John Partington (1929-2006) was born in the Valley Falls section of Cumberland, the son of the late Williard F. And Mary C. (Hogan) Partington, and he remained a lifelong Cumberland resident. From 1955 to 1967 John served as a police officer in his native town. Later, he would become its chief of police (1982-1989). En route, he served as United States Deputy Marshal (1962-1980), Intelligence Officer for the Internal Revenue Service (1963-1966), Supervisor and Inspector of the Witness Protection Program (1966-1980), Rhode Island’s highly-decorated U.S. Marshal (1980-1982), and Providence’s longest-serving Commissioner of Public Safety (1990-2002).
John enjoyed a national reputation as the first head of the United States Witness Protection Program. By his wily plans to keep witnesses and their families alive for testimony, he helped to secure the convictions of over 400 top-level mobsters, including New England crime boss Raymond Patriarca.
Among his non-mob charges were Bob Leuci, the “Prince of the City” who testified to widespread corruption in New York City’s police department and judiciary, John Dean and Chuck Colson, who were key figures in the Watergate hearings, murderess Annette Gilley, who testified about mob infiltration of the United Mine Workers, and Father Daniel Berrigan, a participant in the trial of anti-war Catonsville Nine.
John’s life was at risk not only from the bad guys seeking to kill the informants but also from many informants, since none were altar boys. He courageously challenged “the brass” when they reneged on promises made to the witnesses.
His contribution to the birth of the Witness Protection Program is cited in many books, including his own memoir, Protecting The Package. John was honored by scores of organizations, including the Urban League, and he received the Mayor Rudy Giuliani Award for his assistance to New York City in the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks.
John is the brother of Mary Partington Brennan, a 1992 Hall of Fame inductee and a past president (1986-1990) of the Hall’s Board of Directors. His induction creates the third brother-sister duo in the annals of the Hall of Fame. John, who died in February, 2006 at the age of seventy-seven, was pre-deceased by his wife, Helen M. (Douville) Partington and leaves a son Scott Partington, and two grandchildren, Jonathan and Emily Mae.
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