Home / Books / Book Reviews / Book Review: ‘Rico: How Politicians, Prosecutors And The Mob Destroyed One Of The FBI’s Finest Special Agents’ by Joe Wolfinger and Chris Kerr with Jerry Seper

Book Review: ‘Rico: How Politicians, Prosecutors And The Mob Destroyed One Of The FBI’s Finest Special Agents’ by Joe Wolfinger and Chris Kerr with Jerry Seper

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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.

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About Luanne Stevenson

Published Ghost Writer; Freelance Writer
  • lois

    Luanne Stevenson has done to our minds what industry has done to the
    land. We now think like New York City looks. I was involved organizing a conference for 13 years in New England looking at crimes committed by FBI agents (1988-2002) . We brought a honor roll list of speakers to our conference including Pulitzer Prize winning journalists,lawyers,professors and survivors of FBI assassination attempts. Some of our speakers also included retired FBI agents including Dr Frederick Whitehurst, Dr Tyronne Powers, John Ryan, Suzzane Doucette, Wesley Swearingen, William Turner. There is now enough evidence to convict J Edgar Hoover of assassinating President Kennedy and Martin Luther King. In 1999 a Memphis Jury said that FBI agents assassinated Martin Luther King with the help of the Memphis Mafia. Google rockwell mlk william pepper. In the June 29 2013 edition of the New York Times there is a major story of the New York FBI agent Lyndley DeVecchio collaborating with Mafia Boss Greg Scarpa in committing several murders that could go as high as several dozen. Google angela clemente new york times fbi mafia scarpa.
    Take a few minutes and watch the banned History Channel documentary
    called THE GUILTY MEN which details the FBI assassination of President Kennedy. Google jfk the guilty men youtube
    Paul Rico belonged to a taxpayer funded death squad called the FBI .
    The FBI was created by American corporations to protect their corporate interests. Who can forget Paul Rico’s famous quote” what do you want tears”
    which he said when asked how he felt when he sent 4 innocent men to prison for decades. To view over 100 pages of crimes committed by FBI agents
    google ldsfreedomforum fbi watch making cruelty visible. The link opens with an annotated bibliography 6 pages long dealing with FBI crimes. Followed by a partial list of FBI agents arrested for pedophilia 9 pages long.

    • Luanne Stevenson

      The quote “What do you want tears?” is addressed in the book in length. It makes sense why Rico said this and the media is guilty of “clipping” a complete discussion.
      Read the book and then tell me if you think I’ve “done to our minds what industry has done to the land.” Read the book before you comment.

      • lois

        annotated bibliography

        Aaronson, Trevor. The Terror Factory: Inside the FBI’s Manufactured War on Terrorism
        Ig Publishing Brooklyn New York 2013
        Exposes how the FBI has, under the guise of engaging in counterterrorism since 9/11, built a network of more than 15,000 informants whose primary purpose is to infiltrate Muslim communities to create and facilitate phony terrorist plots so that the Bureau can then claim it is winning the war on terror.

        Bari, Judi. TIMBER WARS. Monroe, Maine: Common Courage Press, 1994.
        The F.B.I. attempted to stop the political activity of Judi Bari and Daryl Cherney by exploding a
        bomb under their car. Daryl Cherney and Judi Bari filed a Civil lawsuit
        against the FBI and Oakland police. A jury awarded them $4.4 million
        dollars in 2003. see http://www.judibari.org

        Bowen Roger. INNOCENCE IS NOT ENOUGH: The Life and Death of Herbert Norman
        New York USA M.E. Sharpe Inc 1988
        Looks at FBI assassination of Herbert Norman, Canadian Ambassador to Egypt.

        Buitrago, Ann Mari. F.B.I. FILES. Grove Press, 1981.
        Covers the procedures for obtaining and interpreting your F.B.I. file.

