whole saga is. Martorano in particular is a very skilled storyteller, his ability to lie with a straight face is a game for him, he has no soul. Martorano is the most evil man walking the streets of MA. Flemmi will take that spot if let out, which is a complete horror show for another day.

  3. There’s no question that federal prosecutors gave career criminals like Martorano sweet deals for their testimony which juries rejected entirely. (A) Martorano got 12 years for 20 admitted murders, (B) a $20,000 kiss goodbye (a pay off) from the federal prosecutors to help him jumpstart his new life as a free murderous man walking our streets in Boston, (C) immunity (apparently) for all other crimes he committed (accessory to other murders, drug-related et alia), (D) permission to conceal any information he had about his career criminal brother Jimmy Martorano (allegedly involved in murders) and (E) permission to conceal information about any of his gun-toting friends (there were scores of known gunmen and alleged killers who were his pals and associates since the early 1960s.) Why was all this “data” on murder, mayhem and drugs obfuscated? So federal prosecutors could go after a lowly FBI agent never involved in any murders. 2. We agree making Flemmi a TEI was unfathomable: the Federal higher ups who assented to this knew Steve Flemmi was involved in the terrorist bombing of a lawyer’s vehicle. Flemmi fled on being charged. He never should have been made a TEI. Some potentially valuable TEIs are too Satanic to deal with. 3. Martorano’s deal should have been: Tell all about your murders and your associates’ murders and major crimes, and you’ll get life in a soft cell; don’t tell and you’ll get the chair or life in a hell hole. 4. Still, the FBI must deal with killers, and must use some as TEIs. In retrospect (thirty years ago) the FEDs never should have used Flemmi; in retrospect Flemmi was instrumental in helping to take down many top dogs in the underworld. Do the ends justify the means? 5. Federal prosecutors must be restrained in their use of the testimony of gangsters who have killed potential witnesses (Martorano, Flemmi) (if they’d kill to stay free on the streets (to avoid arrest), they’d fabricate testimony to get out of jail free or to avoid the death penalty.) 6. Sometimes you have to dance with the devil; but (a) you don’t whitewash Satan and set him free (Martorano) and (b) you don’t put Satan on the witness stand and ask jurors to believe the Father of all Lies and his sons (Martorano, Flemmi, the turncoat Morris, Weeks) and (c) you don’t let Satan and his minions tell only part of the story. The deals with Barboza and Martorano seem misshapen. I’ve read recently, however, excerpts from a book or a lengthy article defending Barboza’s testimony. Can’t recall the source. There’s two sides at least to most stories. There’s often much more in life than meets the eye on first or second glance. The plots thicken. The worm turns. “The wheels of God grind slowly yet exceedingly fine.” The good will out—in the end.

    1. I agree with a lot of what you say, including the deals given to Martorano and Flemmi. (Flemmi will get another reduction allowing him out of prison when he is no longer needed (I think Matt has predicted this)). Incidentally, Paul Rico helped make the case against Flemmi in the Fitzgerald bombing. The state ultimately dropped that charge against him after the witness who originally put him in the bombing recanted at trial of Salemme (just my recollection) and Flemmi returned from fugitive status.

      Barboza was never an informant. The DA threatened to charge him as a habitual criminal and the mob screwed him over by killing a couple of guys that were collecting his bail money. That convinced him to cooperate. While he likely committed perjury in the Deegan murder case (for his own reasons) to put Salvati in Jimmy Flemmi’s role in the crime, his testimony was effectively used in several federal prosecutions.

  4. Like many cooperating witnesses who are also criminals, Barboza told the detectives and the DA investigating the Deegan murder a lot of what could be verified as true. And Barboza filled in some details as HE wanted or needed. He had his own beef with Joe Salvati and did not want to give up his good friend, Jimmy Flemmi, so Barboza likely inserted Salvati into Flemmi’s spot in the chronology. (Barboza believed that Salvati was part of the crew that ripped off and murdered two thugs who had collected $80,000 to bail Barboza out of jail).

    There is no credible evidence in the record to show that anyone “let” Barboza lie in the Deegan murder trial (nothwithstanding Judge Gertner’s fantasy). He was on the witness stand I think for 9 days, 7 of which was cross-examination. If memory serves, several of on the defense side, who cross-examined Barboza, had serious conflicts in that they had or were representing Jimmy Flemmi and Raymond Patriarca, both of whom had culpability.

    Also, one of the attorneys involved in the Deegan murder prosecution testified that, while he was unaware of some of the informant reports pointing to Jimmy Flemmi’s involvement, they could not have been introduced at trial and he saw them as of very little value.

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