It’s an incredible story with an intriguing cast of characters, and the plot screams to be read. This book has the potential to become another great Hollywood movie about a hero-done-wrong, the mob and corruption in government, but Rico: How Politicians, Prosecutors and the Mob Destroyed One of the FBI’s Finest Special Agents isn’t a work of fiction. It’s a real and unbelievably tragic story.
Joe Wolfinger and Chris Kerr are two retired FBI agents who never met Paul Rico but knew he was “legendary” in the Boston FBI Field office in the 1950’s and 1960’s. Rico’s work devastated organized crime in New England, and he was commended by the FBI director at the time, J. Edgar Hoover. So how did this beloved family man and respected agent end up dying alone, shackled to a bed in a hospital prison? The facts will astonish you.
Wolfinger and Kerr did their research, reading through mounds of court documents. They conducted more than 100 interviews with retired agents, police officers and deputies, along with current law enforcement, attorneys and prosecutors and with the help of Jerry Seper, a Washington Times reporter, wrote a book that will set the record straight about Paul Rico, who, unfairly, wasn’t presumed innocent and died before his case could even be brought to trial.
Both Wolfinger and Kerr met with Rico’s wife and family and decided that if any of their ‘digging’ uncovered evidence suggesting Rico’s guilt in the conspiracy to murder Roger Wheeler, a Tulsa multimillionaire businessman, and John B. Callahan, once the president of World Jai Alai Inc., they would forgo the book project to prevent the Rico family from suffering any more pain. But what they uncovered is a murder-mystery that spins a tale of revenge, lies and corruption, all supported by factual evidence and makes the reader conclude that truth and justice did not prevail in the Paul Rico case. Every bit of evidence, corroborated by the authors, sheds light to the fact that Paul Rico was never guilty of any wrong doing or misconduct. Paul Rico was only guilty of bringing down the La Cosa Nostra and for that he paid a terrible price.
Mob boss Raymond Patriarca, at one time, had complete power over a corrupt Rhode Island government. Judges were in his pocket, and he had a reason to want revenge against Rico. Then there were uncorroborated claims made by two infamous mafia hit men who had much to gain by offering false testimony by pointing their crooked fingers at Paul Rico. And yet, as Wolfinger and Kerr suggest and back up with facts, The Harford Courant (in particular, Ted Driscoll, one reporter for the Courant) and the Boston media are guilty of falsely “convicting” Rico and publishing lies about skimming with the WJA.
Howie Carr, Boston’s controversial talk show host and Boston Herald columnist, is guilty of slandering an innocent man. If you read Carr’s column from April 2013, you’ll walk away thinking Rico was corrupt, and yet what Wolfinger and Kerr uncovered and laid out clearly in their new book, is that Rico was undeniably innocent. Carr failed at his fact checking (that is, if he even bothered to fact check) and didn’t know what he was talking about.
The author’s use a detailed, factual and flawless timeline of events and brilliantly describe how there are many guilty players in the fall of Paul Rico. John V. Martorano and Stephen “The Rifleman” Flemmi, notorious Boston gangsters and known perjurers, lied to escape death penalties. There was Judge Wolf and Judge Gertner who misused and abused their power to prejudice the public against an innocent man. Then there was Mike Huff, an investigator who pursued the Wheeler case for 22 years and admitted to the authors in their interview with him, that there was “no smoking gun” but Huff had a fixed agenda and believed rumors. He was too naive and inexperienced to see that he was putty in Flemmi’s hands when “interviewing” Flemmi about Rico’s involvement in the Wheeler murder. Flemmi’s tale was unsubstantiated, flawed and riddled with errors. The evidence was so thin it made the Tulsa County District Attorney refuse to charge Rico until he caved under pressure. Prosecutors, congressmen, detectives, judges, lawyers and bad reporters are all guilty of damaging an innocent person’s reputation and ruining one true hero’s life.
The authors write; “As readers, we must do a better job of evaluating reporting. Before we jump to a conclusion…we should wait for facts to emerge.” It’s unfortunate that Paul Rico never saw his day in court. I agree with the authors when they write; “If Rico had lived, he probably never would have been convicted…This book is for FBI agents, police officers and citizens who are fair minded and interested in the truth.”
This is a fascinating story that will keep you thinking long after you put it down.Powered by Sidelines