        Burnham, David. ABOVE THE LAW. Scribner, 1996.
        Looks at secret deals and fixing of cases by the Justice Department for corporations.
        Burnham was the New York Times reporter who broke the story about New York City cop Serpico and Police corruption.
        He was the reporter on route to meet Karen Silkwood when she was found murdered. Read his other book A LAW UNTO ITSELF.
        It details how FBI agents collaborate with the IRS to target political activists.
        see his important website about the FBI
        here http://trac.syr.edu/

        Burnham, David A LAW UNTO ITSELF Vintage January 30, 1991 ISBN-10: 0679732837
        Exposes FBI agents using the IRS to cripple political activists.

        Buttino, Frank. A SPECIAL AGENT. William Morrow, 1993.
        Investigates F.B.I. attacks on gay FBI agents .
        This book is written by a FBI agent who is gay. It details how other FBI
        agents tormented him .

        Carson, Clayborne. MALCOLM X: THE F.B.I. FILE. Carroll & Graf, 1991.
        Looks at the evidence for the F.B.I. assassination of Malcolm X.

        Cashill,Jack, Sanders,James. FIRST STRIKE Thomas Nelson Press, 2003
        Overwhelming evidence presented by Dr. Cashill on the downing of TWA
        Flight 800 by a missle over Long Island and the ensuing cover-up by FBI
        agents.One of my favorite books. see their documentary about the same
        subject called SILENCED here http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=44uu4zWQEEs

        Charns, Alexander. CLOAK AND GAVEL. University of Illinois Press. 1992.
        After reviewing thousands of pages of FBI documents the attorney author
        exposes the FBI illegal phone tapping of the Supreme Court and how the
        FBI fix court cases and work behind the scenes to get “their man”
        appointed to the Supreme Court. Written by a lawyer active in Human

        Churchill, Ward. AGENTS OF REPRESSION. South End Press, 1988.
        Professor Churchill gives first hand accounts of F.B.I. death squad
        activities. This book is a classic and is a must read along with THE

        Churchill, Ward. THE COINTELPRO PAPERS. South End Press, 1990.
        Explores how the F.B.I. disrupts legitimate political activities and engage in Death Squad activities.

        Criley, Richard. THE F.B.I. VS. THE FIRST AMENDMENT. First Amendment Foundation, 1990.
        Looks at the destruction of the First Amendment by the F.B.I.

        KENNEDY. McGraw-Hill, 1989.
        A must read book in understanding how the FBI has used the Mafia to carry out the assassination of President Kennedy.

        De Camp, John. THE FRANKLIN COVERUP. AWT Publishers, 1992.
        A former Republican state senator from Nebraska writes about a
        pedophile ring involved in the kidnaping, sexual torture and murder of
        children that went all the way to the Bush White House.
        Attorney DeCamp discusses the FBI role in the coverup of this case and
        the murder of a special prosecutor appointed to investigate the
        pedophile ring.This book will keep you awake at night and is an active
        barometer for evil indexing how the FBI crime family operates.

    • lois

      Foundation, 1999. Examines FBI campaign of terror to undermine civil
      liberties. Attorney Dempsey worked for Congressman Don Edwards who was
      a former FBI agent.

      Diamond, Sigmund. COMPROMISED CAMPUS. Oxford University Press, 1992.
      Professor Diamond attempts to get F.B.I. files showing collaboration
      between F.B.I. agents and professors at universities from 1945-1955.
      The FBI created the Patriot Act , in part, because of this book.

      Donner, Frank. PROTECTORS OF PRIVILEGE. University of California Press, 1990.
      Looks at the death squad collaboration between local police and F.B.I. agents to stifle the Bill of Rights.

      Dwyer, James. TWO SECONDS UNDER THE WORLD. Diane publishers 1997.
      The most important book you will read on understanding FBI agents Floyd
      and Anticev creating the 1993 terrorist act at the World Trade Center.
      This book lays out in detail how the FBI engineered
      the 1993 World Trade Center explosion.

