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Ex-Boston FBI Agent Held in Mob Slaying

October 10, 2003|From Associated Press

BOSTON — A former FBI agent who handled high-ranking mob informants was arrested Thursday and charged with murder for allegedly helping to set up a 1981 mob hit on an Oklahoma businessman.

H. Paul Rico, 78, was arrested at his home near Miami in the slaying of 55-year-old Roger Wheeler, who was shot in the head at a Tulsa, Okla., country club after a round of golf.

Rico's arrest was the latest turn in a long-running scandal over the cozy relationship between the Boston FBI and its underworld informants. Last year, a former FBI agent was convicted of protecting gangsters, including James "Whitey" Bulger, who is on the FBI's "10 Most Wanted" list.

Investigators said Wheeler's slaying was linked to his purchase of World Jai Alai and his suspicion that money was being skimmed from the Florida company. At the time, Rico was retired from the FBI and was head of security for World Jai Alai.

They also said Rico provided John Martorano, a hit man for Boston's Winter Hill gang, with information on Wheeler's schedule so he could be killed. Martorano admitted pulling the trigger and is awaiting sentencing.

Rico "flat-out categorically denies this," his attorney, William Cagney III, told Associated Press. "He never assisted the Winter Hill gang in trying to get inside information so they could ... do away with people."

Rico was jailed in Florida. Gail Marcinkiewicz, a spokeswoman for the Boston FBI, declined to comment.

Rico spent 24 years with the FBI, specializing in organized crime in Boston in the 1960s and '70s. His informants included mobster Stephen "The Rifleman" Flemmi.

Bulger, the boss of the Winter Hill gang, Flemmi and Martorano were charged in Wheeler's murder in 2001 in Oklahoma.

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