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Body of missing Avon man could be recovered, prosecutors allege

DEDHAM — A Norfolk man accused of kidnapping an Avon father of two said that the victim’s body could be recovered, contradicting comments from the plot’s alleged mastermind, who has said that James J. Robertson’s remains will never be found, prosecutors said.

The claim that the body could be found was attributed to Scott W. Morrison, 46, and was disclosed in a statement of the case filed by prosecutors and recorded Thursday in Norfolk Superior Court. Prosecutors say James M. Feeney, 44, the alleged architect of the kidnapping, has asserted that Robertson is dead and that his body will not be recovered.

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Feeney pleaded not guilty to kidnapping and conspiracy charges. No one has been charged with Robertson’s death.

“When Scott Morrison was interviewed, he said that James Robertson’s body is in fact recoverable,” Assistant District Attorney Lynn Beland wrote in the statement of the case.

Morrison’s defense attorney, Edward J. McCormick III, said the prosecution’s assertion is “dead wrong.”

He said Morrison, who has pleaded not guilty, was only repeating a statement that one of his codefendants made to police.

“Morrison denies ever having said that,” McCormick said.

Morrison and Alfred A. Ricci III, 45, of Canton are accused of going to Robertson’s house dressed as constables on New Year’s Day and persuading him to go with them. The men told Robertson he was needed for a surprise drug test for his probation, Beland said.

Robertson, 37, has not been seen since the two men picked him up and then drove to Ricci’s house in Canton, where he was delivered to Feeney, Beland said.

Ricci’s lawyer entered not-guilty pleas Thursday on his behalf to kidnapping and conspiracy charges in Norfolk Superior Court. Judge Kenneth Fishman allowed Ricci’s arraignment to proceed without his presence in the courtroom.

Defense attorney Robert M. Griffin argued that identification issues may arise in Ricci’s case, and said he did not want his client to appear in the courtroom, where Robertson’s family was seated.

Robertson’s parents saw their son with the two men outside their Avon home before they drove away, according to an affidavit filed in Norfolk Superior Court.

The affidavit was impounded at the request of prosecutors in Stoughton District Court. But it was available last week in Norfolk Superior Court as part of a request from one of the defendants for a bail reduction. The Globe is not divulging portions of the affidavit at the request of the office of Norfolk District Attorney Michael W. Morrissey.

Beland said Ricci admitted to his role in the kidnapping, acknowledged handcuffing Robertson when he got into the car, and said he texted Feeney once Robertson was picked up.

Investigators searched Ricci’s home in May and recovered four rifles and three guns, Beland said. Ricci does not face gun charges.

Ricci’s bail was set at $200,000. He left the courthouse with a jacket pulled over his face.

Griffin said Ricci denies confessing to the crime.

“That’s the government’s characterization of what he may or may not have said,” said Griffin. “He denies all allegations.”

Feeney hated Robertson and obsessed over him because of a spurned love affair, Beland said. Robertson was dating Feeney’s ex-girlfriend, she said. Feeney also suspected Robertson of informing on him, according to the affidavit written by State Trooper Brian Tully.

Ricci and Morrison agreed to participate in the kidnapping because they owed Feeney money for drugs, Beland said. Feeney offered to forgive their debts and provide them with pills if they carried out his plan, she said.

Dedham police Officer Michael Schoener is also accused of providing his badge and other police gear to aid the plot. He pleaded not guilty.

Feeney was arrested on drug charges in February, but prosecutors notified Dedham District Court this week that they are not proceeding with the case, court records show.

More coverage:

In court, new details emerge in kidnap plot

No charges yet in presumed Avon death

Avon man’s fate unknown as police probe disappearance

Laura Crimaldi can be reached at laura.crimaldi@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @lauracrimaldi.
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