At Long Last:
One year after the sensational trial of Boston crime boss “Whitey” Bulger, many troubling issues remain unresolved, denying “Closure” to the loved ones of men and women brutally murdered by Bulger and his associates. In a 2-1 split Decision, an Appellate Court in Florida has reversed the 2008 murder conviction of FBI Agent John Connolly for his role in the 1982 murder of businessman John Callahan. A jury in that trial found that Connolly tipped off Bulger that Callahan would likely implicate Bulger in the 1981 murder of Roger Wheeler, the owner of a Jai Alai sports franchise in Florida from which profits were being skimmed by Bulger's gang. The 2 Judges in the Majority ruling determined that a legal technicality forced their Decision, that being a 2nd Degree Murder charge that avoided State Statutes of Limitations by invoking the use of a firearm of Defendant Connolly in the course of the commission of the crime.
Connolly did in fact have a firearm on his person when he tipped off Bulger about Callahan - his Service Revolver issued to him as an Agent of the FBI. That gun was not the one used by a Bulger subordinate who, on Bulger’s orders, murdered Callahan. The Dissenting Judge wrote that this did not matter from a legal standpoint - that the murder of Callahan was brought about when Agent Connolly, while in possession of his own firearm, illegally revealed confidential law enforcement information to Bulger who, prompted by that information, ordered the murder of Callahan.
This Court ruling sent the case back to a lower Court for further pending review, eliciting outrage from family members of Bulger victims; Mary Callahan, the wife of John Callahan, Pat Donahue, the wife of Michael Donahue, killed by Bulger and an accomplice as an innocent bystander, and Steve Davis, the brother of Debra Davis, one of two young women brutally murdered. (1)
Previously, in 2002, Connolly had been put on trial in Boston Federal Court on charges that he tipped off Whitey Bulger in December, 1994 that he was about to be arrested on extortion and racketeering charges. Connolly was convicted of giving Bulger the warning that resulted in his going on the lam for 16 years. Agent Connolly was also convicted of writing a “poison-pen letter” to Federal Judge Mark Wolf which Connolly fabricated on stolen Boston Police Department stationery which falsely accused Boston Police Department Detective Frank Dewan of fabricating evidence against Bulger. (2)
Federal Prosecutions of murders that are the result of a “Racketeering Enterprise” are restricted by certain guidelines. State Prosecutions for murder generally have fewer restrictions. The difference is the RICO statutes enacted by Congress in 1970, authored by G. Robert Blakey, now a Law Professor at Notre Dame University.
The crimes of Whitey Bulger and the corrupt FBI Agents he associated with is now detailed in a new motion picture by acclaimed Documentary film maker Joe Berlinger; “Whitey: United States of America vs. James J. Bulger.” Berlinger’s earlier works include “Paradise Lost,” a film on the “Memphis Three” case, for which Berlinger received an Oscar Nomination.
Berlinger’s film chronicles several family members of people murdered by Bulger and how they waited for as many as 2 decades for the Justice the trial was expected to bring about, only to find that their unexpected “ally” in uncovering the truth to be Bulger’s legal team instead of the Federal Prosecutors tasked to put Bulger away.
When, in June, 2011, Bulger was finally apprehended in Santa Monica, Bulger made 2 claims that few believed; that he was NOT in fact an FBI Informant and that he was NOT involved in the murders of 2 young women which were among the 19 murder victims his most recent Indictment alleged. Bulger claimed his relationship with the FBI was not based upon his supplying to the FBI Information but rather bribes of “dirty cash,” for which in exchange HE received Information, as well as protection. These claims were dismissed by many as attempts at self-preservation; having spent prison time in Alcatraz back in the 1950s, Bulger knew that once back in prison his well-being would be threatened by inmates who generally despise “Rats” - Government Informants - as well as those who have harmed women or children.
