Anyone who has read any of the authors professing to know something about the Whitey case have noticed they write about H. Paul Rico who they call a corrupt former FBI agent who was indicted in Tulsa, Oklahoma, for the murder of the owner of World Jai Alai, Roger Wheeler. Rico’s is implicated in his 1981 murder by John Martorano who admitted he went there to murder him at the request of his friend John Callahan.
Paul Rico was a long time FBI agent who spent most of his career in the Boston office, moved to the Miami office in 1970, and retired in 1975. He married a woman he met while young, remained married to her all his life and brought up five children who went on to successful careers.
In the 1960s he brought about the indictment of Raymond L.S. Patriaca, the leader of the New England Mafia and his under boss Genaro Angiulo. He did this by convincing Joseph Barbosa (Joe the Animal) the Mafia’s top hitman to testify against them. Patriarca was convicted, Angiulo acquitted. Some suggest Angiulo was able to reach the jurors.
Rico was one of the first FBI agents to recruit top echelon informants. One of his early recruits was Steven Flemmi who would remain an informant from the mid-1960s until 1991. The gangsters tell many stories about him which to believe you have to be convinced that the FBI agents are no different than the Mafia, just another bunch of gangsters.
Now I happen to believe just about all the FBI agents are on the level trying to do their jobs the best they can. They might resort to an illegal break in or illegal electronic surveillance in an attempt to get evidence against people they believe are committing crimes but they aren’t involved in any criminal activity beyond that.
Yet the stories about Rico by the gangsters tell us otherwise. I can’t escape the feelings that these preposterous stories are the Mafia’s way to get revenge on an FBI agent responsible for putting their top guys in prison.
Here’s my favorite tall tale told by Stevie Flemmi. Rico didn’t like George McLaughlin who was part of the McLaughlin gang that was in a war with the Somerville gang of Buddy McLean and Howie Winter. Rico didn’t like him because on some wire he heard Mclaughlin call J. Edgar Hoover gay and suggested Rico might also be gay. That made Rico want to murder him. He asked Stevie to get him a throw-away gun that couldn’t be traced so that when he and other agents went in to arrest him they would kill him instead and say that George pulled the gun on them. When George was arrested by the FBI no such thing happened.
Stevie asked Rico why he didn’t murder him. “Rico shook his head sadly and explained that of the five agents, four had been on board with the plan, but they hadn’t been sure about the fifth fed, so they decided not to take the chance.” (HM -95) To believe Stevie you must believe that four FBI agents agreed to murder George McLaughlin and to cover it up because he called someone gay. I find it preposterous. I have no idea why anyone would believe it.
Here’s another told by John Martorano. He murdered Roger Wheeler the owner of World Jai Alai (WJA). He said his friend John Callahan was trying to buy it and Wheeler wouldn’t sell. Callahan figures if Wheeler is dead he can buy it from his widow. Paul Rico works for WJA as head of security at the Miami fronton. He has hired a half dozen or more retired agents to work there with him.
After Wheeler’s murder, the investigators start chasing down leads trying to solve the case. The FBI starts to focus on Callahan who had been implicated by another hoodlum, Brian Halloran. Learning that Callahan had told Halloran about his involvement and fearful that Callahan would implicate him Martorano murders Callahan.
Martorano says that sometime after Callahan’s murder, the guy who helped him murder both Wheeler and Callahan, Joe McDonald, asked him what was going on with the sale of the business. Why would that even be a concern when the guy who was going to buy it was dead? Makes no sense but lets go on.
Martorano said he wanted to find out so he called Flemmi and asked him to set up a meeting with Rico. He said he wanted to learn it from the horse’s mouth. He then said Flemmi and he went to the Miami fronton up to the executive dining room and met with Rico.
Imagine that. The fronton is loaded with security cameras and the FBI agents working there are supposed to be on the lookout for wise guys and Martorano, a fugitive from justice, and Flemmi, a top organized crime figure walk into it without a concern. What’s more, the head of security Rico who allegedly knew they had done these murders agrees to meet with them in the dining room. You know, rather than meeting in some dark parking lot or out of the way restaurant, Rico a skilled retired FBI agent apparently has no concern being spotted openly at his place of business, whose owner has been murdered, meeting with two top criminals who committed the murder and could destroy him by offering him up if they got jammed in.
Martorano would say: “I know he’s got all the FBI agents there, but no one’s making a move to collar me. And then I knew, I mean I really understood for the first time, that all the rumors about Rico were true.” In other words, all those retired agents just like the ones who were planning to kill McLaughin are also corrupt.
How is it we are asked to believe life-long criminals with blood dripping from their hands from their many murders looking for deals telling stories that by all measures are totally false over FBI agents who have led crime-free lives? Yet prosecutors, judges and authors accept their lies as factual truths without a scintilla of corroboration. I remain in awe thinking anyone believed such falsehoods.