We trust our prosecutors not to have grown up in bags but some of them have. We hope that when they have to use gangster witnesses they have the wherewithal to recognize when they are being scammed. When gangsters are looking for a deal they’ll give you what you want to hear. Just because it follows along with the theory of the case doesn’t mean it is true.
You can’t grow up in the protected suburbs, go to sheltered schools, and spend your life in what JJ Sullivan used to say “book learning” and get a law degree and then a lawyer job and think you know what is happening in the world of the street. Here’s an example of that. I had a conversation with a prosecutor who I’ll call Ryan. Ryan had lived a pretty sheltered life living in academia and achieving honors and it would turn out throughout Ryan’s life there was never any private sector employment. Ryan however did quite well in the law trying and winning murder cases, becoming a judge and so on.
One day walking back from court with Ryan after 4:00 p.m., we had both been on trial that day, Ryan said to me “you’ll never guess what happened in court today.” I let her continue. Ryan went on, “I was questioning this witness about where he heard something that he testified about. And he testified ‘on the street’. I then ask him what street that was and he didn’t give an answer. He just repeated ‘on the street.” Ryan was stymied. Now it could fairly be said Ryan not only grew up in a bag but was still in one.
Martorano spins a story about agent Paul Rico that tells me whoever accepted it as true was in the bag with Ryan. Rico was an FBI guy who was in Boston until 1970. Rico was very successful in destroying the Mafia when he was in Boston so it was always looking to return the favor. He moved to the FBI office in Miami.
He retired out of there after his five kids had graduated out of colleges. He eventually ended up as head of security at World Jai Alai in Miami. He hired other retired FBI agents to work with him and they ran from all that we can tell a pretty tight security operation at the frontons owned by the company.
Martorano has a friend John Callahan who was president of World Jai Alai. He described him as a successful accountant during the day and a gangster wannabe at night. Callahan lost his job because he was seen associating at night with gangsters at the Playboy Club in Boston, one of the gangsters was Johnny’s brother Jimmy Martorano, a Mafia guy.
The guy who replaced Callahan as president was Callahan’s good friend Richard Donovan. Roger Wheeler was the owner of the business and after he fired Callahan he brought in an outside company to check the company’s books. Callahan had been stealing money from the company and he feared getting caught. He went to Martorano and told him he was going to try to buy the business with Richard Donohue from Wheeler. That way his theft would not be uncovered.
Martorano said he told him this because he wanted to pay Winter Hill (Martorano, Flemmi and Whitey) $10,000 a week for protection from the Mafia. No one seems to think that was absurd because World Jai Alai was under no threat from the Mafia at that time and didn’t need gangsters protecting it. Nor did anyone think it strange that if there were a threat from the Mafia, these demented Boston hoodlums would actually be able to stand up against it.
Wheeler wouldn’t sell the business. Then Callahan told Martorano if they kill Wheeler maybe his wife will sell it. Martorano said he agreed to do it after his partner Stevie Flemmi and Whitey told him they “were on board.” Martorano testifies Callahan talked it over with Rico. Does this make sense? Out of the blue a respected FBI agent in a cushy security job surrounded by other FBI agents is discussing murdering the owner of his business in Oklahoma with a guy who was fired for hanging around with gangsters.
He then says Rico tells him to contact Joe McDonald. But up to this point Rico has never met or talked to Martorano. It is absurd to suggest a veteran FBI agent he would be suddenly be communicating with a fugitive from justice he never met before to plan a murder.
Joe McDonald was another Winter Hill member also is a fugitive from justice living in Florida. There is no evidence Rico even knew McDonald. Or, that he was in Florida.
There is evidence from Martorano’s testimony that he was often in touch with Joe. Martorano said Joe agreed to help Martorno because he owed Rico a favor because Rico helped his friend Buddy McLean. We’re talking 1982 and Buddy is dead a good 20 years. Joe supposedly agrees to murder a prominent businessman because of a 20 year old favor he owed for something, we are not told, that Rico did for someone else. Do you buy that?
I’d suggest people outside of a bag would recognize that Martorano and McDonald were once partners as late as 1979 and that in 1982 he’d be helping Martorano for that reason and not some vague and ancient owed favor. Plus the $50,000 they were to receive at the end would be helpful to Joe.
The next thing we hear is Callahan gives Martorano a paper with what Callahan saying it is in Rico’s handwriting. Martorano doesn’t know whose it is, it could be Callahan’s partner Richard Donovan. It contains information about Roger Wheeler’s home and business in Tulsa. It’s with this outlandish information and some similar type that Rico has been defamed.
Martorano and McDonald kill Wheeler and get $50,000 from Callahan. A year later they kill Callahan. To finish off the story Martorano say McDonald wonders what’s going on with the sale of the business. He couldn’t figure out that having murdered the guy who was buying it the sale was off.
Martorano then tells of an incredible meeting where Rico meets with a fugitive, Martorano, and a gangster, Flemmi, after two people have been murdered by them, at his place of business to discuss the status of the sale of the business. Things like that don’t happen in the real world. But maybe inside that little bag some prosecutors are roaming around in they do.