Still, broadcasting obviously was Kelly’s first love. Ironically, he may have been on the verge of re-entering his chosen field at the time of his death. According to former colleague Maurice Lewis, Kelly was scheduled to give up his bar job in two to three weeks in order to begin work as a freelance producer at WLVI-TV, Channel 56. His first pilot was to have been taped July 14.

At first glance, the circumstances surrounding Jack Kelly’s murder last week no doubt confirmed in many people’s minds their worst hunches about him. Certainly, all those who had warned Kelly about the dangers of hanging out with mobster types were proven right. And those police who had busily leaked all those guilt-by-association rumors were themselves probably feeling vindicated. Indeed, the current police theory about the massacre — that it was directly linked to narcotics trafficking — appeared to lend credence to still another nasty rumor police sources had spread about Kelly: that he was a cocaine dealer. (Kelly always denied such charges, labeling them police distortion of his PR work on behalf of a court challenge of the state’s cocaine laws.)

To at least one of Kelly’s few remaining defenders, Maurice Lewis, there is evidence that he couldn’t have been profiting from drug deals (though at the very least he lived on the fringes of such action). “He had no new car and no new clothes,” Lewis said. “He was driving a gold Eldorado, but it was about three years old and it wasn’t his. It was Vinny’s, and it was all beaten up. Jack never hid anything. If he were a big drug dealer, he’d let the world know. Jack ain’t gonna be wearing moccasins if he can be wearing $150 shoes. And he left home wearing moccasins that morning.”

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