Check out our latest episode!
Feb. 28, 2022

The Defense Never Rests - Meet the Lawyers


Jack Kelley returns with his attorneys, John Fitzgerald and F Lee Bailey. Richie inserts himself into the Plymouth Mail Robbery investigation. The Feds wanted Richie to kidnap one of his fellow crew members OSS-style: using a cigar tube, a mouse, and a lighter. Meet more of Boston's famous mafia defense attorneys: Al Farese, Ronnie Chisholm, and Joe Balliro.

Episode 3

Episode 8

Episode 10

Episode 17

Episode 22

Episode 23

Episode 24

Episode 25

Follow us on Twitter for sneak peeks of upcoming episodes. You can also find us on Instagram and Facebook.

Questions or comments, email lara@doubledealpodcast.com or nina@doubledealpodcast.com

Thank you for listening!

All the best,

Lara & Nina

Transcript

Lara:

Hi everyone! Thanks for joining us and thank you to everyone for sharing our episodes. Our downloads are off the charts! And thanks to all of you who’ve emailed and messaged us recently. We really love hearing from you!

 

Nina:

It’s super exciting! This is our podcast’s 6 month anniversary. Lara’s been working feverishly on our new website, so check it out if you haven’t already. You can sign up for our monthly newsletter there, too.



Lara:

 

And I have no shame in asking for small donations. If you click on the cup of coffee icon on our website, you can help Nina and I cover expenses and upgrade our equipment. Ok, enough of the shameless pandering!

 

Today we’re discussing the lawyers who defended many of the men and women we’ve been covering this season. 

 

Out of the lawyers we’re talking about today, I only knew one of them personally, Ronny Chisholm. I interned at Ronny’s office when I was in 11th grade. Oh all of those files and so much information at my fingertips. If only I knew I would be doing this podcast someday.



Nina: 

 

I’m a snoop, so I still would’ve been nosing around. 



Lara:

 

Sadly all of Ronnie’s files were burnt during the fire at his home in Winchester, MA a few years before he passed away in 2013.




Nina:

 

You also lost out on retrieving the recordings of Richie from F. Lee Bailey.



Lara:

 

I wish I’d reached out to Bailey earlier. It was sad that he couldn’t remember details about dad, Jack Kelley, Tommy Richards and Billie Aggie clearly by the time I got to speak to him. Luckily we have his books to reference. And I’ve put in a request to Northeastern University as they have Benzaquin’s recordings in their archive. Maybe we can at least get access to the episode that Bailey and dad were in.



Nina:

 

Don’t hold your breath!

 

Of course we will also be covering John Fitzgerald and his partner, Al Farese. If you are new to the podcast, Fitzgerald has been covered in several episodes that we’ll link to in the show notes. 



Lara:

 

And last but not least, Joe Balliro.

 

Nina, what about John B. Greene? Should we wait until later in the season to cover him?



Nina:

 

Let’s wait on John. We introduced him in our episode on the FBI’s Boston Office called “Hoover’s All-American Boy’s Club”, but he didn't transition from FBI Agent to lawyer until later in the 60s.



Lara:

 

There’s so much to cover about these lawyers, but we’re going to limit ourselves to brief summaries of their early lives and the cases and incidents that pertain to the men that we’re covering in our podcast. 

 

So Nina, who do you want to start with?

Nina:

 

Let’s start with F. Lee, the most famous of our attorneys. Or infamous, as it were. Francis Lee Bailey Jr. was born on June 10, 1933 in Waltham, MA to Francis Lee Bailey and Grace Mitchell. He attended Harvard College but dropped out to join the Navy in 1952, became a commissioned officer and earned his Naval Aviator Wings in 1954. Eventually, he transferred to the Marines. Upon leaving the service he returned to Harvard and then to BU Law in 1957 even though he didn’t have an undergraduate degree. His military service was considered sufficient to enroll.  Bailey achieved the highest grade point average in BU’s history and graduated number one in his class. He would continue to pilot his own plane and helicopter over the years.



Lara:

 

And not always sober! Landing helicopters on cars and other mishaps, but he was brilliant and a great defense attorney.



Nina:

 

We should remind people here about Richie’s past and how he came to know F. Lee Bailey. Lara’s dad Richie was arrested on trumped up charges in 1957. He made a plea deal on his attorney Joseph Sax’s advice and ended up serving time in prison. While he was there, he met longtime bank robber Jack Kelley. Once Richie got out, Jack recruited him and some other men that they’d met in prison to join him in his bank heists. The crew consisted of Jack and Richie, Roy Appleton, Mello Merlino, and Sonny Diaferio. Jack’s old friend, Tommy Richards was also a member of the gang. The six men pulled off the Plymouth Mail Robbery in August 1962. It was the largest cash score in history up to that point. Shortly after that, the Feds began to harass the men and their families. Jack had been using John Fitzgerald as his attorney until an unsavory incident at Fitzgerald’s office. We’ll be telling that story later. But as a result Jack had to find a new attorney and settled on Bailey. There’s a lot more to this story, of course, so if you’re new you’ll probably want to go back and catch up on those episodes. The links are in the show notes.