While the jury in this case convicted Bulger on most of the charges against him, he was only convicted for the murder of one of the two young women. In regards to Bulger’s claim he was not an FBI Informant, what is revealed in Berlinger’s film is the stunning fact that FBI documents that are routinely compiled on “Top Echelon” criminal Informants such as Bulger were not turned over to Bulger’s Defense Team as part of the “Discovery” process in his Federal trial. There are only 2 logical explanations; either the files have been destroyed or hidden because they reveal yet further evidence of corruption in the FBI and Justice Department, or Whitey Bulger is telling the truth, and those files simply do not exist and those that have been turned over are fabrications.
Berlinger utilizes the nationally-recognized top expert on FBI Informants, Angela Clemente, a Forensic Intelligence Analyst, to explain to the audience the magnitude of the volume of missing documents. Beginning in 1998, Clemente and the late Dr. Stephen Dresch began to investigate how the FBI protected FBI Informants from prosecution, and sometimes even facilitated them in the commission of serious crimes. Dresch and Clemente focused on 2 men in particular, Greg Scarpa, Sr. of New York’s Colombo Mafia Family and Boston’s Whitey Bulger.
These 2 men and their careers in crime are very similar. While Bulger once claimed he had killed 26 people, (3) Scarpa once claimed he stopped counting the number of his homicide victims once he reached the number 50. (4) At least one of these was a innocent young woman, Mary Bari, who in September, 1984 was lured to a Social Club controlled by Scarpa, who believed Bari was prepared to "rat" to the Feds about her former boyfriend, "Allie Boy" Persico, who was then on the lam. While son Scarpa Jr. held Bari down on the floor, Scarpa Sr. shot 3 bullets into her head. (5) Whitey Bulger was charged with strangling with his bare hands 2 young women, Deborah Hussey and Debra Davis, both 26 years of age. Ms. Hussey was just a teenager when her step-father, Bulger right-hand man Stephen Flemmi, who was protected as an FBI Informant, began to have sex with her. Once the affair was over, Bulger strangled the young woman to death and ordered her teeth to be pulled out with pliers, in order to prevent identification in case her body was ever found. Ms. Davis also began an affair with Flemmi while still a teenager. (6) Despite these horrific crimes against women, both Scarpa and Bulger carried on long-term, affectionate relationships with women.
Both men also made millions of dollars over many years through deadly and lucrative drug trafficking operations. Bulger's gang extorted from and offered protection to drug traffickers in South Boston, many of whom were former athletes whose appearance betrayed the stereotype perceived by law enforcement. (7) Scarpa dealt drugs directly, setting up 2 of his own sons in drug trafficking, one of whom, Joey, was murdered by rival drug dealers at age 24, the other, Greg, Jr., currently incarcerated for trafficking drugs. (8)
Both men also shared a hatred of African-Americans, and the bad Karma generated from such Racism eventually brought about their undoing. In 1986, when Scarpa was hospitalized for a bleeding ulcer, he refused transfusions from his hospital's blood supply, fearing that the blood of a black man would course through his veins. Instead, Scarpa had members of his drug trafficking crew come to the hospital to donate their blood to him. Among them was Paul Mele, a bodybuilder whose blood, unbeknownst to him carried the AIDS virus. Scarpa soon began to waste away, dying of the disease in 1994. (9)
Back in 1975, Whitey Bulger was so angered by Senator Ted Kennedy’s support for the De-segregation of the Boston public school system that he and an accomplice fire-bombed the Kennedy family’s home. (10) Many years later, on the lam in Santa Monica, Bulger launched into an angry tirade at a woman when she expressed her admiration for America’s first Black President. This verbal assault left a lasting impression on the woman, who later, back home in her native Iceland, recognized Bulger in a CNN report on the fugitive gangster. Her trans-Atlantic phone call to the American authorities quickly led to Bulger’s arrest. (11)
Both Scarpa and Bulger would be protected from prosecution most of their adult lives by the FBI, and they both received confidential law enforcement information they found invaluable. Scarpa would be tipped off in 1987 that his son Junior was about to be Indicted on drug charges by the DEA, prompting Scarpa to send his son on the lam. (9) Bulger would go on the lam when he received a similar tip regarding himself.
