A former mob associate who entered the Witness Protection Program seven years ago after turning on his Mafia friends quietly slipped into U.S. Dist. Court in Boston Oct. 27 for a sentencing hearing that was closed to the public. Just as Thomas Hillary, arrived in court, U.S. Dist. Judge Robert E. Keeton ordered his courtroom locked, leaving reporters out in the hallway as he pronounced sentencing during a half-hour hearing. Keeton refused a reporter’s request for any information about the hearing, including the length of Hillary’s sentence.
Sources familiar with the case said Hillary was sentenced to 11 months in prison, then allowed to walk free since he already spent 1.5 years in custody after his arrest in 1992 on racketeering and bribery charges as part of an FBI sting targeting corruption in the movie industry. Hillary, who now has a new identity, was escorted out of the courthouse on a private elevator, a free man.
Hillary pleaded guilty to the charges in 1993 and admitted that he was involved in a plot by local mobsters to bribe members of Int’l Bhd. of Teamsters Local 25 to allow a Hollywood company to produce movies in New England with non-union workers. The movie company was actually run by the FBI.
After entering the Witness Protection Program, Hillary testified at the 1994 trial of two union officials and agreed to cooperate against reputed New England Mafia boss Francis Salemme. Salemme pleaded guilty to racketeering charges and was sentenced earlier this year to 11 years in prison. [Boston Globe 10/28/00]