Lara:

 

The first tale about Bailey I want to tell is the “Chicofsky Affair” as Bailey called it in his book, The Defense Never Rests. In the cast of Characters dad was listed as the man who the Feds wanted to mastermind a kidnapping. In April of 1964 attorney Bob Barton phoned Bailey to tell him that there was a man in their office with a crazy story that he believed. A few hours later dad was regaling Bailey with his tale. Dad told Bailey that some Narc agents gave his name to the postal inspectors, and that the postals wanted dad to kidnap Tommy Richards, beat the shit out of him and get him to tell where the Plymouth Mail Robbery loot was stashed. Bailey proceeded to ask how that would help the postal inspectors, and why would guys ruthless enough to make Tommy talk give the money to the postals?



Nina:

 

Richie had been an FBI Confidential Informant for about 2 years at that point. He’d been picked up by SA H. Paul Rico while he was running machine guns for the McLaughlins. Rico gave him a choice that wasn’t really a choice: report to him or life in prison. 

 

Richie, though, had ignored the “Confidential” part of Rico’s deal. He went straight to Jack and confessed all. A huge risk for Richie, but a bigger risk for Jack by continuing to use Richie in his crew. But Jack figured they could use the connection to Rico to their advantage against their competition and enemies. And with Richie on the inside, so to speak, Jack would have a better idea of what the Feds suspected about the Plymouth Mail Robbery. 

 

Richie had to feed information and give up other criminals to Rico in exchange for his freedom. But Rico was only interested in Richie’s drugs and weapons dealings with Ralphie Lamattina and the McLaughlins. He had no idea that Richie had graduated to armed robbery and was a protege of Jack Kelley’s at that point. 



Lara:

 

On September 8, 1962 dad and two other men were arrested in the parking lot of the Wellington Circle shopping center in Medford. Dad’s cohorts had tried to negotiate the sale of a kilo of heroin valued at $16,000 to undercover agents posing as narcotics buyers. It was part of a sting operation dad had been working on since getting picked up by Rico several months earlier.



Nina:

 

A few weeks later attorney Joseph Sax was arrested as a member of a multi-million dollar international narcotics ring. As I mentioned earlier, Sax had been Richie’s defense attorney when he was falsely accused of participating in the DeSisto home invasion in 1957. 

 

The authorities alleged that Sax and one of his long-time clients acted as brokers who not only got wholesale outlets for the narcotics but also took part in the actual importation of the drugs from France to Canada and then into the US. At one time the gang had employed the Guatemalan ambassador to Belgium as a courier. 





Lara:

 

Bail was set at $50,000 pending a hearing on October 5. Sax claimed he had no idea why he had been arrested, but Boston’s Narcotics Bureau chief said that Sax had not only been active but was a ringleader in the narcotics ring, and had been for the past 15 years.

 

At the bail reduction hearing the following day, Sax’s attorney, Paul T Smith, argued that Sax was penniless and that, even if Sax had wanted to skip town, he had nowhere to go. The judge agreed to halve the bail if Sax surrendered his passport. Sax agreed and was freed. 

 

The Assistant US Attorney called Sax a “Jekyll-Hyde” character who enjoyed the reputation of respectability as a member of the bar while actually taking part in the dope smuggling operation. He also alleged that Sax even produced customers for the heroin. Sax and his alleged accomplices were indicted in New York on October 5. Eventually, Sax was acquitted and he returned to his law practice.



Nina:

 

So that’s how Richie had links to the Narcotics agents and the FBI, which is why his story seemed credible. 



Lara:

 

That and he was an amazing actor. He could convince anyone of anything!



Nina:

 

No question about that!

 

Richie told Bailey that he would tell the postals where Richards was getting worked over and they’d be close by. If the guys beating Tommy up tried to double cross the postals, then they’d be arrested for assault and Richie would get killed. But if they stuck with the plan they’d get immunity and some money. Bailey questioned why Richie was telling him this story. Richie told him that he wanted to set things straight with the guys he put away in the heroin deal that he set up for the Narcs and the Feds before they got released. He told Bailey that he got squeezed into setting them up and wasn’t a stool pigeon, and if they heard he did the right thing by Tommy, they’d rethink taking revenge.






Lara:

 

Bailey bought dad’s wild tale and said he’d try to help. He advised dad to play along with the postals, set up the plan in detail and tell him everything. Curiosity got the best of Bailey and he asked how dad was supposed to get Tommy to talk. Dad told him the postals directed him to get a glass cigar tube, stuff a mouse in it, place the open end against Tommy’s chest, light up the closed end, and the mouse would eat through Tommy’s chest to get out. Dad claimed that the Postals told him that it was an old OSS torture from WWII. The postals told dad it worked every time, and dad told Bailey that it would work on them too.



