- The Washington Times - Tuesday, October 14, 2003

BOSTON (AP) — Mob informant Stephen “The Rifleman” Flemmi pleaded guilty yesterday to racketeering charges to avoid the death penalty under a deal in which he accused his former FBI handler of helping to set up a murder.

Flemmi appeared in U.S. District Court and changed his plea to guilty on a federal indictment that charges him in connection with 10 murders. The plea deal calls for him to serve life in prison.

“I’d like to extend my deepest apologies to the families, the victims, my family, the public at large and the court,” Flemmi, 69, said after pleading guilty to 17 charges. “I truly am sorry. I hope they forgive me.”

Prosecutors described graphic details of the slayings, as many of the victims’ relatives watched from the courtroom benches.

A brother of victim Debra Davis had to be removed from courtroom after hearing grisly details of his sister’s murder. Steve Davis repeatedly shouted expletives at Flemmi and said: “You make me sick.”

Earlier this month, Flemmi made a deal with prosecutors in which he accused the man who recruited him to become an FBI informant in the 1960s, a law enforcement source, speaking only on the condition of anonymity, told the Associated Press.

Flemmi backed up a story provided by a mob hit man who told investigators that former FBI Agent H. Paul Rico helped him and others set up the killing of Tulsa, Okla., businessman Roger Wheeler in 1981, the source said. Mr. Rico was arrested Thursday.

In exchange for Flemmi’s cooperation in the Wheeler case, state prosecutors in Oklahoma agreed to drop their bid for the death penalty against Flemmi in Mr. Wheeler’s killing. Florida prosecutors also agreed to remove the death penalty in another mob killing in which Flemmi was charged.

The federal indictment to which Flemmi pleaded guilty covers the killings in Oklahoma and Florida.

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