Despite these similarities, the paper trail left behind regarding these men is very different. In the Berlinger film, Angela Clemente displays some of the over 60,000 documents regarding Scarpa’s work as an FBI Informant obtained by her through years-long lawsuits and Freedom of Information Act requests. The documents reveal a “chain of command custody,” inscriptions with the initials of those who “signed off" after reviewing the documents, including key Agents at FBI Headquarters in Washington, Cartha DeLoach and William Sullivan among them. Clemente’s analysis reveals that many contain useless or incorrect information, and some reveal that Scarpa used his relationship with the FBI to falsely accuse his criminal rivals of crimes that he himself committed. By contrast, the “File” on Whitey Bulger is only around 700 pages, the information has little actionable value, and the documents do not reveal the “chain of command custody" that are the hallmarks of the Scarpa files.
At Whitey Bulger's trial, a retired FBI Agent, Fred Davis, offered a similar analysis during his testimony. Davis called the information in Bulger's file "worthless," and suggested it had been tampered with. Then there was the testimony of Desi Sideropolous, who worked over 60 years as a key Secretary to the Special Agent in Charge of the Boston office of the FBI. At issue was a document dated November 25, 1980, regarding Whitey Bulger. The document suggested that the "Information" allegedly being reported by Bulger was not useful, and that he should be closed and become a "target." Desi testified that her Boss at the time told her to hide the document in a secret safe. The successor as her Boss, upon reading the document, asked her to destroy it, stating that the document could have dire legal consequences for the office’s employees. Miss Desi complied. (12)
Fabricated documents. Hidden documents. Destroyed documents. The conflicting and confusing revelations suddenly had many observers of this case contemplating what had previously been unthinkable; that Whitey Bulger just might be telling the truth about not being an FBI Informant, but rather someone who bribed corrupt FBI Agents.
In recent years, evidence has emerged in regards to the recruitment of - and protection of- criminals who work as FBI Informants. Prior to 1961, FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover had continued to publicly claim that organized crime did not exist in America, despite Hoover's having made a name for himself in the 1930s and 1940s by his pursuit of high-profile criminals and their crime gangs. Evidence has slowly accumulated to show that Hoover himself was compromised by the American Mafia and that that was why he did not pursue them. (13)
However, once Bobby Kennedy became Attorney General, making him the putative “Boss” of Hoover, things had to change now that Kennedy had declared war on organized crime. Thus, Hoover unveiled a program by which Agents were encouraged and promoted based upon their recruitment of Informants within the American Mafia. A “Top Echelon” Informant was an especially prized catch, someone near the top of a crime family who could provide key information about who was who and committing what crimes. Greg Scarpa was already a rising star in the Colombo Family when he was the first major “TE" recruited into this program. (9)
An avowed Racist who hated African-Americans, Hoover's FBI recruited Racist criminals as FBI Informants during his reign, a practice that continued after Hoover's death in 1972. Under this program, an Informant is “Registered,” becoming in fact an employee of the FBI. To protect his identity, the Informant is given a code number which is used in documents generated at the Field Office, copies of which are forwarded to Washington. Usually, 2 FBI Agents are assigned to each Informant to “Control” them.
Scarpa did at various times receive cash for his work. Scarpa also on occasion was ordered by his Boss Hoover though his Control Agents to commit crimes for the FBI. Scarpa would later end his employment with the FBI in the mid-1970s over a dispute over how much money was being paid to him. Scarpa returned to work for the FBI a few years later and continued into the early 1990s. Thus, Scarpa was employed by the FBI around a quarter of a Century. (9) FBI documents show that Bulger was first opened as an Informant by Agent Dennis Condon for a few months in 1971 but then closed. Agent Connolly submitted paperwork in September, 1975 claiming he Registered Bulger, who was then closed in 1978 but re-opened by Connolly in 1979, and continued to "Control" Bulger until Connolly’s retirement in 1990. (12)
The work of an FBI Informant is perhaps better understood when compared to those others who have provided similar work. There are, in fact, 2 types of scenarios by which a person can become an FBI Informant. One, of course, is the “Official” Informant, who is Registered, Greg Scarpa being just one example. However, the history of the FBI is populated by many people who worked “Un-officially” as FBI Informants, termed “De-Facto Informants.” These are people who were not Registered, but rather supplied information to the FBI and in return received either information themselves or perceived access to government power and influence.