Nina:

 

I’m sure Richie could have gotten the information from multiple people, but I like to imagine that it was from Jack who was working for the OSS in the War.



Lara: 

 

Me too!



Nina:

 

The following day Bailey recorded Richie’s story while Bob Barton questioned him. For roughly a week Bailey met with Richie guiding him through what to say to the postals. Bailey didn’t want to wire Richie up as he had told Bailey that they frisked him at each meeting and after the whole Billie Aggie fiasco the Postals were paranoid. Richie supposedly asked the Postals for a $5000 down payment at Bailey’s suggestion, but they didn’t come up with money. At last Richie was supposed to meet a senior postal inspector in the parking lot of the Faulkner Hospital. During that meeting the Postals promised Richie the money the following week, but cut off contact with Richie instead. 

 

Bailey decided to rely on his favorite mode of pestering the authorities and went on the Paul Benzaquin radio show with Richie to tell the tale. Although it didn’t have as big an impact as the Billie Aggie radio appearance, it did send the postals into hiding for a bit. But that didn’t stop the Postals from adding Richie to their list of mail robbery suspects.



Lara:

 

Well, we’ve both seen the FBI 302s, and dad was already under surveillance by the postals before making his radio debut proclaiming himself a double agent for the Feds and the Postals. According to dad’s version of the story and what was reported in the 302s, dad concocted the Tommy kidnapping story and ran it by Jack. Jack agreed and dad did what he did best, perform like the actor he was. He had actually met Bailey back in early ‘63 when Jack retained Bailey, and dad thought he’d be the perfect tool for Jack and dad’s harassment campaign against the postals. Bailey bought in hook, line and sinker and in the end was nearly disbarred for that escapade amongst other things. So I’d say with the utmost confidence that the story dad sold Bailey was just another one of his wild schemes. 



Nina:

 

I’m sure that Bailey was more than aware of the probability that it was all a lie, but went with it anyway. He was a willing participant in other escapades with Jack Kelley. For example, in 1963 when Bailey decided to take his new bride on a trip to Canada. 

 

One of the theories the postals had was that the Plymouth heist money was hidden up there. Bailey rang up Jack and told him that he had a plan. Jack agreed and met Bailey at the Beverly Airport. He backed his car up to the cargo door of Bailey’s plane, and loaded a large cardboard box onto it. Jack made sure that the postal inspectors who were tailing him had a clear view of their movements. 

 

Bailey deliberately neglected to file a flight plan. He flew low over the water, so the radar couldn’t track them flying up the coast of Maine then northwest over Vermont. Halfway to Montreal the control tower began calling out the number of his Cessna, and that’s when he knew the postals had taken the bait. When he landed, customs had no interest in his luggage, but Bailey told them that he had left a box on the locked plane. Like any good secret agent, Bailey had also added a strip of tape to the seam of the door, so he’d be able to determine if anyone had tampered with the plane, and gotten inside while he was gone. The next day when he returned to the plane it was still locked, but the tape was no longer intact. Bailey claimed this was one of a dozen hoaxes they pulled on the postals. We’ll cover the lawsuits and arrest of the postals in our episode “Mutual Harassment” in a few weeks.



Lara:

 

The most publicized Mail Robbery investigation fiasco was Billie Aggie’s double agent gig. After Bailey took on Jack Kelley along with his fellow suspect Joe Tripoli, he arranged for them to take lie detector tests.  Even though Jack had previously refused to take polygraphs administered by the Feds, he was now willing to take one if it was impartially administered. If you want to hear more about the beginning of the investigation of the Plymouth Mail Robbery, listen to episode 17. The link is in the show notes.




Nina:

 

On December 14, 1962, they met to administer the poly. Joe Tripoli went first, but the place was so crowded with reporters wanting to catch the breaking story, that they couldn’t get an accurate read. Bailey declared the test “inconclusive” and said they’d try again the following day. 

 

They met in a suite at the Parker House Hotel. As they were wiring Tripoli for the re-test, Tommy Richards walked in. This was a little over a month after his home had been torn apart by the authorities while they were looking for the Mail Heist loot. Tommy stated that he also wanted Bailey to be his lawyer. 

 

In the meantime, Billie Aggie had called F Lee’s office and had been told where to find the others. He walked in just after Joe finished his test, which came back clean. He knew nothing

 

Then Bailey told the other three that they should wait to see if the Postals would agree to the independent polygraph before they went through with it. But he did ask that they all take a mini test about any conflicts of interest between them since they all wanted him to represent them against the Postals. 



Lara:

 

Of course, Red and Tommy beat the test. They had nothing against one another. But Billie flunked.

