“It took nearly 30 years to uncover this injustice,” said Judge Nancy Gertner of Federal District Court. Judge Gertner said the case was about “the framing of innocent men,” adding that “F.B.I. officials up the line allowed their employees to break laws, violate rules and ruin lives.”
The men were exonerated after the discovery of F.B.I. memorandums, which were not turned over during trial, that indicated the government’s primary witness, a mob hit man named Joseph Barboza who was known as the Animal, had lied when he said the four men had killed a low-level mobster, Edward Deegan.
Mr. Barboza was protecting the real killer, and F.B.I. officials went along, the memorandums suggested, because Mr. Barboza helped them solve other cases and because the killer, Vincent Flemmi, was an F.B.I. informant.