Teddy Deegan was a small time hood in Boston, he was associated with the McLaughlins from Charlestown, who were at war with the Winter Hill gang. Teddy Deegan was a former professional boxer but had been working as a longshoreman. In the cycle of tit for tat killings throughout the Boston Mob War, Deegan would have just been another victim, however his death would expose collusion between the FBI and Boston’s gangsters and four innocent men were jailed for life for a murder they did not commit.
On March 12, 1965, Deegan’s body was found shot in the head in an alleyway in Chelsea, a working class area outside of Boston. Its said that he was killed in revenge for the murder of a Winter Hill associate, Anthony Sacramone. Deegans murderers were Joseph “The Animal” Barboza and Vincent “Jimmy the Bear” Flemmi, the younger brother of Stevie Flemmi.
In 1960s, Joseph “The Animal” Barboza officially worked for the Italians but he was also aligned with the Winter Hill gang, which was led by Buddy McLean. Barboza is believed to have taken part in some of the most notorious killings, including the murders of Punchy McLaughlin and the two Hughes brothers.
Because Barboza worked for the Italians, who wanted nothing to do with the mob war, which was between the Irish gangs, he and Jimmy the Bear Flemmi asked for a meeting with Boston’s North End Mafia Boss Jerry Angiulo, to plead their case and get the OK to do the hit on Teddy Deegan. Angiulo reportedly said “You can’t kill someone just because you had an argument with him.” but if the Boss, Raymond Patriarca gave his approval, he would also approve.
Another meeting was set up between Barboza and Flemmi and “the Office”. Joseph Barboza was excited; it would be his first face-to-face meeting with the Boss Raymond Patriarca, it was a big moment for Barboza who had dreams of becoming a made man or member of the Mafia. This would never happen as Barboza was not Italian, he was Portuguese so could never be a member.
The meeting was arranged to take place at Badway’s Garage in the Federal Hill section of Providence. Patriarca showed up looking like exactly what he was: mafia royalty. The sit-down lasted forty-five minutes. Jimmy Flemmi made the case for killing Deegan. “He’s a sneak, and I don’t fuckin’ trust him,” he told Patriarca.
Patriarca insisted that he never authorized the Deegan hit but simply told the two killers that if they received approval from Jerry Angiulo, then they would have his approval. However, Flemmi and Barboza took this as a yes.
What nobody at this meeting knew was that the whole conversation had been caught on a wiretap, the wiretap itself had been placed there illegally, it hadnt been authorized by any court but supposedly had the permission of J. Edgar Hoover. The FBI knew Deegan was a target for assassination but sat back and allowed it to happen.
On the night of March 12, 1965, Barboza, Flemmi, and some other gangsters traveled to Chelsea, where it was known that Teddy Deegan was to take part in a robbery. One of Deegan’s partners was Roy French. Roy French was working with Barboza and Flemmi. Jimmy Flemmi was in the getaway car, with Barboza and two others acting as gunmen. The plan was for Roy French to shoot Deegan but the Flemmi and Barboza were leaving nothing to chance. Deegan was gunned down in the alleyway, the autopsy revealed that he had been hit with bullets from three different guns.
And this is where the murky part begins, one of Teddy Deegans accomplices managed to escape and was in police custody, which made Barboza nervous but Jimmy Flemmi told him not to worry about it as he had been having secret meetings with an FBI agent, H. Paul Ricco. Flemmi had actually had murder charges for another murder he had carried out with Barboza, when Ricco told him he could make those charges disappear if Flemmi became a Top Echelon Informant, strangely enough Flemmi became and official informant on the 12th March, the same day as the Deegan murder.
Deegan’s murder went unsolved officially until 1967, when Joseph “The Animal” Barboza was convinced to be a witness by FBI agents Dennis Condon and H. Paul Rico against Raymond Patriarca and others.
Barboza did in fact confess to the Deegan murder but, with the coaching from Paul Ricco, named Joseph Salvati, Peter Limone, Louis Greco and Henry Tameleo as accomplices. The FBI did nothing as the four men were convicted and sentenced to life in prison, knowing that all four men were all innocent of the Deegan murder, and that the FBI was in possession of the tape that proved their innocence, and actually implicated Barboza and Jimmy The Bear Flemmi as the murderers of Teddy Deegan.
Peter Limone served 33 years. Joseph Salvatti served 30 years. Louis Greco died in prison and Henry Tamileo also died in prison. Peter Limone & Joseph Salvatti were released and exonerated in 2001. In 2007 a federal judge ordered the government to pay nearly $102 million to the men and the families of the deceased men because agents withheld evidence that would have kept four men from spending decades in prison for a mob murder they did not commit.
Vincent Flemmi died in 1979. Joseph “The Animal” Barboza went into the Witness Protection Programme but his cover was blown and the Boston North End Mafia Boss Gerry Angiulo found out where he was, in 1976, Barboza left his apartment in San Francisco and was walking to his car, he was hit by four shotgun blasts at close range. He was killed instantly.
H. Paul Rico, was arrested in 2003 on murder and conspiracy charges in the 1981 killing of a Tulsa, businessman. Rico died in state custody in 2004 while awaiting trial.
T.J English – Where the bodies were hidden