 

Jack and the others went to Bailey’s office nearly every day for the next two weeks. By the end of the month, Bailey said he approached Jack and asked him straight out: “Do you think Billie might be a spy for the Postals?”

 

“Anything’s possible,” Jack replied, “but it seems funny that they’d put him on the flier if he wasn’t a real suspect.”

 

“That could just be a cover,” Bailey said. “Billie flunked the lie test cold.”

 

“You didn’t tell me that before,” Jack said. “You mean the bastard’s against us?”

 

“Could be,” Bailey replied. “But if he is, we might be able to work it to our advantage. Let me try something.”

 

Of course Jack already knew all of this, but wasn’t going to let Bailey know how and why or how long he had been plotting to turn the tables on Billie and the Postals. 




Nina:

 

Bailey reassembled the full group. “Gentlemen,” he said, “I want all of you to be extremely careful not to get so provoked at these post office clowns that you get into any physical fights with them. That would be very bad. They carry guns, and you might get hurt. I am going to give each of you a cheap and very simple camera. Any time you see a postal inspector near you, take his picture and keep snapping until he leaves. This may give you some peace, and give us enough evidence to get an injunction against the sons of bitches. Just bring all the flim to me. I repeat: don’t get provoked into fights. Any of you could get shot at any time.” Bailey turned to Billie, “Especially you.”

 

“Whaddya mean?” Billie said. “Why me?”



Lara:

 

Bailey pulled out a copy of the poster that offered a $50,000 reward for the arrest and conviction of the robbers. 

 

Bailey told Billie, “there is a phrase in this reward offer that provides that any robber who is killed while resisting arrest will be “deemed convicted” for the purposes of the reward. In other words, the easiest way to get the money is to kill you. This cuts out waiting for the trial or risking the possibility of acquittal.

 

You, Billie, are an especially likely target. You have a record for armed robbery and have carried a gun in the past. So whereas the others are not considered dangerous, you are. Anyone could gun you down and then claim that he thought you were about to shoot him.”



Nina:

 

The next morning, Billie was waiting at the door when Bailey arrived at his office and confessed everything. “I’ve got something to tell you,” he said to Bailey. “I’ve been working with the postal people, steering them on Tommy and Kelley and Trip and some other guys. They've been paying me every week. Seventy-five bucks. And they said I’d get a big reward if anything broke.”

 

Billie unbuttoned his jacket, loosened his tie, and began, “A few days after the robbery,” he said, “some postal inspectors came to me and said I could help them. They said I was a convicted bank robber, and probably could give them some good leads on who might of done the Plymouth job. I told them I wasn’t interested in being an informer even if I knew something, which I didn’t. They told me they could go to my parole board and get me violated so I would have to go back in the can. But if I cooperated, I could get some cash, maybe a whole lot of it. All I had to do was give them some names.”

 

Lara:

 

“I didn’t want to go back to the can, so I agreed. I figured I’d give them some bullshit, and when they didn’t get no where, they’d leave me alone. They asked me to take a lie detector test so they’d know I wasn’t involved myself. I took it, and they said I passed and gave me fifty bucks.

 

Then they asked me if John Kelley might’ve been in on the job. I said sure, he could've done it, he’s smart enough. So they asked me if Kelley knew anyone who didn’t have a record and could hold the money without being suspected. I had once met this guy Richards with Kelley, except that at the time his name was Bagdadlian. He had a steady job as far as I knew, and no record. So I gave them his name. I also mentioned Tripoli, who used to be in business with Kelley selling used cars. They put taps on all their phones. They would play the tapes for me to see if I could tell who was on the other end of the line.”



Nina:

 

Bailey replied: “If Kelley and Trip and Tom were the guys who pulled the robbery, they would also be the kind of guys who might get wise to you and buy you some cement shoes. Did you ever think of that?”

 

“Of course,” said Billie, “I had some other names I could have given, but those names have guns. Kelley and the others are just clowns, I knew they wouldn’t do anything.”

 

“If you’re not afraid of them,” Bailey said, “why did you decide to tell me all this?”




Lara:

 

“It’s the goddamned poster!” Billie said, “I could get shot in the face on account of that thing. The postals are so goddamned stupid. You have no idea how stupid they are. You know, one time they told me they didn’t know nothing about robbery cases, and I was running this investigation because I was an expert. How do you like that? Me, the expert of the investigation.”



Nina:

 

“Billie,” Bailey said, “you have done your friends a grave injustice, I think you should do all you can to repair the damage.”

 

“Sure,” said Billie, “what do you want me to do?”

 

Bailey replied, “You have spied on us, and that was a grave transgression. I think the only fair way you can repair the damage you’ve done is to do a little counter spying.”




Lara:

 

Billie asked, “you mean I should keep working for the postals, but really be working for you, right?” 

 

“Exactly.” said Bailey.

