Skip to comments.White House OKs access to mob files from Hub FBI
Posted on 02/28/2002 5:06:11 AM PST by jackbill
White House lawyers yesterday backed off plans to prevent Congress from reviewing Justice Department memos related to Boston mob prosecutions after Indiana Rep. Dan Burton vowed to challenge President Bush in court.
``We've finally reached an agreement with the Justice Department to see the documents we need to see to move forward with this investigation,'' said Burton, chairman of the House Committee on Government Reform.
Investigators for the committee will now get to pore over documents from the government's prosecution of New England Mob boss Raymond Patriarca and the 1968 Edward ``Teddy'' Deegan murder case.
The lawyers can read the documents kept in Justice Department files but cannot make copies. Burton fired his opening salvo yesterday morning at another hearing in the committee's probe of the Boston FBI's past handling of criminal informants. The conservative Republican announced he would organize a bipartisan push for a contempt citation against the president over the documents.
In December, Bush invoked executive privilege for the first time in his administration to block Congress from seeing ``deliberative documents'' from the prosecutions. But negotiations between the committee and the Justice Department delivered an agreement by the end of the day.
The long paper trail behind the government's handling of its first mob turncoat Joseph ``The Animal'' Barboza in the late 1960s and early 1970s has laid the groundwork for the committee's probe into the Boston FBI's later connections to James J. ``Whitey'' Bulger and Stephen ``The Rifleman'' Flemmi.
Yesterday, former Connecticut state's attorney Austin McGuigan told the committee about the strange twists in his 1970s investigations into mob infiltration of World Jai Alai.
McGuigan said he was stunned to learned from Boston police that World Jai Alai executive John Callahan had mob ties when former Boston FBI agent H. Paul Rico was heading security for the gambling operation in Miami.
Then in 1981, the company's new owner, multimillionaire Roger Wheeler, uncovered the skimming operation and was murdered at a Tulsa, Okla., golf course in a mob hit. Flemmi ordered the hit, according to federal prosecutors.
Rico, who handled Flemmi as an FBI informant, is now under investigation in Tulsa for Wheeler's murder.
``Wheeler said he had all these retired FBI agents working for him who were going to protect him from the mob,'' McGuigan said.
McGuigan also said he was baffled in 1982 when the Boston FBI rejected mob associate Brian Halloran's offer to give up information about Wheeler's murder in exchange for protection. Halloran was later gunned down in South Boston and his family contends FBI agents blew his cover.
McGuigan then tried to talk to Callahan about Wheeler's murder. But Callahan wound up dead and stuffed in the trunk of his Cadillac at the Miami airport in 1983 on the day before they were supposed to meet.
``I was thinking Miami was not the town I wanted to be in,'' McGuigan said.
That said, I am beginning to wonder about the lawyers President Bush has put in the White House. Not that they are crooks, criminal or corrupt, not that their main job is to protect a corrupt President and First Lady, but that they simply aren't up to the job.
Interesting that the Dems would back court action, but only after Burton dropped his demand for:
"14. Anyreport or memorandum by Robert Conrad recommending the appointment ofa special counsel to investigate campaign fundraising matters, and all memoranda drafted in response to Mr. Conrads memorandum, including any replies or rebuttals by Mr. Conrad.
15. All declination memoranda relating to Mark E. Middleton. "
(quote from Burton's subpoena).
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