To Congressman Lewis
US Congressman Ron Lewis
1002 Center Street Suite 300
Bowling Green, KY 42101
Dear Congressman Lewis,
I am a new Kentuckian to your district having moved here from Massachusetts two years ago. I am a registered nurse employed at The Medical Center and feel compelled to write you after reading your Committee on Government Reform report entitled, "Everything Secret Degenerates: The FBI's Use of Murderers As Informants." You and your fellow Committee members are to be commended for bringing to light what was going on. It took a great deal of courage, tenacity, and perseverance to root out the ugly truth of corruption; and all the more laudable considering obstacles you encountered. Please know that your efforts mattered. They mattered for everyone but perhaps most poignantly for "the little guy." The corruption occurring within the FBI, judiciary, and law enforcement was a pox on them all, and it created significant repercussions for ordinary citizens — not just the big well-known cases in the headlines.
One such "ordinary citizen" was Joseph F. Labriola. He was having lunch one day in a restaurant and was arrested for the murder of a Massachusetts informant. Unfortunately for him, he had the same name as a Massachusetts mob associate and was indicted by Grand Jury testimony given solely by Detective William Bergin of the Massachusetts State Police (the same William Bergin documented in your Committee Report). He was subsequently convicted of murdering the informant based on "hitman" lingo used at trial by Detective Bergin, despite the fact the Joseph Labriola had no criminal record whatsoever. The trial judge instructed the jury that there was "no direct evidence," yet he was sentenced to life at hard labor without the possibility of parole, and he was sent to the infamous Walpole State Prison. Appeals were later denied by none other than Edward Harrington, an individual also featured prominently in your Committee Report.
Yes, emphatically, the corruption in Massachusetts and beyond affected people. I wanted you to know about someone who was not in your Report and who is still struggling to be exonerated for a crime he did not commit. In addition to being an "ordinary citizen," Joseph F. Labriola was a Marine. This is where the outrage is particularly egregious and despicable, and it underscores the depths that Bergin, Harrington, and others went to. Because, to a Marine, honor is everything. It is a code; a duty; a way of living. Joseph F. Labriola was also Sergeant Labriola who served in combat in Vietnam and was awarded the Bronze Star with combat "V" and Purple Heart for heroism. That is a fact, though he will tell you he is no hero. He served, fought, and bled for our country (with so many others). Yet, how ironic and unjust that he is not able to experience any of the freedoms he was willing to give his very life for. I can't tell you how wrong this is, Mr. Lewis, on so many levels. I wanted to tell you also that Sgt. Labriola was also an expert marksman who trained snipers at Quantico, including Carlos Hathcock (of whom you must know). Sgt Labriola was the youngest Marine recruiter in Massachusetts.
Your colleague, Hon. John F. Tierney, et al expressed the following Minority view in the Report: "More thorough inquiry should have been made on behalf of the Committee about the relationship between the FBI, informants, and members of the members' families, and about whether those relationships impacted investigations outside the scope of Patriarca, Barboza, Flemmi, or "Whitey" Bulger's activities. To wit I will nod and respond that your Committee cannot inquire as to relationships it does not know about. My sole purpose in writing is to let you know of a decorated Marine who is being held prisoner in Massachusetts since 1973 for a crime he did not do. I am absolutely convinced that factors outlined in your report directly impacted his arrest and conviction, and I am working, with others, to seek a commutation of his sentence on actual innocence and humanitarian grounds (urgent medical necessity).
If you would like to learn more about Sgt Labriola and his situation, I invite you to visit his website at www.freejoelab.com. And if you are compelled to get additional information, you may contact me. I just want to reiterate and stress that your efforts have mattered and I thank you. Your report validates that what happened was wrong and that corrupt individuals did impact others to further their own agendas. In no small way they impacted a combat Marine who was left behind not in the rice paddies but in a Massachusetts prison. Shame on them.
Please keep us in your prayers.
152 Journey Drive
Bowling Green, KY 42104
cc: Members, Committee on Government Reform
July 6, 2008