 

Billie agreed, saying the Postals would never catch on. “They’re too goddamned stupid.”



Nina:

 

And he was right! Bailey hooked Billie up with a wire of his own and sent him to see the Postal Inspector Wheeler who was living next door to him. Billie’s mission this time was to get Wheeler to repeat the story about the $100,000 reward for Tommy’s head, and other extrajudicial activities the Postals had been involved in over the course of their so-called “investigation”. Billie had the intel Bailey needed within 5 conversations. 



Lara:

 

In addition, Bailey told Billie that he wanted the money Billie was getting every week from the Postals. “I’ll give you dollar for dollar, but I want what you get.”

 

Billie agreed and they shook on it.

 

On December 28th, Bailey, Jack, Tommy and Tripoli went on the radio and the following evening on TV. Bailey laid out the charges against the authorities putting them on the defense. They each stated that the government had offered them $250,000 for identifying the holdup gang.

 

The authorities denied this allegation, saying that the only offer on the table was one of up to $200,000 and was open to anyone who supplied information.



Nina:

 

We’ll get more into what happened to Billie Aggie in episode 36. Bailey would go on to defend Jack and his co-defendants in their 1967 trial for the Plymouth Mail Robbery, but you’ll have to wait until June for that episode. The next attorney on our list is a former associate of Bailey’s, Joseph Balliro Sr.



Lara:

 

Joe Balliro was born on May 21, 1928 and grew up in Chelsea where his father, James, owned a grocery store. He was the oldest child, and the only boy, with 5 younger sisters. Joe decided in high school that he wanted to be a criminal lawyer, taking his inspiration from Perry Mason. While working in his family’s grocery store, he attended Boston University Law School’s night program. In 1950, he started out as a public defender earning $1800 a year. During his three years as a public defender, he worked on 3000 cases. Through his experience as a public defender, he honed his skill in representing people accused of murder. In his five decade long career he represented over 500 clients who faced murder trials. His nickname was “The Dean of the Defense Bar.”



Nina:

 

One of Balliro’s most famous clients was Henry Tameleo during the 1968 Willie Marfeo murder trial. Balliro’s daughter Julianne would go on to represent the Tameleo estate and the Limone family in their wrongful conviction civil suit against the government in the Teddy Deegan murder case. Only a few more weeks until Teddy Deegan’s first episode. Joe’s cousins, Rocco and Salvatore Balliro were on the opposite side of the law, and Joe would find himself defending his cousins in a murder trial of their own.

 

In February of 1963 Rocco and his twin brother Salvatore were arrested on murder charges, and their two brothers Frank and Joseph, not the attorney, were taken into protective custody. The authorities said that three hitmen from New York with ties to Elmer “Trigger” Burke were in Boston to kill the Balliro brothers in retaliation for the killing of Mrs. Toby Wagner and her two year old son. Elmer was the hitman who had allegedly been brought in to kill Specky O’Keefe, but failed. However, it did get Specky in the hands of the Feds, so I guess it worked out for somebody.



Lara:

 

Here’s the twist in that case. Rocco Balliro had been living with Toby and her two young children since 1962. Her husband was in the can for armed robbery. By November Rocco was also in the can for stealing furs. Toby went to visit Rocco and smuggled in hacksaw blades to help him escape. In January of 1963 Rocco managed to saw through the bars and make his way to the Chelsea apartment that Toby had rented for them. But on February 1st, Toby’s husband, Bernard Wagner was released from prison. When she didn’t return home as usual, Rocco went looking for her. During his search, Rocco came across Bernard, they argued and when Bernard and his friend tried to leave Rocco shot at his car. Rocco believed that Toby was being held against her will. He called their apartment, she was there and told her to wait for him. Little did he know, she had called the police. When he, Salvatore and a third man, Albert Ciocco arrived a gunfight ensued. In the crossfire Toby and her son were killed.



Nina:

 

In the aftermath, Joe Balliro took his cousin Salvatore’s case. Joseph convinced Rocco to take a plea agreement, a decision he would later say he regretted. Rocco plead guilty to murder and Salvatore and Albert to manslaughter. In 2002, Rocco appealed his case saying he didn’t plead out of his own freewill, but rather under pressure from his family. Joe Balliro confirmed Rocco’s statement and stated that it was a mistake as if he hadn’t taken the plea he would have been paroled by then. Rocco passed away in January 2012. Let that be a lesson, don’t plead out.



Lara:

 

Amen to that!

 

Joe Balliro’s clients included the Angiulo Brothers. In December of 1964 when all six of them appeared in front of a grand jury in the tax case involving one of Jerry Angiulo’s companies, Huntington Realty Trust. And Jerry was hamming it up for the cameras fixing his tie and asking the journalists to say something to make him smile, but he went stone faced when he thought someone might be recording him. Once he was assured that there was no sound he went back to saying cheese and posing for them.



