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Kevin Cullen

The long reach of injustice

Suffolk District Attorney Dan Conley has no problem with the plan by a newly elected member of the Governor’s Council to seek posthumous pardons for Louie Greco and Henry Tameleo, framed for a gangland murder they didn’t commit.

Now, given that Tameleo was the reputed consigliere of the Mafia and Greco was considered a mob associate by the FBI, it might seem that a prosecutor would not be predisposed to clearing their names. But Conley long ago demonstrated he would not let reputations get in the way of justice.

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Conley went out of his way to vacate the murder convictions of Greco, in 2004, and Tameleo, in 2007, and he chafes at insinuations that some in law enforcement will oppose Governor’s Councilor-elect Michael Albano’s effort to win a gubernatorial pardon for the two men because of their mob connections.

“The last thing we want to do is prosecute the wrong guy,” said Conley.

Conley knew Jack Zalkind, who prosecuted Greco, Tameleo, Peter Limone, and Joe Salvati for the 1965 murder of a hoodlum named Teddy Deegan in Chelsea. Zalkind’s star witness was a killer-turned-FBI-informant, Joe Barboza, who implicated the four men in the murder out of pure spite. The FBI withheld exculpatory evidence — not only from the defense, but from the prosecution. Tameleo and Greco died in prison; Limone and Salvati spent 30 years in prison before their convictions were thrown out and the frame-up was exposed.

“Jack was beside himself,” said Conley. “He felt used.”

After reading in this space about Albano’s efforts on behalf of Greco and Tameleo, Conley thought a pardon might be legally moot because the convictions were vacated. But he asked one of his appellate lawyers to check and found there was nothing to prevent a gubernatorial pardon.

“I certainly wouldn’t object to it,” he said.

Jack Zalkind died earlier this year, and he is not mentioned as one of the victims of the FBI’s conspiracy to frame men they considered criminals. But he was a good man and a good lawyer and it bothered him. And it is a reminder of the reverberations of a miscarriage of justice.

“The damage was greater than what appears on the surface,” says Noreen Hurley-Storace.

She should know because she knew Louie Greco’s son and namesake, Louis Greco Jr. After his father was put in prison, Louis Jr. and his brother Eddie went to live with an aunt. Louis was 15 and Eddie was 13. The aunt died a few years later and the boys were on their own.

“Whenever I see stories about this case, what happened to Louis is like an asterisk,” Hurley-Storace said. “Louis was the sweetest, kindest person you could ever meet. He had a great love of theater and was involved in many community and semi-professional theater companies in the Boston area. He had limited skills and never earned much money, but he took care of himself and had many good friends.

“Sadly, he never found romance, and he somehow got involved with someone who wrote him from prison, presenting herself as a lonely, wrongly convicted woman. Louis began sending her money. I am certain that part of his vulnerability to this approach was because his father had been falsely imprisoned. Louis borrowed money from his friends which he could not repay. When he couldn’t send any more money, this person sent him a letter saying it was over.”

Abandoned by someone he thought had cared for him, unable to pay back those who did, a despairing Louis Greco Jr. killed himself in 1997 in an unimaginable way: he drank a bottle ofdrain cleaner.

“It was almost as if he was punishing himself,” Noreen Hurley-Storace said. “People need to be reminded that injustice is insidious, that it ruins lives far beyond the person who is falsely imprisoned.”

Kevin Cullen is a Globe columnist. He can be reached at cullen@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @GlobeCullen.
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