An early such example was the columnist Walter Winchell, who regularly had private visits with J. Edgar Hoover, during which information was exchanged, much of which revolved around the private practices of public figures, but also involved Winchell's role as a conduit between Hoover and members of the American Mafia. (13)
Today, there are crime reporters across America, including New York, who are perceived by their peers to have an informal relationship with the FBI based upon the mutual exchange of information. These reporters are the ones who routinely publish Exclusive stories based upon confidential information which could only have been supplied by someone in the FBI or the Justice Department, and the subsequent stories published by these writers are regarded by their peers as either “Spin” or “FBI Propaganda.”
Former Federal Prosecutor Roy Cohn is another example of a De-Facto FBI Informant, who routinely supplied information to Hoover during his tenure on Senator Joseph McCarthy’s Committee investigating alleged Communists in government service during the 1950s. Cohn, who later represented American Mafia figures as a criminal lawyer, was also bonded with Hoover through their common secret personal life which they took extraordinary measures to keep hidden. Cohn died of AIDS in 1986. (14)
Roy Cohn was a personal favorite of President Ronald Reagan and frequently was invited to the White House. In recent years, Historians have revealed that both Reagan and Gerald Ford also performed as FBI Informants before becoming President. In Reagan’s case, as the President of the Screen Actor’s Guild, Reagan voluntarily supplied to the FBI information regarding members of his own Union during a time of national hysteria after World War II in which members of the Entertainment Industry were accused of being Communists. Some were in fact Communists, but some were falsely accused, and many careers were ruined. (15)
In Gerald Ford’s case, as a Congressman he was appointed to the Warren Commission to investigate the murder of President Kennedy. Given that the President’s brother Robert had launched an unprecedented assault on the American Mafia, in particular Prosecuting New Orleans Godfather Carlos Marcello, the Warren Commission had to investigate the possibility that the Mafia may have been involved in the President's murder. Hoover was determined that the Warren Commission's final report would not be critical of the FBI. Thus, Hoover recruited Ford to regularly inform to him the secret proceedings of the Commission's investigation. (16)
Fortunately for Hoover, the Commission relied upon the FBI for information regarding the American Mafia, thus Hoover could pick and choose what to disclose. Hoover was not about to reveal to them that he had a Mafia hitman, Greg Scarpa, working for the Bureau as a Registered FBI Informant. Nor was Hoover going to share with the Commission the fact that Scarpa was providing information to the New Orleans Office regarding Carlos Marcello and his crime family, information only discovered in recent years by Angela Clemente in her Scarpa files. (17)
The FBI Field office in Dallas also chose what information to turn over, and what not to disclose. Among the facts that the Warren Commission would not learn were 2 key actions taken by FBI Agent James Hosty of the Dallas Office, who had been investigating Lee Oswald for months before the President's murder. On November 24, 1963, 2 days after the murder of the President, Oswald was murdered while in police custody by nightclub owner Jack Ruby. Agent Hosty then received a phone call from Pat Gannaway of the Dallas Police, asking what information the FBI had on Ruby. Hosty then pulled the file on Ruby, which revealed he had been recruited as an Informant by Agent Charles Flynn, but nothing of substance was obtained from Ruby and he was closed when Flynn was transfered to a different city. Hosty was then ordered by his superior, Agent Ken Howe to not return Gannaway's call and Howe took possession of the file. That file would be hidden for 13 years until it was discovered by the House Select Committee on Assassinations led by G. Robert Blakey. (18)
What Blakey's Congressional Committee discovered in addition was that after Agent Hosty handed Ruby's FBI file to Agent Howe, Hosty was then ordered by J. Gordon Shanklin, the Special Agent in Charge of the Dallas Office, to destroy a threatening letter written by Oswald who left if for Hosty at the local office about 3 weeks prior to the President’s murder. Without hesitation, Agent Hosty tore the letter into pieces and flushed it down a toilet. Thus, within just a few hours after Ruby murdered Oswald, the local office of the FBI had hidden their file on Ruby and destroyed a letter written by Oswald. (19) These actions of cover-up establish that the pattern of fabricating documents, hiding documents, or destroying documents by Agents of the FBI is not limited to those cases in Boston, New York, or Washington, but is rather historical and systemic.