Nina:

 

What was it with him and the recordings? Meanwhile he was on tape every day at either his office or Raymond’s!



Lara:

 

And don’t forget his obsession with people wearing hearing aids! He thought everyone was listening, but little did he know they were!



Nina:

 

What a moron! The Crime Czar of Boston!

 

Lara:

 

And even after the first wiretap, he still didn’t learn his lesson and ended up yapping into a second wiretap in the 80s!



Nina:

 

In December of 1966 Joe Balliro defended William Breen, a former police officer. Breen had been charged with armed robbery of the Essex County Bank in Lynn. The robbery netted $49,953. Breen pleaded guilty to charges of planning the heist for two Canadian nationals. Originally, Richie and Pro Lerner had been suspects in that robbery. 

 

The following April Joe took on Frank Oreto as a client. He was charged in the gangland slaying of Joseph Lanzi. We’ll be covering that murder and others in the hit parade of 1967 later this season. And as we mentioned earlier Joe would go on to defend Henry Tameleo in the Willie Marfeo trial which we covered briefly in The Hill Part 2. We’ll be revisiting it again in more detail in the future.



Lara:

 

During the Plymouth Mail robbery trial of 1967, Joe represented Sonny Diaferio’s wife Patricia. The trial will also have its own episode. Joe was juggling multiple cases at the same time. He was also in court defending Jerry Angiulo’s co-defendants against murder charges. If you want to hear more about that case listen to episode 23. Just like in Henry Tameleo’s case, the star witness was Joe Barboza, the king of perjury himself. My favorite quote of Joe Balliro’s is:

“Law is a 24 hour a day proposition. You just never get away from it.”



Nina:

 

Joe’s clients and cases will also be featured in season two. 

 

Let’s move on to Ronnie Chisholm. Like Bailey and Balliro he too shared many of the same clients, including Jerry Angiulo. Also like Balliro Ronnie started out as a public defender after graduating from Suffolk Law in 1958 in the top ten of his class. His first clients ranged from arsonists to thieves and participants in Russian roulette. While still a public defender, he began teaching law at Portia Law School, and would later go on to teach at his alma mater. In 1964 he was appointed as the assistant to the head of the Mass Defenders Committee. Ronny would remain at the PD office until 1967. During that time he defended over 4000 people, 100 of those in front of the Supreme Judicial Court. Of the 13 murder trials he worked on not one of his clients received the death sentence or life in prison at that point in his career.

 

Lara:

 

Ronnie was born on March 4, 1930 to Ronald Chisholm and Mary Peterson in Stoneham, MA. He would later move to Winchester where he was active in local politics throughout his life. After he left the Public Defender’s Office he began to take on more notorious clients including bank robber and escape artist, Teddy Green. If you listened to our Thanksgiving Bonus episode, you might recall that Teddy was one of the leaders of the Cherry Hill riot at the Charlestown State prison. Ronny also defended another famous escape artist, Frank Martin Feeney. He earned a reputation as a tough opponent. During a perjury hearing involving a witness in the murder trial of Margaret Sylvester, Ronnie got into a heated exchange with ADA Pino. The judge called a recess and told them both that he was going to go get some boxing gloves and the court could watch them duke it out. 



Nina:

 

We mentioned Margaret in last week’s episode as she was one of the 18 people killed in the Boston area in 1964. Jimmy Flemmi was never brought to trial for the murder of Margaret Sylvester even though the Feds knew he was her killer. Years later Johnny Martorano would recount the events of Margaret’s murder. His brother James Martorano was tried as an accessory after the fact along with Andrew Pappas. Andrew was acquitted, but James was found guilty of both the accessory after the fact and assault with a shoe. While defending two inmates accused of causing a riot at Walpole State Prison in 1967, Ronny attempted to gain permission for Georgie McLaughlin to testify on behalf of one of his clients, but his request was rejected.



Lara:

 

Later that year, Ronny and Joe Balliro worked side by side in the Willie Marfeo murder trial. Balliro defending Henry Tameleo and Ronnie defending Ronnie Cassesso. It would be several years later when Ronny would become a defense lawyer in the Rudy Marfeo murder trial, but you have to wait until season 2 for that. During the Willie Marfeo murder trial Balliro, Chisholm and Raymond Patriarca’s attorney Curran had the opportunity to question Joe Barboza. If you want to hear more about Curran listen to episode 21. The following month Balliro and Ronny were back in court together in the DiSeglio murder trial against Jerry Angiulo, Bernard Zinna, Mario Lepore and Richard DeVincent. Again they had the opportunity to face Joe Barboza. Ronny was representing Jerry and Balliro, his co-defendants.



