R. Robert Popeo, famous powerhouse attorney, dies at 85

“Preparation leads to almost everything else,” he told the World decades later on. “It qualified prospects to modern concepts. It qualified prospects to method. It prospects to productive cross-examination and eventually it sales opportunities you to the variety of arguments that have the working day. Then, of program, your instincts have to be very good.”

Mr. Popeo, the longtime chairman of the firm Mintz, Levin, Cohn, Ferris, Glovsky and Popeo and a vigorous chief in regional philanthropic endeavours for a long time, died Monday in his residence, managing associate Robert I. Bodian explained to the company in an e-mail.

He was 85, experienced lived in Needham, and had been ill, but his health and fitness had enhanced not long ago, pals said.

“He was these types of a enjoyment to be on the other aspect from simply because he understood almost everything and knew what was important and what was not,” reported previous governor William Weld, who as the state’s US legal professional had confronted Mr. Popeo in the courtroom. “My only defeat in 111 community corruption instances that I brought as US legal professional was to Bob Popeo, so I in no way forgot that.”

Despite that, Weld — now a Mintz husband or wife — was among many attorneys in opposition to whom Mr. Popeo prevailed at demo whose respect for him greater with every single courtroom encounter.

Mr. Popeo, Weld said, would “memorize every solitary point about the circumstance that could maybe occur up,” to the extent that if an opposing legal professional dropped a would-be bomb in the course of a demo, “boom, he’d be there with a riposte, turning it to his client’s benefit.”

A confidant and close friend of previous Boston mayor Kevin White, previous point out treasurer Robert Q. Crane, and New England Patriots proprietor Robert Kraft, Mr. Popeo represented numerous higher-profile purchasers around the decades, including previous Household speaker Robert DeLeo, previous point out Senate president William Bulger, and former Boston College president John Silber.

As a defender of the impressive, and a energy broker himself, Mr. Popeo utilized his connections for civic good, Weld reported.

“Beyond the follow of regulation, at which he had no peer, he had a actual feel for the people today of the City of Boston,” Weld said of Mr. Popeo’s involvement in point out and town philanthropic affairs.

At gatherings for essential initiatives, “one guy you could count on to be there was Bob Popeo, and he never ever despatched everyone else,” Weld said. “He went himself.”

Mr. Popeo “was a highly effective law firm and a tenacious advocate,” reported Margaret H. Marshall, former chief justice of the condition Supreme Judicial Court.

And alongside with rigorously symbolizing clients, Mr. Popeo “cared deeply about earning the method of justice as best as it could be in the state of Massachusetts,” she stated.

“I arrived to know him best mainly because of his devotion to improving the job,” Marshall said. “He devoted plenty of hours to that — countless, and all professional bono, of training course. This was in addition to the operate he was accomplishing to develop a excellent regulation firm.”

Though he frequently handled tough cases, the odds against acquittal had been steep in 1985 when Mr. Popeo represented Piro, who was charged with conspiracy and attempted extortion of a $25,000 payment for having liquor laws passed at the Point out Residence.

Piro, a previous Dwelling greater part whip, admitted that he had acknowledged a $5,000 partial payment, but stated he was confused by the trade and returned the funds three months later. His very first demo finished with a hung jury, and in the next demo, Mr. Popeo’s entrapment protection prevailed.

“The men and women of the United States do not want the governing administration in the enterprise of generating crime,” Mr. Popeo explained after Piro was acquitted. “It’s a sleazy organization. They really do not belong in it.”

Mr. Popeo went into that trial all set to discredit the FBI agents who testified.

“We knew as a lot about the brokers who would be testifying in that situation as just one could potentially know, from their elementary history, all the way as a result of to their careers with the bureau, including any domestic predicaments,” he recalled in a World interview.

There was a limit to his “no stone unturned” tactic, nevertheless.

“I won’t cross the strains of ethics,” he explained to the World. “I will not cross the lines of law. And you never have to, to get.”

Ronald Robert Popeo, who was identified to pals and colleagues as Bob, grew up in East Boston.

His father experienced been a cupboard maker in Italy who grew to become an insurance coverage agent in Boston — fluent in several languages and a proficient musician on various instruments.

His mom, who was kept from pursuing her own education in Italy, instilled a appreciate of understanding in her kids.

“We uncovered very early that this was an educationally elite culture,” Mr. Popeo claimed. “You could go any position in modern society, in the professions, in social circles, in the enterprise local community if you had an education and learning, no make any difference the place you ended up from.”

A New England Golden Gloves boxing champion as a teenager, Mr. Popeo graduated from Christopher Columbus Large School in the North Close, Northeastern College, and Boston School Law Faculty.

“Law will enable me to enjoy a respectable position in the group, economic protection, and a spiritual fulfillment that comes only from community assistance and perseverance to reality,” Mr. Popeo wrote in 1961 when implementing for admission to the Massachusetts Bar Association.

Following law university, Mr. Popeo clerked for US District Court docket Chief Choose Anthony Julian, and then worked for the US Justice Division and the point out lawyer normal.

In 1966, Mr. Popeo married Brenda Elizabeth Heffernan.

He joined Mintz, Levin, Cohn and Glovsky as a spouse — a initially at the agency. In 1971, the business was renamed Mintz, Levin, Cohn, Glovsky and Popeo.

Mr. Popeo was credited with creating the firm’s litigation follow, and its nationally known white-collar legal protection follow.

“Bob has a metal-entice brain and is one particular of the most determined battlers you will come across,” Francis X. Meaney, then-controlling associate of Mintz, Levin, told the World in 1985.

Mr. Popeo also was a go-to attorney for major small business discounts, this sort of as when a Philadelphia businessman tried using to obtain the New England Patriots from the Sullivan relatives in 1988.

“Bob truly was the heart and soul of Mintz, and no a single has come even shut to Bob in terms of affect on the organization,” Bodian explained in an e-mail to the organization. “Bob led by illustration and was a tireless and enthusiastic advocate for our consumers. His good results as a litigator and as a chief established the foundation for what Mintz has develop into right now. I always will keep in mind him as a famous attorney, a inventive strategist, a tenacious force, and an outstanding human becoming.”

A entire checklist of Mr. Popeo’s survivors and facts about a memorial company ended up not straight away available.

No issue who he was representing, Mr. Popeo insisted that each and every client’s situation had to be “bomb-proof” and capable to stand up to any surprise that an opposing lawyer might spring.

That was true away from operate as well, where he could be as tenacious on the tennis courtroom as in a trial court docket.

“He is really, really intense. He hates to shed,” Piro, who died in 2019, advised the World in 1990. “He will do anything at all to acquire. Those are traits that actual fantastic attorneys have.”

As his status grew, Mr. Popeo was knowledgeable of how significant his representation was to several in Boston’s courts.

“Most of my clientele who are in problems,” he explained in 1990, “have my phone selection tattooed on their wrist.”


Bryan Marquard can be attained at bryan.marquard@globe.com.

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