Today in Boston federal court it was geriatric gangster vs. geriatric gangster.
Stephen “The Rifleman” Flemmi, came into court disheveled, looking like the eccentric uncle you don’t want at a wedding, and smiled at his former criminal compatriot Frances “Cadillac Frank” Salemme. Then he recounted the 10 murders he committed, many with Salemme, which included two of his girlfriends, Debra Davis and Deborah Hussey, who was also his stepdaughter.
Salemme was back in court a day after he fell out of his wheelchair on his way in and was excused. Both wrinkly wiseguys are 84, frail shells of their former feared selves.
Flemmi has been working for the FBI since 1968 – the same year he and Salemme blew up an Everett lawyer with a car bomb. The attorney, John Fitzgerald, climbed into his car after work, turned the key and detonated two sticks of dynamite beneath the vehicle. He lost his right leg below the knee.
Crooked FBI Agent Paul Rico told Flemmi he was the prime suspect, and he went on the lam with Salemme and hitman John Martorano. Salemme went away for the attempted hit but Flemmi, with the help of the FBI, was cleared.
After Flemmi’s testimony was done for the day and was being led out, Cadillac Frank Salemme twirled his finger at his temple to say the Rifleman is nuts and mimicked a stroke victim drooling. “He’s soft,” he said to the media pool as Flemmi led out of court. “He had a stroke.”
Michele McPhee is a best selling true crime author; three-time Emmy-nominated television investigative producer in Boston for ABC News Brian Ross Investigative Unit; award-winning columnist; magazine contributor.