How The FBI Framed An Innocent Massachusetts State Trooper

My telling of the story of Trooper John Naimovich must be like a serialization.  To understand it you have to know what I’ve written on past Wednesdays.  Serialization is as old as Sheherazade’s stories in One Thousand and One Nights.  It gained immense popularity in the 19th Century when most good authors like Dickens produced their books in segments.  Google tells of its history.

As a youngster I would attend movies that were serials.  After the first episode, each following week a segment would be shown that would be a continuation of the prior week. Like a magnet it drew me back each Saturday morning as the suspense built. To understand the movie, I had to make sure I saw each segment.

To understand Naimovich you have to have read most segments about him.  I’ll sum up a part of the story here.  Each Wednesday I’ll add to the story.  To get a sense of what I write about you’ll have to read most of all the Wednesday material including that previously posted.

The gist of the Naimovich story is that he was a state trooper with 23 years of remarkable service who successfully went after organized crime gaming syndicates.  On February 3, 1988, he was arrested in a humiliating manner in front of all the members of his unit.  He was paraded before the media.  When I learned of his arrest I called assistant U.S. attorney Jeremiah O’Sullivan.  He told me Naimovich had been undermining FBI investigations for many years by leaking confidential matters to the LCN.

Naimovich was abandoned by everyone on his job other than fewer than the fingers on your hand.  His union refused to pay for his attorneys.  Some on his job worked actively, perhaps over eagerly, to try to convict him.  The story that was patched together seemed solid.  When convicted the government planned to send Naimovich away for twenty or more years as a bad cop.

Tom Foley who had been a Massachusetts state trooper for a half dozen years, two of those working for the FBI, was heavily involved in the investigation of Naimovich.   He barely knew Naimovich but had this to say about him in his book, Most Wanted.  He was “A tough, burly guy, not far from retirement, Naimovich had all the personality of a nightstick.  Few liked him, and that is saying something in the State Police, which is a get along kind of group.  Naimovich would give you a grunt or a look, and think he was being helpful.”   You can understand why a person like Foley and some others would gleefully help the FBI.  As he said, “few liked him”.  He was not one of the guys, an easy and acceptable target.

I had worked with Naimovich off and on over ten years.  We weren’t friends by any means but we were close because of our work.  To say I liked Naimovich would be stretching it, to say I admired him would not be.  Naimovich was hard to like.  It was even harder to get him to like you.  You had to earn his respect not by talk but by the way you did your job.  It took time to do this.  Guys like Foley who liked the “get along kind of group” could never understand a Naimovich so he looked upon him with jaundiced and suspicious eye ready to turn on him at the slightest prompting,  especially if it came from someone he admired like the FBI.

Naimovich was all business all the time.  He was all state police but not in any showy way.  He dressed like a longshoreman.  He wore a gold earring.  He seemed slovenly.  He had no showing of any wealth living a very modest existence.  His was an odd name among all the Irish names.  His nickname, Ivan, bespoke of someone strange.  He was interested in doing his job as well as he could.  He had had a remarkable career including running a bookie office as an undercover trooper.  He had no plans to retire because he loved his job.

At the time he was arrested he and I were planning to set up a special unit in Norfolk County to go after the leaderships of all the organized crime groups.  We were both expert in electronic surveillance.  We loved working it.  I had developed a nick name Matt Tap among some of the cops.  (As a consequence of working closely with cops I picked up two other nicknames:  Monte and Fletcher, but those are other stories.)  I figured if we joined up we’d get tremendous results.  Naimovich was willing to leave the Special Services Unit (SSU) where he had worked for years and come to Norfolk because the SSU had been merged with another state police unit to create a new unit called the SSS.  This new unit was run in coordination with the FBI.  The new guy in charge of the SSS had an intense dislike for Naimovich and feelings of grandeur because the FBI let him work with its agents.   Naimovich felt the new guy was sort of a phony who didn’t earn his stripes.

After I learned Naimovich was arrested that was all I knew.  I knew nothing of what O’Sullivan or the FBI had for evidence against him.  I called around and tried to find out.  The few who were willing to talk to me told me nothing.   I had to assume the feds had a rock solid case.  After all, this guy had been on the job a long time spinning out one investigation after another which took down top organized crime figures.  You just don’t indict such a person unless you are absolutely sure you’ve got him good.

