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Last Updated: Thursday, 26 July 2007, 19:28 GMT 20:28 UK
Huge payout for men framed by FBI
By Kim Ghattas
BBC News, Washington

FBI logo
The convictions date from 1965
A federal judge in Boston has ordered the US government to pay out more than $100m (50m) in the case of four wrongly convicted men.

The four were convicted in 1965 of the murder of gangster Edward Teddy Deegan.

They spent decades in prison after the FBI withheld evidence of their innocence. Two died in jail.

The two survivors, and the families of the other two, successfully sued the federal government for malicious prosecution.

The lawyers of Peter Limone, now 73, and of Joseph Salvati, 74, said the two men had waited a lifetime for this moment.

They and their now deceased friends Louis Greco and Henry Tameleo were accused and convicted of killing Deegan in a small alley during a robbery in Boston.

Mr Limone and Mr Salvati were then exonerated in 2001, after FBI memos dating back to the murder surfaced showing the men had been framed.

'Collateral damage'

In this latest case, lawyers for Mr Salvati, Mr Limone and the families of the two others argued that Boston FBI agents knew that mob hitman Joseph Barboza had lied when he named the four as Deegan's killers.

Mr Barboza, they said, was trying to protect a fellow FBI informant, Vincent Flemmi, who was involved in the Deegan murder.

And the lawyers said the four men were seen as acceptable collateral damage at a time when the FBI was trying to take the Mafia down through the use of criminal informants.

During the lengthy civil trial, the government had argued that the federal authorities could not be held responsible for the results of a state prosecution.

But US district judge Nancy Gertner, who ruled on the case, said it took 30 years to uncover the injustice, and that the government's position was, in a word, "absurd".

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