In regards to the man who Informed for the FBI on the Warren Commission, it is Ironic that Gerald Ford, once President, was himself the target of an assassination attempt by Sara Jane Moore, who herself was a Registered FBI Informant working for the Field Office in San Francisco. (20) Although sentenced to Life in prison, Moore was Paroled in 2007.
In September, 1975, Whitey Bulger and an accomplice fire-bombed the birthplace of President Kennedy. Because this museum was a National Historic Site administered by the U. S. Parks Service, evidence regarding the fire-bombing was turned over to the FBI for investigation. (21) Given the stature of the Kennedy family in Boston, FBI Agents from that office must have perceived that solving this case would significantly enhance their careers, with the culprits, once captured, being reviled on the front pages of all of the local newspapers.
That did not happen. According to Agent Connolly, Bulger during that time was already in discussions with him to become a Registered Informant. Technically, Federal guidelines did not allow the Registering of an FBI Informant while they were on Probation for previous crimes. Bulger’s Probation for bank robbery was not due to expire until June of 1976. And if Bulger was arrested for setting fire to a Federal landmark, such a violation would have sent Bulger back to prison immediately. Connolly, however, would not be deterred by such legal technicalities; on September 18, 1975, FBI Agent John Connolly created documents that claimed he had officially Registered Whitey Bulger as an FBI Informant. (11) This was 10 days after Whitey had set fire to the Kennedy family home.
Whitey Bulger and Greg Scarpa would utilize the protection they enjoyed through their association with the FBI to consolidate their power in organized crime. Both men spent the 1980s murdering opponents with impunity, while raking in millions of dollars in drug money in the process. When, for example, Whitey Bulger was at last caught, law enforcement found over $800,000 in cash in his apartment. (22) Presuming he only spent $50,000 a year during his 16 years on the lam, the math suggests that when he fled to Santa Monica, Bulger carried with him around $1.6 million, all in dirty cash.
According to the records, Bulger’s FBI Informant code number was BS-1544-TE. (11) Greg Scarpa was known in the FBI by his code number, NY-3461-TE. “BS stands for Boston, the Field Office of origin, “NY” stands for New York, and “TE” means “Top Echelon.” Within the Colombo Family, Scarpa used his own code number; whenever Scarpa successfully committed a murder, he would send out to the phone beepers of fellow Mobsters the following number: “666.” (9) At a Court proceeding in 2007 relating to the various crimes of Greg Scarpa, Colombo member Anthony Scarpati was revealed to have said to Greg Scarpa, Jr., in regards to their murder of young Mary Bari: “We’re going to probably go to Hell for this!” (5) One of Whitey Bulger's favorite sayings was: "Let's all go to Hell together!" (23)
If Whitey Bulger is telling the truth about not being an FBI Informant, that would mean that the documents detailing such were fabricated by Connolly, whose career advanced due to this high-level recruitment. Bulger also claims that he was further protected from prosecution by a Federal Prosecutor who issued him a carte-blanch license to commit crimes, including murder, in exchange for his role in protecting the Prosecutor from an alleged Contract to kill him issued by rival Mafia figures in Boston. In a 2013 Court ruling, Judge Richard G. Stearns rejected this argument, noting that "A license to kill is even further beyond the pale and one unknown even in the earliest formulations of the common law." (24)
There have, in fact, been cases where members of the American Mafia have been recruited by FBI Agents as Informants, yet the paper trail left behind is not clear. One such case involved Sal Miciotta, a murderer and drug dealer for the Colombo Mafia Family. Miciotta was recruited in mid 1993 as the Feds were involved in investigating an internal “Mob War” within the Colombo Family that began at the dawn of the decade. Greg Scarpa was an active participant in this war and investigators have determined that Scarpa himself committed murders that others were falsely convicted of. (17)
