Certainly not Jack Kelly. He was now a highly paid TV star, and he began living his version of the good life, living it to the hilt. His wife and four children stayed behind in Framingham while Kelly bought a $12,000 Cadillac, rented a snazzy South End apartment, and began being seen ever more frequently on the Hub nightclub circuit, lavishly garbed in those expensive suits Channel 7 was paying for. His favorite hangouts became Vincent’s and Clarke’s, both on the Waterfront. Nearly any night of the week he could be found at the bar in one of these clubs, even though long-time associates were claiming last week that they’d never seen him take a drink. (“He was a Pepsi fanatic,” said one. “Fanatic is not the word,” said another. “Pepsi’s stock is gonna go down.”) And two of Kelly’s closest associates came to be Vincent Solmonte, who was killed with Kelly last week, and James Martorano, a close associate of reputed underworld leader Howie Winter.

Solmonte, in fact, had a bed in Kelly’s intown apartment. In return for this favor, Kelly bragged to his co-workers, he was granted unlimited free food and drink privileges at Vincent’s. Kelly would tell Channel 7 colleagues that he’d make a point of taking large groups of people to Vincent’s with him, hoping to obtain more free food and drinks per month than half his rent — and thereby get the better of the deal with Solmonte.

He also told how Vinnie was the kind of guy who’d think nothing of picking up a $300 booze tab at the end of an evening — a phenomenon that made Kelly nervous because he knew the day would come when he’d be asked to pay. And unlike Vinnie, he didn’t have that kind of money.

“He just loved to raise hell with those people,” said Richard Susskin, a Channel 7 cameraman. “He’d tell ‘war stories’ about how he’d be with them when they roughed up a guy or broke up a place. He always seemed to be in the background when these things were going on, but we’d all try to warn him. We’d say, ‘You’re gonna get hurt, hanging around with those people.’ And he’d say, “I’d rather hang around with these people than Kevin White. He robs the city blind.’ ‘Yeah,’ we’d say, ‘but he doesn’t kill people.’ Jack always thought that as a newsman he was sacred, that they’d never blow away a reporter. He just never believed they’d turn on him.”

Indeed, the closer Kelly got to mobsters, the weaker his judgment of who they were and what they were about became. “I get along with Jimmy Martorano for one reason,” Kelly told the Phoenix in November of 1976. “I trust him and he trusts me.” Then, astonishingly, Kelly added, “Jimmy Martorano has absolutely nothing to do with anything illegal.” Today, according to police, Martorano is serving a three- to four-year sentence in the Essex County House of Correction, having been convicted of illegally possessing firearms. He’s soon to be transferred to a federal prison, where he’s to serve a ten-year-sentence for loansharking.

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