Even though I knew nothing about the case and had to believe the feds had him locked up solid I didn’t believe Naimovich was a bad cop.  For all I knew they had tapes of him talking to top LCN figures or pictures of him taking money from Mafia hoodlums.  But until I knew more I had to go with my gut.  As I said to O’Sullivan that morning, “you guys made a big mistake.”  A few  weeks later teaching a course to state troopers at their facility in Framingham and still without knowing the evidence I told the class that Naimovich was wrongfully accused.  (I was not invited back to teach again.)  I had put myself way out on the limb in my belief that he was wrongfully charged based only on the dealings I had with him and my feeling he’d never have compromised anything law enforcement undertook to do.

I’d come to find out he was set upon by the FBI with the complicity of guys on his on job.   The initial basis for their investigation proved false.  Gears were switched to find another basis.  They were intent on finding something, anything,  against him.  They went after him through his informant a low level bookie named McIntyre.

McIntyre was one of Naimovich’s long time informants.  The FBI found that there were telephone communications between Naimovich and McIntyre.  What’s the first thing an experience investigator should ask when he sees that?  Why is this trooper in touch with a bookie?  If the trooper is a road guy then it should raise suspicions.  If the trooper is involved in chasing after bookies then it should raise the idea that this bookie is his informant.

The FBI agent of 20 year’s experience who received gifts from Whitey and dined with him and Connolly said he never thought of that.  He also said he couldn’t ask anyone about it because it might compromise his investigation suggesting that everyone in the state police were suspect.   The normal thing was not done.  Rather the FBI with O’Sullivan’s help got a pen register to show Naimovich and McIntyre were in contact over the telephone which the people who supervised Naimovich knew.

The FBI twisted this normal relationship, added in things that would later prove to be false, and secured a wiretap warrant to listen to McIntyre.   The intercepted conversations showed McIntyre was running a bookie office which was well known to the state police and should not have surprised anyone.   The FBI got warrants against McIntyre and arrested him.

The night of his arrest he was interviewed.  He said nothing that would implicate Naimovich in any wrongdoing.  He told the FBI he was his informant.    The next day he had to meet with O’Sullivan who told him: you’ll go to prison for many years and lose every asset you have if you do not change your story of Naimovich’s innocence and implicate him in criminal activity.   A day or so later McIntyre came back in with a new revised story.

 

6 thoughts on “How The FBI Framed An Innocent Massachusetts State Trooper

  1. Most of what is mentioned above I already know. My purpose here is to paint a very different picture of John Naimovich. I first met John when he was working in SSU with my husband in the 70’s and 80’s. John took an instant liking to my family, becoming a genuine and loyal friend over the next 10 plus years. Every Summer, we vacationed at Hampton Beach, renting his first floor. He and his wife made our stay so memorable. His son and daughter would help watch my children. John even did all the cooking making it a REAL vacation for me. I’ll never forget all the laughs and fun we had. Whenever we needed any help, John was always there, giving unselfishly of his time. John was a man of many talents. One would never believe from his appearence that John could run the 100 yard dash faster than anyone I know or do a perfect split! He was quite an accomplished chef, carpenter,undercover cop, affidavit writer, and many more. I last saw John at an event around 1989 or so. This was after his trial where he was found not guilty. My heart was broken. Before my eyes sat this formerly burly man full of confidence reduced to a mere existance of a man. Because John was ” different “in the eyes of his peers, he was targeted and taken down in a very complex plot by a select group in both the FBI and the MSP. John died shortly afterward from a massive heart attack, brought on no doubt by the events mentioned above. John Naimovich was one of the very best friends to myself and my family. I will never forget his loyalty.

    1. I really appreciate your comment. You were lucky to have seen that side of John and I was really happy to read your words about him. I’d like to include some of it in one of my posts down the line if you don’t mind without identifying you. I’ve spelled out my feelings about John. I was never close friends with him but I highly respected him (and Charlie) and just before he was wrongfully charged I was talking to him about coming to Norfolk to work (as Stevie Lowell would do) since he could not stand working for the new boss at the combined unit. After he was charged, I spoke to him several times offering advice and encouragement but told him I could not discuss the case with him so I wouldn’t be in a position of being a witness against him. I sensed the FBI was going to want to interview me which it did. I was willing to talk to the two FBI agents who showed up at the office but Delahunt told me I couldn’t. (I’m thankful for that because I’d learn the FBI’s 302s do not accurately reflect what is said.) I arranged it so that they would write out questions for me and I gave them written responses.
      I met John in a coffee shop after his trial somewhere up toward Hampton Beach. I forget the purpose but I wanted him to do something about what had happened (I forget what) but he seemed to have lost his fight. I knew of John’s many talents. When we rented a plant in Dedham he built the furniture and wired the plant. I also had a memory of him cooking for us which you confirmed. Never knew the other things but was happy to hear them.
      I will write more about John. I think it is one of the greatest injustices to have occurred to any police officer. It was the reason why I went to John Connolly’s trial and how I ended up writing this blog. As an outsider to the state police I always believed in John but did not know what the guys who worked with him thought. I’ve recently met with a former boss of his who also confirmed my beliefs that John was a great guy who would do anything for you if he thought well of you and was wrongfully charged. Stevie Lowell also felt the same way.
      I don’t know if you have any contact with John’s kids but if you do and could put me in touch with them I’d appreciate it. Thanks for your wonderful comment. Best to you and your family.