Members of an elite NYPD-FBI Organized Crime Task Force were convinced that confidential information compiled by the Task Force was being secreted to members of the Colombo Family. This was while Scarpa’s status as an FBI Informant was still a secret so investigators looked elsewhere in order to identify the culprit. Sal Miciotta said he knew who that person was, and in exchange for revealing that person, Miciotta was offered Immunity from Prosecution for several murders he was involved in. One such involved the 1982 hit on Joseph Peraino and his son, as the Colombo Family fought over the enormous profits generated by the porn film "Deep Throat," which was produced and distributed by the Perainos. In the crossfire between Miciotta, his accomplice, and the Perainos, a retired Nun was killed. (25)
Miciotta knew that a relative of a member of his crew was acquainted with Simone, so Simone was then lured to a location where the crew member’s relative was waiting with Miciotta, who was carrying an FBI tape recorder and intending to offer to Simone a bribe. However, before Simone arrived, the other man told Miciotta, on tape, that Simone had refused previous bribe attempts, so Miciotta turned off the tape recorder. Miciotta later maintained that Simone took his bribe anyway. The FBI did not send Miciotta back to Simone wearing a body wire that he could not turn off, and instead arrested Simone for selling information to the Mob. (26) It took the jury less than 2 hours to Acquit Detective Simone of all charges, and 10 of the 12 jurors stood outside the Courthouse in the cold October rain to meet with and console Joe Simone and his family. His wife in tears, Simone told the press: "I was always a good cop and did my job well." (27)
In subsequent trials regarding the Colombo Family War, the scandal of Greg Scarpa committing murders during that war while protected as an FBI Informant emerged. In one of the 3 main trials relating to the Colombo War, Federal Prosecutor Ellen Corcella admitted to the jury in her opening arguments that Scarpa had been leaked confidential information during the war, a claim that would be bolstered by 2 FBI Agents as well as Prosecution Witness Carmine Sessa, a Colombo Family member turned co-operating Witness. In each of the 3 trials, all of the Defendants were Acquitted of all of the charges, even though it was likely that at least some of them were in fact guilty of the murders they were charged with. Some jurors expressed their outrage to the Media. Sal Miciotta would be kicked out of the Witness Protection Program for committing crimes while a member, including committing Perjury during the Colombo War trials. (28)
Although Joe Simone was Acquitted in Federal Court, the Detective was nevertheless convicted using the same evidence- or lack thereof - in a subsequent NYPD trial, and denied the Pension he had earned. In October, 2008, a Special Prosecutor assigned to investigate the wife of Greg Scarpa on possible Perjury charges, referred to the Simone case in her report. Judge Leslie Crocker Snyder determined that Simone was the likely "Scapegoat for the misconduct of others," and also questioned whether the FBI had resorted to a cover-up of the Scarpa scandal in order to prevent the dismantling of the trials related to the Colombo Family War, which is what in fact had occurred. (29)
The scandal of Greg Scarpa emerged just as the similar scandal involving Whitey Bulger was being revealed. In Boston there was a case of another cop falsely accused that paralleled that of Joe Simone. His name was Detective Frank Dewan of the Boston Police Department. During that time, it was an open secret in law enforcement circles in Boston that Bulger was being protected by the FBI. Frank Dewan spent many years in the 1980s and 1990s gathering intelligence and evidence against Bulger. Extraordinary efforts were taken by various members of law enforcement to discredit Dewan, and the situation came to a head in 1995 when Dewan, in order to protect his files and Sources, retired after 24 years on the job. (30)