      Edmonds, Sibel D Classified Woman-The Sibel Edmonds Story: A Memoir
      2012 Sibel D Edmonds publisher
      In this startling new memoir, former FBI agent/analyst Sibel Edmonds—the most classified woman in U.S. history—takes us on a surreal journey that begins with the secretive FBI and down the dark halls of a feckless Congress to a stonewalling judiciary and finally, to the national security whistleblowers movement she spearheaded.

      Emerson, Steven and Brian Duffy. THE FALL OF PAN AM 103. G.B. Putnam’s Sons, 1990.
      Oliver Revell was the number 2 man at the F.B.I. until he was demoted
      by F.B.I. Director William Sessions to the Dallas Field Office. His son
      Chris Revell had tickets for Pan Am 103, but he changed his flight two days before the plane
      exploded over Lockerbie, Scotland. See Ross Gelbspan’s book, BREAK-INS,
      DEATH THREATS AND THE FBI to get a fuller picture of Oliver Revell.

      Flannery, Greg . REACH OUT AND TAPE SOMEONE . In These Times Magazine
      March 1989 issue
      This article appeared in the March issue of the national publication IN THESE TIMES.
      It details the massive illegal FBI wiretap program
      placed on US Presidents, members of Congress, Judges, people of color, local politicians during the 1970’s thru the 1980’s. This was before the Patriot Act.
      More important it details how FBI agents working with local police were committing voter fraud and arson.
      see https://docs.google.com/viewer?url=

      Foerstel, Herbert. SURVEILLANCE IN THE STACKS. Greenwood Press, 1991.
      Looks at attempts by the F.B.I. to get librarians to spy on the American public .The FBI created the Library Clauses in the Patriot Act because of this book.

      Gallagher, Dorothy. ALL THE RIGHT ENEMIES. Penguin Books, 1988.
      The F.B.I. utilized the Mafia to carry out its executions against Presidents and political activists from 1930 through 2000.
      Carlos Tresca was one of their victims.

      Gelbspan, Ross. BREAK- INS, DEATH THREATS, AND THE F.B.I. South End Press, 1991.
      This Pulitzer Prize winning reporter formerly with the Boston Globe,
      details the F.B.I. death squad collaboration with the death squads in
      El Salvador and their attacks upon American groups opposed to those
      death squads.

      Glick, Brian. WAR AT HOME. South End Press, 1989.
      Attorney Glick details the F.B.I.’s covert war against political activists.

      Goulet, Donald Chesuncook Author House 2008
      Autobiography of a FBI agent plagued by mental illness.

      Hass, Jeffrey The Assassination of Fred Hampton: How the FBI and the Chicago Police Murdered a Black Panther Lawerence Hill Books 2010

      House, 1998.
      Contains detailed evidence about the FBI alliance with the terrorist
      underworld, and how FBI agent provocateurs are behind many of the
      current bombings that have plagued the United States since the fall of
      the Berlin Wall. Some current thinking has FBI agents creating these
      acts to fill the void caused by the downfall of communism and replacing
      communism with the new boogeyman Islam.

      Holland, Max . Leak: Why Mark Felt Became Deep Throat
      Deep Throat FBI Supervisor Mark Felt, the number two guy in the FBI during Watergate, was leaking, not out of concern for public good but rather because he was angry he was not getting the top spot in the bureau
      University Press Kansas 2012

      Hougan, Jim. SPOOKS. William Morrow, 1978.
      Important book detailing the life of former F.B.I. agent Robert Maheux
      and his relationship with the Mafia. Groundbreaking book in
      understanding FBI collaboration with the Mafia, using it to carry out
      assassinations on President Kennedy, Martin Luther King and others.
      Maheux was the liason between the Mafia and the FBI when the FBI assassinated President Kennedy and Martin Luther King.

