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In court, new details emerge in kidnap plot

James Feeney was escorted out of Norfolk Superior Court in Dedham after his arraignment for an alleged kidnapping.
James Feeney was escorted out of Norfolk Superior Court in Dedham after his arraignment for an alleged kidnapping.Aram Boghosian for The Boston Globe/Globe Freelance

DEDHAM — An alleged Dedham drug dealer accused of orchestrating the kidnapping of an Avon man who has not been seen since New Year’s Day claimed that the victim is dead and that his body will not be found, a Norfolk County prosecutor said Wednesday.

The allegations against James M. Feeney, 44, were disclosed during an arraignment in Norfolk Superior Court attended by the family of the man presumed dead. James J. Robertson, 37, has not been seen since two men dressed as constables picked him up, saying he was needed in Dedham for drug testing for his probation, prosecutors said.


“This kidnapping probably led to a possible homicide,” Assistant District Attorney Lynn Beland said in court. “Feeney made some statements to the effect that he is dead, and he is deceased, and his body would not be recovered.”

No one has been charged with Robertson’s death.

James Feeney’s defense attorney Elliot Levine spoke to the media.
James Feeney’s defense attorney Elliot Levine spoke to the media.Aram Boghosian for The Boston Globe

Feeney targeted Robertson because he was dating Feeney's former girlfriend, Beland said. The woman was not identified.

“Mr. Feeney hated Mr. Robertson because the girlfriend actually chose Robertson over him,” Beland said. “It was revealed during the investigation that this defendant obsessed over Robertson.”

Feeney also suspected Robertson of informing on him, 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 Feeney enlisted a Dedham police officer and two men who owed him money for drugs to carry out the kidnapping.

The men — Alfred A. Ricci III, 45, of Canton, and Scott W. Morrison, 46, of Norfolk — posed as constables and persuaded Robertson to go with them, Beland said. Dedham police Officer Michael Schoener is accused of providing Feeney with his badge and other police gear that the two men used.


“They had badges; they had guns,” Beland said. “They indicated they were there to take him on a random, surprise drug testing.” Robertson was on probation at the time and was undergoing drug testing, she said.

Robertson was handcuffed and then driven to Ricci’s house in Canton, where the two men delivered him to Feeney, Beland said. No one has seen Robertson since then, she said.

During a search of Feeney’s apartment in February, investigators found photographs of Robertson and a tattoo he had, a police baton, zipties, and handcuffs, Beland said.

Schoener was arraigned last week and pleaded not guilty to charges that he provided Feeney with the badge, paperwork, holster, and handcuffs.

A lawyer for Morrison entered not-guilty pleas on his behalf Monday in Norfolk Superior Court to charges of kidnapping and conspiracy. He was ordered held on $200,000 bail.

Ricci is also in custody and is scheduled to be arraigned Thursday afternoon.

Feeney pleaded not guilty to kidnapping and conspiracy. He appeared in court dressed in black and seated in a wheelchair with his ankles shackled. Judge Kenneth Fishman set bail at $500,000.

While court officers were escorting Feeney from the courtroom, Robertson’s father said he spoke to the defendant. David Robertson said in a telephone interview that he cursed at Feeney, calling him “pathetic” and “a waste of space.”


“He was staring at me on the way out,” Robertson said. “It was a hard day.” He said Feeney did not respond.

James Feeney was escorted out of Norfolk Superior Court in Dedham after his arraignment for an alleged kidnapping.
James Feeney was escorted out of Norfolk Superior Court in Dedham after his arraignment for an alleged kidnapping.Aram Boghosian for The Boston Globe

Defense attorney Elliot R. Levine said Feeney is paralyzed, but he did not know the origin of the injury. A 2007 lawsuit filed by Feeney in Norfolk Superior Court says he was diagnosed with plantar fasciitis in 2000 while he was incarcerated in a state prison and did not receive proper treatment.

The lawsuit was dismissed, but letters written by Dr. Edward J. Mostone and filed in the case say Feeney eventually developed “complex regional pain syndrome,” and is permanently disabled. Another doctor wrote Feeney uses a wheelchair and walker to get around.

The syndrome is a chronic pain condition most often affecting the arms, legs, hands, or feet, according to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke. It is believed to be caused by problems with the peripheral and central nervous systems, the institute says.

Levine said Feeney will be cleared of allegations levied against him in Robertson’s disappearance.

“The evidence will show he’s not guilty once we look at the evidence, analyze it, and take it to court,” he said.

Feeney has been in custody since February, when he was arrested on unrelated gun and drug charges, court records show. In an affidavit filed in Dedham District Court seeking a warrant to search Feeney’s apartment, Dedham police Officer Timothy J. Miranda said investigators had information going back to 2010 that Feeney may have been dealing prescription pills.


Feeney’s criminal record goes back to 1989 and includes prison sentences for armed robberies, kidnapping, and armed assaults, Beland said.

Laura Crimaldi can be reached at laura.crimaldi@