FBI Agent John Connolly was later convicted for his illegal efforts to discredit Detective Dewan through the “poison-pen” letter he sent to U. S. District Judge Mark Wolf written on stolen Boston Police Department stationery. A similar letter during that time was written on stationery of the Boston Globe newspaper, making similar allegations against Dewan, but this letter was sent to William Bratton, the Police Commissioner in Boston. The letter demanded that Dewan be fired, and that the stationery supposedly came from a newspaper suggested that investigative reporters at that paper, who did not want to go on the record, had determined that Dewan was fabricating evidence against Bulger and Flemmi. (31)
Given that Agent Connolly fabricated these letters suggests that he could have also fabricated the documents that alleged he had successfully recruited Whitey Bulger as one of his “Registered Informants.” No one is questioning that Bulger associate Stephen Flemmi, along with his brother, who were intimately involved with the Italian-American Mafia in Boston, had been Registered as FBI Informants back in the 1960s. What has been suggested by some is that information about the Italians, supplied to Connolly by Flemmi, was instead attributed by him to Bulger. (3)
But even this scenario does not fully explain why there are 60,000 documents thus far turned over regarding Greg Scarpa, but only 700 relating to Bulger, 86 percent less. Either the files never existed, or they existed and were either hidden or destroyed to prevent embarrassment to the FBI, or Superiors in the FBI had legitimate concerns about their validity given the questionable credibility of Connolly, and thus the files were segregated from the main files collection. The truth could even be a combination of all 3 scenarios.
Agent Connolly has always maintained his innocence on all charges against him and has supporters within the law enforcement community. Their claims can be found at their website: justiceforjohn.com.
Just as a Statute of Limitations law involving the use of firearms would later be used to void the murder conviction of Agent Connolly, so would lawyers for the Federal government cite Statutes of Limitations in denying Compensation to those family members of murder victims. 8 such wrongful death civil lawsuits were Dismissed in Court because the brief Statute of Limitations for filing such lawsuits had expired. In these cases, the families of murder victims were expected to file such claims within a 2 year window based upon their knowing - or suspecting - that FBI misconduct was responsible for these murders. Some surviving victims were expected to have concluded as far back as the 1970s that corruption was rampant in the FBI, and thus the FBI was complicit in the murders of their loved ones, despite the fact that some of the bodies of these victims had not yet been recovered, and, in fact, some FBI Agents had lied to the families of the victims as to the circumstances of these murders. Also, Mob turncoats who were used by the Feds to obtain convictions against corrupt officials, including John Connolly, would later be challenged as unreliable by government lawyers in the civil suits. (3)
At one point, in a Court Proceeding, a Justice Department lawyer accused Pat Donahue of being a Racist, citing as "evidence" that she had relocated from South Boston to a suburb after her husband, Michael, who was not involved in criminal activity, was murdered by Whitey Bulger. (3) This was the same Whitey Bulger, protected by the Government, whose Racist hatred prompted him to firebomb the home of President Kennedy and whose Racist tirade regarding America's first Black President ultimately led to his identification and arrest.