      Kaiser, Marty . Odyssey of an Eavesdropper( My Life in electronic
      countermeasures and my battle against the FBI) W Carroll & Graf 2005
      Author exposes wiretapping crimes committed by FBI agents as well as
      Business Fraud. He built the wiretapping devices for FBI agents that
      were later used in crimes committed against people like Martin Luther
      King and public officials.After exposing FBI agents kickback schemes to
      Congress the author became a target of retaliation by tax payer funded
      FBI agents. see http://www.martykaiser.com/odyssey2.htm

      Keith, Jim. OK BOMB. Illuminate, 1996.
      Explores FBI coverup in the Oklahoma City bombing investigation.

      Kelly, John F. TAINTING EVIDENCE. The Free Press 1998. The book is
      based on testimony of FBI lab Whistleblower Dr. Frederick Whitehurst ,
      an employee of the FBI for 17 years. Shows how bad the FBI Lab is run.
      Dr. Whitehurst was the chemist who analyzed Timothy McVeigh’s clothes
      for traces of ammonium nitrate and was removed from the case when he
      did not find any bomb residue.

      Lehr, Dick & O’Neill, Gerard. BLACK MASS. Public Affairs, 2000.
      Looks at the FBI’s collaboration in Boston with the Mafia and Irish Mob
      between 1960 and 2001 in which they collaborated in the murder of 21
      women,children and men. Important book showing how the FBI uses the
      Mafia to commit political and other assassinations .see

      Lindauer, Susan Extreme Prejudice: The Terrifying Story of the Patriot Act and the Cover Ups of 9/11 and Iraq 2010 Susan Lindauer publisher
      More evidence showing the FBI, CIA and other government agencies created 911.
      What if the government decided to invent a great lie to justify a disastrous war and a questionable anti-terrorism policy? What would happen to the people who know the truth? EXTREME PREJUDICE delivers an explosive, high tension expose of the real facts surrounding the CIA’s advance warnings of 9/11 and an insider’s look at Pre-War Intelligence, told by one of the very few U.S. Assets covering Iraq before the War.

      McGhee , Millie WHAT’S DONE IN THE DARK Allen Morris 2005
      The author is a afro american relative of FBI Director J Edgar Hoover
      who is successful in presenting evidence that FBI Director Hoover is part African-American
      and related to her.
      The book details the research conducted by Ms McGhee and how FBI agents tried to stop her from writing the book. Photographs show reunion of white and black relatives united by the research in this book. FBI Director J Edgar Hoover was the descendant of Mississippi slaves.

      Melanson, Phillip. THE MURKIN CONSPIRACY. Praeger, 1989.
      Professor Melanson looks at the F.B.I.’s role in the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

      Melanson, Phillip. THE ROBERT KENNEDY ASSASSINATION. Shapolsky, 1991.
      Professor Melanson was in charge of the Robert Kennedy archives at the University of Massachusetts.
      He detailed the F.B.I.’s role as one of the principal architects in the assassination of Robert Kennedy.

      Messerschmidt, Jim. THE TRIAL OF LEONARD PELTIER. South End Press, 1983.
      Looks at the miscarriage of justice in the F.B.I.’s handling of the Leonard Peltier case.

      Milan, Michael .The Squad: The U.S. Government’s Secret Alliance With Organized Crime
      1989 Shapolsky, New York
      Michael Milan is a pseudonym for a person who claims to be a former hit man on a death squad of Mob killers organized by J. Edgar Hoover and run outside the FBI. While on the squad, Milan’s day job was selling automobiles on Long Island. His night job was to rub out undesirable for Hoover. He would get orders with his serial number in the upper right-hand corner of the page, and would then “foreclose the loan,” “deliver the package,” or “terminate the employment” of someone he had never met—all euphemisms for rubbing out a stranger. The book consists of a series of breathless tales of such adventures.

      Morrow, Robert First Hand Knowledge: How I Participated in the CIA-Mafia Murder of President Kennedy (New York: S.P.I. Books, 1992)

      Oklahoma City Bombing Investigative Committee. THE FINAL REPORT.2001.
      The book providing evidence of FBI involvement in the Oklahoma City
      Bombing .

