Sentence Handed Down in Tulsa Related Murder

Saturday, February 28th 2004, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

MIAMI - Convicted mobster Stephen "The Rifleman" Flemmi has been sentenced to life in prison on his guilty plea to the 1982 killing of World Jai Alai executive John Callahan, whose body was found in the trunk of a car.

Flemmi, 69, entered the plea on Thursday before Circuit Judge Scott Silverman in Miami and was sentenced to concurrent terms of life without parole, plus 30 years.

Flemmi has been jailed since 1995 and was sentenced to life in January for his role in 10 other murders. He is awaiting sentencing in Oklahoma on another murder charge involving World Jai Alai.

Flemmi and FBI informant James "Whitey" Bulger were leaders of the so-called Winter Hill Gang, a group that ran loan-sharking, drug and gambling rackets in the Boston area and were part of a long-running scandal over the relationship between the Boston FBI and its underworld informants.

Flemmi struck a plea deal with prosecutors after fingering his former FBI handler, H. Paul Rico, for allegedly helping to set up the 1981 murder in Tulsa, Okla., of World Jai Alai owner Roger Wheeler.

Rico, 78, who retired from the FBI in 1975 and became security boss of World Jai Alai, was arrested in October in Miami and brought to Oklahoma to face a first-degree murder charge. But Rico, who had a heart condition, died last month at a Tulsa hospital.

Federal prosecutors have called the Bulger-Flemmi reign "one of the darkest chapters in the history of law enforcement."

Investigators still believe Flemmi may provide them with information that could lead to additional indictments, possibly against other FBI agents or police officers who may have steered the gang toward informants who were assisting law enforcement officials.

Callahan's decomposing body was found in the trunk of a Cadillac parked in a long-term parking garage at Miami International Airport.