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US Justice Dept. to share papers on Boston mob.
By Jim Geraghty, States News Service, Boston Globe Staff,
Later, Burton thanked Attorney General John D. Ashcroft and the White House ''for working with us as we have been trying to uncover the corruption that existed in the FBI for four decades.'' Meanwhile, state law enforcement officials told the committee yesterday that the bureau's Boston office had interfered with their organized-crime investigations.
Former Connecticut prosecutor Austin J. McGuigan, recounting previously disclosed allegations, told the panel that the Boston FBI office passed sensitive information to former agents who worked for businesses under investigation in the 1970s.
The deal between Burton and the White House averts a constitutional fight. On Sept. 6, the committee announced it was subpoenaing documents related to the bureau's use of mob informants in Boston since the 1960s.
In December, the Justice Department announced that it would not turn over documents, citing an order from President Bush that said the committee's ''pressure on executive branch prosecutorial decision-making is inconsistent with separation of powers and threatens individual liberty.''
Mark Corallo, a spokesman for the committee, said lawyers from the US attorney's office in Boston will review the documents to determine whether they contain any grand jury material, which would be redacted. Committee lawyers expect to review the documents by next week.
At yesterday's hearing, McGuigan, who served as Connecticut's chief state's attorney from 1978 to 1985 and served on a statewide organized-crime task force the previous three years, focused on an investigation of the World Jai Alai organization in Bridgeport.
McGuigan told the panel that in 1975 the state task force began investigating the organization on suspicion that its owners were connected to the Winter Hill Gang of Boston.
The FBI told state authorities it had no information on World Jai Alai president John B. Callahan or any connections between the group and organized crime.
Callahan resigned as president shortly before state authorities planned to question him. McGuigan charged that former FBI agent H. Paul Rico, who was working for World Jai Alai, warned Callahan about the state investigation.
McGuigan also cited the May 1982 murder of Brian Halloran, a Winter Hill Gang member. He said Halloran went to the FBI seeking to enter the witness protection program and offered federal authorities testimony that Callahan and other members of the Winter Hill Gang had murdered World Jai Alai owner Roger Wheeler in 1980. (McGuigan said Wheeler had no known connections to organized crime.)
The FBI decided that Halloran's testimony was not credible and gave him no protection. He was gunned down on a South Boston street shortly after his FBI meeting, McGuigan said.
Soon after Halloran was murdered, Callahan was also killed, after agreeing to be interviewed by Connecticut authorities in Florida in August 1982, McGuigan said.
Two subjects of the Burton committee's inquiry - fugitive gangster James ''Whitey'' Bulger and his longtime sidekick, Stephen ''The Rifleman'' Flemmi - are charged in a federal racketeering indictment in Boston with killing 19 people, including Halloran. Bulger and Flemmi were also charged last year with the slayings of Wheeler in Florida and Callahan in Oklahoma.
The committee also heard testimony from Victor Garo, the lawyer for Joseph Salvati, who spent more than 30 years in jail for the 1967 slaying of Edward ''Teddy'' Deegan in Chelsea but has been cleared of the crime. Salvati was convicted on the testimony, since proven false, of FBI informant Joe ''The Animal'' Barboza.
Barboza's testimony sent four men to prison for the Deegan slaying. Two of the men died in prison, and two served about 30 years each before their convictions were overturned.
His voice trembling with emotion, Garo implored committee members to consider making prosecutors who withhold evidence punishable by imprisonment.
Shelley Murphy of the Globe Staff contributed to this report from Boston.
This story ran on page A3 of the Boston Globe on 2/28/2002.
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