      Navasky, Victor. INVESTIGATING THE F.B.I. Doubleday, 1973.
      Contains material presented at a major conference at Princeton University in 1971 investigating
      crimes committed by the FBI.

      Neff, James. MOBBED UP. Dell Publishers 1988.
      Important book in understanding FBI collaboration with the Mafia
      especially how the Bureau uses the Mafia to carry out its political

      Nelson, Jack. THE F.B.I. AND THE BERRIGANS. Coward, McCann & Geoghegan, 1972.
      Looks at F.B.I. death squad directed against Nobel Peace Prize nominee Phil Berrigan and his
      brother, Jesuit priest Daniel Berrigan.

      Doubleday, 2000.
      Provides supporting evidence for the idea of the F.B.I. as a death
      squad. Examines the F.B.I. acts of genocide against Afro-Americans .
      Looks at how FBI agents framed Geronimo Pratt, a Afro American Viet-nam
      vet who spent over 25 years in prison before a judge released him
      saying he was innocent and framed by FBI agents.
      Vermont filmaker has issued a 4 DVD collection of her films
      about the Black Panthers. She interviews retired FBI agent
      Wesley Swearingen who was part of the FBI Racial Squad in San Fransisco that put Pratt in prison see http://www.newsreel.us/

      O’Reilly, Kenneth. RACIAL MATTERS. Free Press, 1989.
      Professor O’Reilly looks at a file called Racial Matters that the F.B.I. is keeping on Black America.

      Parenti, Michael. DIRTY TRUTHS. City Lights Books, 1996.
      Dr. Parenti looks at the evidence for F.B.I. involvement in the
      assassination of labor leader Walter Reuther while he was organizing
      protests against the Vietnam War. It includes the essay “Why the Left
      is Afraid to look at the Assassination of JFK” .

      Pepper, William. ORDERS TO KILL. Carroll and Graf, 1995.
      Attorney Pepper represented James Earl Ray in his bid for a new trial
      and won a landmark case in civil court in December 1999 for the Martin
      Luther King Jr. family. The jury in the case concluded hat the F.B.I.
      was involved in the assassination of King. His book details our
      government’s involvement and provides photographic evidence of the
      F.B.I.’s role in this assassination.

      Pepper,William. ACT OF STATE: THE EXECUTION OF MARTIN LUTHER KING Verso Press, 2003
      The evidence from the 1999 Civil Trial in Memphis brought by the King
      family in which the jury concluded FBI agents were principal architects
      in the assassination of Martin Luther King. Written by the trial
      attorney William Pepper.

      Powers, Richard Gid. SECRECY AND POWER. Free Press, 1987.
      A biography of FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover and his quest for power.

      Powers, Tyrone. EYES TO MY SOUL. Majority Press, 1996.
      Professor Powers an afro-american, talks about his 9 years working as
      an F.B.I. agent, and the racism in the FBI . Powers discusses the FBI
      FRUHMENSCHEN program set up in the 1920’s thru 2010 to target black
      politicians in sting operations without cause because the FBI feels
      blacks are incpable of governing. White agents tried to kill him when
      he was writing this book by blowing up his FBI issued car with him in

      Ranalli, Ralph. DEADLY ALLIANCE. Harper Torch, 2001
      Boston Globe reporter Ralph Rannali exposes FBI collaboration with the
      Boston Mafia from 1930-2009 where they ran a Murder Inc. President Bush
      asserted Executive Privilege in 2002 preventing
      Congress from seeing the Federal Prosecutor’s Investigative files on this case.

      Robbins, Natalie. ALIEN INK. William Morrow, 1992.
      Ms. Robbins acquired the F.B.I. files on the major writers and artists of the 20th century, and examines F.B.I. agents neutralizing them and their freedom of expression.

      Rosenfeld, Seth, The FBI’s War on Student Radicals, and Reagan’s Rise to (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, Hardcover August 21, 2012