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Pro bono work among topics at LAW panel discussions Saturday

The many paths of LAW alumni

Victor Garo (LAW'65). Photo by Barbra Raus, VolanteOnline.com

Attorney Victor Garo spent two decades trying to get parole for Joe Salvati, who was convicted in 1967 of gunning down Boston hoodlum Teddy Deegan two years earlier in a Chelsea alley.

Garo (LAW’65), who took the case in 1977, worked more than 25,000 hours free for Salvati. After spending 30 years in prison for a murder he didn’t commit, Salvati was granted commutation by the Governor’s Council in 1997. In 2001, the U.S. Justice Department reviewed corruption in the FBI in association with organized crime — including the Salvati case — and decided that all charges against Salvati should be dropped.

Garo and three other LAW alumni will talk about their pro bono and public interest work on Saturday, October 8, from 11 to 11:45 a.m. at the School of Law. Garo will be joined by Judge Barbara Kapnick (LAW’80), New York state Supreme Court justice for New York County, Stephanie Lovel (LAW’85), first assistant attorney general for the commonwealth of Massachusetts, and Bettina Plevan (LAW’70), a partner in the law firm Proskauer, Rose, Goetz & Mendelsohn LLP.

The discussion, entitled Partnering Public Interest with Private Practice, is one of The Many Paths of the Law, a daylong series of panels featuring prominent LAW faculty and alumni. The series, presented by LAW’s Esdaile Alumni Center, will include topics ranging from labor relations and corporate law to civil rights and entertainment.

Garo, from Medford, Mass., had long thought that the FBI had hidden the fact that the murder was committed by others, including the bureau informant who fingered Salvati, killer and loan shark Joe “The Animal” Barboza. In 1989, Garo obtained a long-suppressed 1965 police report revealing that another informant had named mob-connected people, including Barboza and mobster Vincent Flemmi, as the probable coconspirators.

In the 1990s, the possibility of a wrongful conviction attracted widespread media attention, partly because of extensive coverage of the case by WBZ-TV reporter Dan Rea (LAW’74). In 1993, after meeting Garo, Rea broadcast the first of nearly 30 reports on the investigation.

Steven Spielberg’s DreamWorks studio purchased the rights to Garo’s life story, as well as Salvati’s, and is producing a major motion picture based on the case, scheduled for release in late 2006 or early 2007.

All panel discussions at The Many Paths of the Law are free and open to the public. For more information, visit www.bu.edu/law/reunion/panel#lovell. To RSVP, e-mail the Esdaile Alumni Center at lawalum@bu.edu or call 617-353-3118. Those interested should indicate which panels they will attend.