Nina:

 

Under questioning by Ronny Chisolm, Barboza said he and Chico Amico went to see Jerry several days after the murder. Barboza claimed that Jerry told him that it was better that they took care of Di Seglio themselves rather than involving “the office” referring to Raymond Patriarca. Under questioning Barboza said the first person he called after hearing that DiSeglio had been killed was Officer Fawcett, but that he made the call anonymously. Jerry and his three co-defendants were acquitted.



Lara:

 

The trial against Tameleo, Patriarca and Cassesso continued into March. Upon cross examination of Barboza, Ronny grilled him about the information he was feeding to FBI SAs Rico and Condon. During that exchange Barboza admitted he was being protected along with his wife by the US Marshals in an undisclosed location. Ronny Chisholm would later defend Ronnie Cassesso in the Teddy Deegan murder trial in the summer of 1968 facing DA Garrett Byrne.



Nina:

 

You might remember Garrett Byrne from our Brink’s episode since he was the lead prosecutor in that trial. That case was his moment to shine since the federal statute of limitations had expired and only state charges could be brought against the alleged perpetrators.



Lara:

 

Garrett Henry Byrne was born on November 29, 1897, in Roxbury, Massachusetts to Simon Byrne and Mary Ellis. His parents were both born in Newfoundland. Garrett attended Mechanic Arts High School, Burdett College, Boston University, and Suffolk Law School. He served in the United States Navy during World War 1. He passed the bar in 1923 and began practicing law following his graduation the next year. 



Nina:

 

He almost immediately got into politics, and served in the State House from 1924 to 1928. In 1933, Byrne joined the Suffolk County District Attorney's office, where he developed a close relationship with DA William J. Foley. Byrne tried a number of murder cases during his two decades as an ADA. Beginning in 1942 he exclusively handled grand jury work. DA Foley died on December 1, 1952 and on December 17, Governor appointed Byrne to succeed him.

 

Following his appointment, Byrne gave up his private law practice, making him the first district attorney in Massachusetts not to have any outside business or professional activities. He served as DA until 1978 when he was ousted in the primaries.

 

Lara:

 

Byrne’s cases are too many to list, but he’ll be returning as a prosecutor in most of the cases we’ll be covering throughout this season and the next. 

 

Our next attorney is good old John Fitzgerald. Everybody’s favorite.

 

He was born on April 6, 1932 in Somerville, MA to John E. Fitzgerald Sr. and Anne L. Shaw.

 

Fitzgerald served as a Captain in the Army from 1954 to 1956 in Korea. He went on to graduate from Boston University Law School in 1960. 

 

Nina, tell us some of Fitzgerald’s tales.



Nina:

 

Jack had been using John FItzgerald as his attorney but fired him after an unsavory incident at Fitzgerald’s office. He arrived for their meeting about what legal action could be taken to get the Postals off his back. But when Jack walked into the office, he saw Dorothy Barchard fleeing in some state of undress. Looking across the room, he saw Joe Barboza holding onto Fitzgerald’s ankles as he held him out the window. 

 

To relieve the tension in the room, Jack made a joke, and got Barboza to free Fitzgerald. But Jack was through. He wasn’t going to get wrapped up with someone on Barboza’s enemy list. Gangsters were bad news, in Jack’s book. “The only place you find them is in prison or the cemetery and I don’t wanna go with them.”

 

Barboza plopped Fitzgerald on the floor and asked if he had seen Dorothy. Jack proceeded to tell him she ran down the hall.



Lara:

 

Then in 1965 Fitzgerald took on Georgie McLaughlin’s case. Georgie had been charged with the murder of William Sheridan. Before the case went to trial he passed Georgie’s case to his partner Al Farese and instead defended Spike O’Toole at the trial who had been charged as an accessory after the fact.

 

If you haven’t listened to last week’s episode yet, you can hear more about Georgie’s trial in that one.




Nina:

 

The following year Fitzgerald was representing Nicky Femia, and Farese was representing Joe Barboza. Garret Byrne begged for no bail but the judge refused, saying that he couldn’t legally hold the men without it. But he set bail at $100,000 for both Barboza and Femia. Barboza was already out on bail two times over at this point. Fitzgerald and Farese argued that their clients’ bail should be reduced. Farese said that Barboza was employed by an insurance company and a cafe in Nantasket, and that he needed to get back to work. But Judge Spalding disagreed and both were sent back to Charles St. jail. If you want to hear more about that case, listen to episode 24.



Lara:

In November of 1967 John E. Fitzgerald told FBI SAs Rico and William Welby, that Dorothy Barchard had received a phone call in which the caller indicated that if she did not stop associating “with that guy”, she and her children could be killed. 

To make matters worse for Fitzgerald, his wife had received a phone call from a stranger who told her that Fitzgerald was “keeping” Dorothy. 

Fitzgerald also stated that he had been told that if he would help them weaken Joe Barboza, they would have Spike O'Toole killed at Concord where O'Toole was incarcerated for his role in harboring Georgie McLaughlin. 

