Boston University School of Law

September 1, 2007

Local and national media wait outside the courthouse.
Local and national media wait outside the courthouse.
 
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Austin J. McGuigan ('72), Joseph Salvati, Marie Salvati and Victor Garo ('65)
Austin J. McGuigan ('72), Joseph Salvati, Marie Salvati and Victor Garo ('65)
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Peter Limone and Joseph Salvati
Peter Limone and Joseph Salvati
 
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Victor Garo answers questions with Joseph and Marie Salvati
Victor Garo answers questions with Joseph and Marie Salvati
 
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Local Media interviews the Salvati's, McGuigan and Garo.
Local Media interviews the Salvati's, McGuigan and Garo.
 
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Marie Salvati
"We have our good name back after 40 years," said Marie Salvati.
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Victor Garo with his assistant of 29 years, Clair Newnan.
Victor Garo with his assistant of 29 years, Clair Newnan.
 
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Joseph B. Burns ('82), Austin J. McGuigan ('72) and Victor Garo ('65)
Joseph B. Burns ('82), Austin J. McGuigan ('72) and Victor Garo ('65)
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Dan Rea ('74) interviews Dean Maureen O'Rourke
Dan Rea ('74) interviews Dean Maureen O'Rourke
 
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Joseph Salvati, Victor Garo and Peter Limone
Joseph Salvati, Victor Garo and Peter Limone
 
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BU Law Alumni Victorious in Landmark Civil Suit

The verdict arrived nearly 39 years to the day Joseph Salvati, Peter Limone, Louis Greco and Henry Tameleo were convicted of a murder they did not commit. Both Greco and Tameleo would die behind bars while Salvati and Limone would serve 30 years of a life sentence for a crime based on the untruthful testimony of Joseph “The Animal” Barboza, a valuable FBI informant in the 1960’s. On July 26th, after decades of imprisonment and lengthy legal battles, the men convicted of the slaying and their families received the single largest sum ever awarded from the federal government under the Federal Tort Claims Act.

“There is no scientific method for deciding how much money constitutes lack of life,” said U.S. District Court Judge Nancy Gertner, who ordered the federal government to pay over $101 million for its role in the wrongful conviction. The landmark decision was delivered to a packed courtroom of friends, family and attorneys who remained committed to the case over the years: Victor Garo ( ‘65), Austin J. McGuigan (‘72), Joseph Burns (‘82) and Dan Deutsch (‘86). BU Law alumni and WBZ-TV reporter, Dan Rea (‘74) helped draw attention to the case.

Victor Garo, the lead attorney for Joseph Salvati, tenaciously searched for information that would help prove not only his client’s innocence but also that the FBI conspired to frame Salvati and the others. The men had been wrongfully convicted based on the uncorroborated testimony of mob hit man, Barboza, who Gertner referred to as the FBI’s “poster-boy for the witness protection program.” Salvati and Limone were eventually released from prison and charges against them were dropped.

In what Gertner offered as “the best analogy I can give,” she called the case “not merely an incident where a passerby watches a fire. They (the FBI) started the fire. They provided the spark and kindling and kept this fire going.”

Gertner’s admonishment of the FBI came after determining that the FBI not only knew of the four men’s innocence in the murder but also that their key witness Barboza was lying. Claiming his testimony “checked out,” the FBI, including senior staff close to FBI Director, J. Edgar Hoover, aimed to protect Barboza, who they heralded as their credible witness in their mission to take down the Mafia. Gertner criticized the Boston bureau of the FBI for the way in which four innocent men were treated as “collateral damage,” in order to protect Barboza.

"The government's position is, in a word, absurd," Gertner said, and confirmed that Garo and the other attorneys had conclusively proved malicious prosecution, negligence, conspiracy and intentional infliction of emotion distress. The Justice Department attorneys argued that the FBI had no duty to disclose exculpatory information to state prosecutors or defense attorneys in the murder trial. They claimed the state prosecuted the four men after their own extensive independent investigation.

Garo stated that although he was pleased by the verdict, no amount of money could ever give back to an individual 30 years of wrongful imprisonment. In the press conference that followed Garo thanked the team of lawyers responsible for the triumphant decision as well as Rea, who diligently covered developments in the case for over 20 years.

“We’re very proud of our alumni,” said Dean Maureen O’Rourke, on hand to hear the verdict. “They fought long and hard to win justice for their client. Their efforts show how important pro bono work can be and what a difference it can make in people’s lives. They are great role models for the legal community and especially for our students at BU Law.”

Reported by Sara Gelston

Photo Credit: Sara Gelston