  2. I’m a former Massachusetts State Trooper that was at one time assigned to SSU and worked with John Naimovich. Many felt Naimovich was targeted because the Feds were trying to get to other State Police Officers.

    There was never any indication that Naimovich was guilty of anything but, as you point out, he had a miserable disposition. John read most if not all of my applications for search warrants, I never had a problem with any of them.

    The investigastion into Naimovich by the Feds contained false statement -one of which involved me. An affidavit written by an FBI agent stated that I had stopped one of the bookmakers and I let him go because the bookmaker told me that he had a friend in the MSP. The FBI alledged that the “friend” was John Nasimovich. That was a lie. In their attemtt to develop PC The FBI agents conviently left out material in one Affidavit. The affidavit stated that I had taken $5000.00 from aother bookmaker. The FBI agent left out the rest of the story which was that I did take $5000.00 from tha bookmaker and the money was loggged in at the Barracks, before the end of my shift. The next day I charged the bookmaker him with possession of Gamng apparatus in Newton District Court. The Boston Office of the FBI at that time had a group of agents that were fabricating information and comitting sins of omission to build a case against Naimovich.

    There are many other parts to this story that will probably never be told

    Regards

    Bob Cerra

    1. Thanks for your input, Bob. Early on I knew that Naimovich did things his way and felt that was the only way to do things. But he was good at what he did and I believed he was totally honest. If you did affidavits with him you probably remember how long and precised he wanted everything. I was talking to a secretary who did my typing and she reminded me of how John would always use the term “the aforsesaid” — like “the aforesaid yellow Cadillac Sedan.” He left nothing to chance. You mentioned Naimovich’s disposition. At least he was like that with me but I accepted it because he had good skills and down inside a real desire to get after the bookies. I often wondered why he became a state trooper because he never fit in with the spit shine Marine-type image of most of the guys. But I know he really like being a trooper and never aspired to be anything but a trooper. When I’d complain about something that was or wasn’t done he’d always defend the troopers. I’ll write about the conversations I had with him after he was arrested.
      As far as the FBI trying to get other troopers, I never sensed that. They ignored the 23 years of excellent work Naimovich had done and were hell bent on going after him. The enlisted the help of some of the guys on the state police. The group in the FBI going after him was under Supervisor Jim Ring. He was a buddy of Connolly as were others in the group. Weeks said they all got gifts from Whitey. When I heard Whitey was an informant of Connolly I though about Naimovich. Connolly as we know did everything he could to protect Whitey, that’s why he’s serving 40 years in Florida. I wondered if Connolly was protecting Whitey and was going after Naimovich what was the connection. Had Naimovich been a leak to Whitey or the LCN Connolly would not have gone after him. More bluntly, why would Whitey want to destroy Naimovich.
      I’ve come up with three reasons: Naimovich was a thorn in the side of his organization for years. Whitey did not have to worry about the FBI or some of the state police because of Schneiderhan but he did have to worry about Naimovich. Taking out Naimovich removed that thorn plus it protected Schneiderhan.
      I’m going to try to tell as much as I can about Naimovich and his case on Wednesdays so if you can follow along and let me know if I slip up anywhere. I think you’ll find a lot of surprises like the state police lieutenant who testified at the trial that he called an assistant US attorney to say that Naimovich was asking too many questions.
      Again, thanks for the input.