 

Nina:

The Feds asked Fitzgerald who had threatened him, but he refused to reveal the person’s name. However, he informed them that he had “given the identity of this party to Jimmy O'Toole, and he will probably be in trouble when O'Toole comes out of jail.” 

Fitzgerald also told the Feds that when he was checking around as to who made the telephone calls to his wife and to Dorothy, “The Office”, meaning the mafia, had tried to lead him to believe that it was Spike O'Toole's friends. But he’d checked with O'Toole, and Spike told him that it wasn’t him.

And then Fitzgerald tried to blame his partner Al Farese for his troubles, all but accusing Al of ratting to the mob. More on Al in a moment.



Lara:

At 5:15 pm on Tuesday January 30, 1968, Fitzgerald left work and walked about a block behind the law office that he shared with Al Farese in Everett to where he’d parked Barboza’s black and gold James Bond style car. He started the car up before he’d closed his door all the way. This fact saved his life. 

His body was torn by the explosive force of three sticks of dynamite, each 15 inches long and weighing six pounds, which had been inserted with a coil next to the fire wall behind the engine. Shrapnel from the bomb hit surrounding homes and a chunk of the car was hurled into the wall of the Church of the Immaculate Conception. An explosives expert said that it only would have taken about 30 seconds to install the bomb. The burglar alarm on the car had been disengaged. 

Fitzgerald, who was conscious from the time of the explosion until he was put under anesthesia, demanded that Rico and Condon come to see him.

 

Nina:

The theory has always been that the mob was behind the bombing in an effort to scare Barboza and keep him quiet. Because that’s what the Feds and Fitzgerald claimed. But the man was keeping Dorothy and driving Barboza’s car and Barboza was stuck out in protective custody like a caged animal. Frankie Salemme later alleged that Fitzgerald was also running Joe Barboza 's loan shark operation out of his law office in Everett. And of all Salemme’s claims that seems to be  a more credible one. Three strikes and you’re out. But who actually planted the bomb for Barboza is still a mystery. It wasn’t Salemme and Stevie Flemmi, though, I can tell you that. Even though Salemme was later convicted and did 12 years for it. It was done by a professional who really meant to kill Fitzgerald. Not just scare him.

 

Lara:

The claim that the caller offered to bump off Spike O’Toole is what drives it home for me that this was about Dorothy, and not about pressuring Barboza not to testify.

SAs Rico and Condon contacted Fitzgerald at Massachusetts General Hospital where Fitzgerald was recovering from injuries sustained in the car bombing. Fitzgerald said he had come in contact with many criminals, whom he believed were all now his enemies. Fitzgerald told the agents that he was going to write a letter to Barboza telling him that because he lost a leg in the bombing, Barboza should turn on these people and provide testimony that would send them all to jail. Rico told Fitzgerald that he would prefer that Barboza testify about whatever he could, without Barboza being pressured into testifying against specific individuals. What bullshit, they should have said only if it was those who the feds wanted him to testify against. Rico said in his report, “If we feel that at a later date that Baron is “holding out,” we then may ask Fitzgerald's assistance, but we do not want Baron to be motivated by revenge.”

Fitzgerald would relocate to South Dakota with his family and go on to become a judge. But his partner Al Farese stayed behind.



Nina:

 

Alfred P. Farese was born on January 9, 1914 to Antonio Farese and Adeline Biaci in South River, NJ. By the 1920s the family had moved to Saugus, MA. He attended Boston College High before going to University of Alabama followed by Alabama Law School. In his decades long career he defended 300 men accused of murder including Georgie McLaughlin and Joe Barboza. His most famous trait was his memory which he used to confuse those he was cross examining. And he was, of course, John Fitzgerald’s partner in their law practice in Everett. In 1972 his workload had made him the bane of the bench as he was juggling 89 defendants at one time. Like Ronny Chisholm, he was also involved in local politics. 



Lara:

 

Farese’s career had a bit of a bumpy start. He was cited for contempt in 1953. According to Ruth Peel, the wife of the man he was defending on armed robbery charges, Farese approached her in the hallway of the courthouse, and told her that her husband would be in danger of being stabbed in prison if he insisted on testifying. The judge sentenced Farese to a year in prison, but after a year-long appeal Farese was cleared of all charges.



Nina:

 

In addition to Barboza, Georgie and Femia, his client list included Roy French who we’ll be discussing in the Teddy Deegan episodes. Following the bombing of Fitzgerald, Farese said he lived in fear for years. 



Lara:

 

There will be more to come about these lawyers, but for now we’re bidding you farewell. 

 

Next week we’re going to Winter Hill. We’ll be reprising Jimmy and Stevie Flemmi and their cohorts, Johnny Martorano, Frank Salemme, and Howie Winter. Hope you listen in.



Nina and Lara:

 

Bye!