'); //--> Back to Boston.com homepage Arts | Entertainment Boston Globe Online Cars.com BostonWorks Real Estate Boston.com Sports digitalMass Travel
Back home
The search for 'Whitey' Bulger
SectionsTodaySponsored by:
Home
Photo gallery
Whitey sightings
Books on Whitey
Whitey chats
Links

Key Figures
Whitey Bulger
Stephen Flemmi
Frank Salemme
Kevin Weeks
John Martorano
John Connolly
John Morris

Special reports
1 9 8 8
Bulger mystique

1 9 9 5
The story behind
 Whitey's fall

1 9 9 8
Whitey's life
 on the run

Whitey & the FBI

Full list


Globe archives


Latest news
Today's City &
 Region page
Massachusetts
 news wire

Salemme pleads guilty to racketeering

Plea deal would drop murder charges

By Shelley Murphy, Globe Staff, 12/10/1999

Tired after five years of legal wrangling, reputed New England Mafia boss Francis "Cadillac Frank" Salemme pleaded guilty yesterday to a federal racketeering indictment after prosecutors agreed to drop murder charges that could have sent him to prison for life.

Dressed in a charcoal, pin-striped suit, Salemme, 66, took the witness stand and admitted under oath that he formed a pact with South Boston crime boss James "Whitey" Bulger to extort "rent" from bookmakers, loansharks and drug dealers from 1979 through 1994.

When asked by US District Judge Mark L. Wolf if he had ever been known by any other name, Salemme quipped, "Not by myself your honor, but by the press I'm known as Cadillac Frank Salemme."

One by one, Wolf described 15 counts of racketeering, extortion, bribery, and interstate travel in aid of racketeering, and asked Salemme if he had committed the crimes.

"Yes sir," was the response each time.

Federal prosecutors and Salemme's attorneys filed a plea agreement, recommending that Salemme serve a sentence ranging from 10 years and 10 months to 13 1/2 years. Salemme would be credited with the time he has been jailed - since August 1995 - awaiting trial, meaning he could be free in 6 1/2 years.

Salemme has not agreed to cooperate in the case.

Wolf accepted Salemme's plea, but has yet to decide whether he will accept the agreement. If he rejects it, then under the agreement, Salemme may withdraw his plea and go to trial.

Defending the agreement as "a good result for the government," US Attorney Donald K. Stern noted that Wolf had indicated that he might dismiss allegations that Salemme killed four men in 1967. The judge had raised questions about whether the grand jury was misused to add the murder charges to an existing indictment.

The killings include three Dorchester brothers, Edward, Walter, and William Bennett, and another man, Richard Grasso.

Without the murder charges, Stern said Salemme would probably have faced eight to 10 years in prison, if convicted at a trial.

"Anyone who thinks it's easy to go back 37 years and prove murders hasn't tried any of these cases," Stern said.

Attorney Anthony Cardinale, who represents Salemme, said he was confident that Salemme could have beaten the case, but there were "no guarantees," and if the murder charges weren't dropped, Salemme could have faced a life sentence.

"He's tired of fighting," said Cardinale, adding that Salemme was anxious to distance himself from his codefendant, longtime Bulger sidekick Stephen "The Rifleman" Flemmi. Both Bulger and Flemmi have been exposed during the case as longtime FBI informants.

While Bulger has remained a fugitive since the 1995 indictment, lawyers for Flemmi, Salemme, and reputed mobster Robert DeLuca have tried to get the case dismissed because Bulger and Flemmi were working as FBI informants at the same time the government says they were members of the racketeering enterprise.

During lengthy pretrial hearings, former FBI agents revealed a cozy relationship between some FBI agents and Bulger and Flemmi. One former FBI supervisor admitted pocketing $7,000 in bribes from the pair and tipping them to cases.

In a 661-page ruling in September, Wolf refused to dismiss the case after rejecting Flemmi's argument that the FBI promised him and Bulger protection from prosecution. But Wolf is planning more hearings and has barred prosecutors from using some evidence against Flemmi.

"Frank doesn't want to be next to Flemmi for another second, never mind another two years," said Cardinale, referring to evidence that Flemmi leaked information to the FBI about Salemme's activities.

But Cardinale credited Salemme with helping expose Bulger and Flemmi's relationship with the FBI. "I believe that the positive thing that's going to come out of it is you're going to see the whole system of how the FBI deals with informants radically changed," he said.

Bill Chase, assistant special agent in charge of the FBI's Boston office, said the agency's informant guidelines are being reviewed by the FBI and the Justice Department.

"I think we did learn some lessons from this case and I think we will benefit from them, and, yes, there will be some changes in the rules," Chase said.

Salemme's departure from the case leaves just Flemmi and DeLuca. "If we can resolve this case in a way that DeLuca doesn't have to face a trial, that's an option we have to consider," said his attorney, Randolph Gioia.

As for Flemmi, his attorney, Kenneth Fishman, said, "As far as we're concerned, we're happy to have the courtroom to ourselves."

This story ran on page B4 of the Boston Globe on 12/10/1999.
© Copyright 1999 Globe Newspaper Company.



 KEY FIGURES
Whitey Bulger
Stephen Flemmi
Frank Salemme
Kevin Weeks
John Martorano
John Connolly
John Morris

 FEATURES
Photo gallery
Whitey sightings
Books on Whitey
Whitey chats
Whitey links on the Web

 GLOBE SPECIAL REPORTS
1 9 8 8
The Bulger mystique
A look at Boston's famous brothers, William and Whitey.

1 9 9 5
The story of Whitey's fall
How investigators brought down the elusive criminal.

1 9 9 8
Whitey & the FBI
The relationship between Bulger and Boston's law men.

1 9 9 8
Whitey's life on the run
The fugitive mobster's relentless travels across the country.

Complete list of reports

 GLOBE ARCHIVES

Find past articles on:
James 'Whitey' Bulger
Stephen Flemmi
John Connolly
New England Mob
Winter Hill Gang
FBI

Or run your own custom search:
Search for:
Time period:
More search options

 POLL



 Search the Globe:      
Today (Free) Yesterday (Free) Past month Past year   Advanced search

© Copyright 2003 The New York Times Company

| Advertise | Contact us | Privacy policy |