  3. How could the FBI have “created” Whitey if he didn’t become an informant until 1977? 10 of his alleged killings took place before then. Was O’Sullivan mistaken in his prosecution of Naimovich or was he devious? If the FBI and other State Police combined to frame Naimovich who were they and why weren’t they investigated? If it was known that Schneiderham interfered with the case against Martorano why was he allowed to serve unmolested for several years? Was Schneiderham working with any other State or local Police? Was there widespread corruption in the State or local polce? 2. It is a fiction to call Whitey the biggest gangster in New England. Patriacha. Anguilo, Baione, Martorano and Salamme were all bigger than Bulger. The Winter Hill gang was an affiliate of the Mafia. They were not a rival gang. Winter Hill took orders from the Mafia. They did hits for the Mafia according to Baione. 2. The State Police did a great job in the 70s when they worked with the FBI and prosecuted Salemme for bombing attorney Fitzgerald’s car.The men and women of all law enforcement generally do excellent work. There are exceptions ( Morris and Schneiderham). O’Sullivan coerced McIntire to change his story on Naimovich. Was Flemmi coerced to change his story on Connolly? In 1999 he testified Connolly was honest. Years later he was saying he was corrupt. If it was wrong to coerce the witnesses in the Naimovich case under the threat of prosecution wasn’t it wrong to use the same technique against Connolly? 3. In the book “Informant” the informant is told he can be a co-operating witness or a defendant. This is the same choice Jo Murphy was given when the Feds investigated Acera and Robinson,two corrupt Boston Police. Murphy said he didn’t have any additional information. He was indicted and ended up in Danbury. He was seen at Cape Cod after he served his sentence and maintained that he had nothing to provide. He was framed like Naimovich and Connolly. 4. If Gravano is correct and there are 4 to 5 thousand made men in the USA how many are in NY? The Luchesse family has 105. There are 5 major families.One could coservatively approximate 400 made men. NY has a population of 8 million. If you combine the area of Boston and Providece(They are only about 50 miles apart) you would have a population of over half of NY. It wouldn’t be unreasonable to say that the Boston-Providence area would have about half the made men as NY.or 200. If the above is accurate how do 20 Winter Hill members exceed 200 Mafia made men?

    1. Dennis Condon opened Whitey in 1971. He was closed on the FBI books but reopened in 1975, Book closures were often cover-ups and the informant was continue in use. Whitey murdered 4 people in ’73 and 4 in ’74. The other 11 after he was official but I suggest he was an informant since 1971.

      O’Sullivan was not on the level. He wasn’t candid with me when I talked to him the day Naimovich got arrested. I believe he also misled the grand jury during his presentation of the evidence as to Naimovich’s relationship with McIntyre. His testimony before Congress was all over the place.

      The FBI doesn’t investigate itself very well. It is still trying to decide what happened between its agent Jesse and Mark Rossetti a year after it began an inquiry into that Mafia capo’s relationship with the agent. The state police were duped by the FBI although one or two seemed to enjoy coming down on Naimovich.

      Schneiderhan’s involvement with Martorano was not known until Martorano’s arrest long after he left the state police. Schneiderhan worked with the state police in the AG’s office to 1978. I’m not sure when he left the state police but he ended up in the New England State Police Information Network. (NESPIN). When we were doing wiretaps we’d sometimes use NESPIN to run telephone numbers for us. All the troopers went to Schneiderhan so he was in the position to know a lot. I don’t know when he stopped working there but it seems clear he had contacts that he was able to get information from and pass it on to Flemmi. Flemmi did not rely on Connolly to tell him the indictments were coming down in ’95. He said to Weeks he had his own guy. Schneiderhan had information the indictments were coming on the 10th of January. He got that to Flemmi on the 5th the day complaint warrants had issued. His source had to be someone connected with the grand jury. .

      There was a limited amount of corruption in the state police involving drugs. I never ran into any with the state police or the locals I dealt with.. Boston cops had a little bit of trouble with some detectives with sticky fingers.

      I think Whitey killed more people than the total killed by the list you set out. I don’t mind calling him one of the biggest but I believe he was the biggest. At times Winter Hill did favors for the Mafia. Martorano always believed if push came to shove it could have easily defeated the Mafia in Boston.

      I don’t know what happened with respect to Flemmi. His motivation was to stay alive so he didn’t want Martorano and Weeks to link him to the Florida and Oklahoma murders. Do I believe anything he says, absolutely not. I wouldn’t believe him if he said Connolly was innocent or if he said he was guilty.

      3. The FBI and DOJ pressure people all the time if they have them jammed in. They tell a person, “here’s what we think the facts are. Either confirm them or go to jail.” If you want to stay out of jail you tell the story the FBI wants to hear. The informant Marc Whitaker was a true character. I still can’t figure him out. He did 8 or so years for getting everyone angry at him. I know nothing about Jo Murphy

      4. Martorano said when the NY Mafia came to collect money from Winter Hill he had sixty to eighty guys at Marshall Motors hanging around. Comparing New York City with anything section in New England seems to me a stretch. New York had five crime families, most of New England one.

      Your point is the FBI should have gone after the Mafia and left Winter Hill alone. I don’t agree. I think it is wrong to protect murderers and to deal with them.

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