Nor would Mrs. Donahue's son Tommy be spared such outrageous misconduct. When Tommy was on the Witness stand, a Government lawyer asked him how much income his father earned in a year in his profession as a truck driver. The question was to establish that Tommy's father did not earn a substantial income from his chosen profession, and thus any subsequent monetary Judgment should be less of a financial "burden" on the Government. In other words, from a litigation standpoint, Michael Donahue's life - in monetary terms - was considered to be less than if he had been a Police Officer as his father had been, or, ironically, a lawyer such as the one posing that question to his fatherless son. Tommy Donahue answered truthfully; he did not know how much money his father made, as he was only 8 years old when his father was taken from him. (3) In yet another Court proceeding, Tommy recalled how when he was 9 years old, he wrote a poem in an attempt to deal with his father's murder. "Speak, father, speak to your little boy," he wrote, "or I will be lost forever." (32)
The $6 million awarded to the Donahue family was later rejected by an Appeals Court ruling, citing the Statute of Limitations. Most other similar lawsuits were also not successful, although those regarding the murders of Debra Davis and Deborah Hussey were. (3)
The murder of Michael Donahue is also significant given that it was mentioned at various times in Bulger's trial in conjuction with that of Patrick Nee, an immigrant who has spent time in prison for various crimes, including armed robbery committed to benefit the Irish Republican Army. At trial, Stephen Flemmi named Nee as the accomplice of Bulger in the murder of Donahue and Brian Halloran and implicated him in other murders as well. The Statute of Limitations for a Federal Prosecution in this case have long since expired. However, there are no such limitations to preclude a State Prosecution. Once sprung from prison in an unexplained early release, Nee wrote a book about his admitted life of crime and also appeared on a "reality TV show" in which he boasted of his criminal acts, which further infuriated the family members of Donahue. (33)
Stephen Flemmi also implicated Nee in the case of John McIntyre, who was abducted, tortured, and murdered by Bulger and others in 1984 because his co-operation with law enforcement threatened to reveal Bulger’s attempt to smuggle weapons to the Irish Republican Army. (33) The FBI had repeatedly told the McIntyre family that their missing loved one was not murdered, but had rather abandoned them. (34) In 2006, the family of John McIntyre finally won a Civil Suit in which the Federal government was found Liable for the murder of McIntyre. A Judge set the award at $3.1 million. (35)
In addition to the various lawsuits, members of Congress have also been at the forefront of investigating corruption in the FBI, with Angela Clemente playing a key role. In late 2003 members of Congress offered a public apology to Boston residents Joseph Salvati and Peter Limone, who spent 30 years in prison after having been framed by the FBI for a murder they had no part of. Key evidence examined were documents prepared by FBI Agent Paul Rico that revealed the names of the real murderers in that case, documents illegally kept by the FBI from the accused. Those documents revealed that FBI Informant Joseph "The Animal" Barboza had falsely testified against the 4 Defendants in order to protect one of the actual murderers, Vincent "Jimmy" Flemmi, who, like his brother Stephen, was employed by the FBI as an Informant. While a co-operating "Witness" for the FBI, Barboza committed several of his boasted 26 murders, and was himself murdered in 1976 in San Francisco while under cover as a member of the "Witness" Protection Program. In his appearance before Congress, Agent Paul Rico was admonished by Congressman Christopher Shays: "I think you should be sent to jail!" Agent Rico died in 2004 while awaiting trial for his role in the murder of Roger Wheeler. (36) (37)
In 2007, U. S. District Judge Nancy Gertner adjudicated in a Federal lawsuit that the FBI was "responsible for the framing of four innocent men" and ordered the payment of $102 million dollars in damages to Salvati and Limone, as well as the surviving family members of Louis Greco and Henry Tameleo, who died in prison before they could be vindicated. (38)
Both Joseph Barboza and Whitey Bulger each claimed at one point to have murdered 26 people. Bulger's body count would have been even higher, according to the testimony in his trial by his associate Kevin Weeks, who agreed to co-operate with the Feds in exchange for leniency in the 5 murders he assisted Bulger in. Weeks testified that Bulger once recruited him to murder Boston journalist and radio talk show host Howie Carr, who had been most outspoken against Bulger during his reign of terror. As described previously in a 60 Minutes broadcast, Weeks admitted he had Carr in the sight of his rifle as he stood across the street from Carr's home, in, perhaps appropriately, a cemetery. Weeks was ready to pull the trigger but declined to do so, because Carr was in the company of his young daughter. (39)
Weeks also testified in regards to how he was able to obtain 25 sheets of Boston Police Department stationery from a relative, which he gave to FBI Agent John Connolly. This letterhead was used to create the fabricated letter sent to Judge Wolf intended to discredit Detective Frank Dewan. Carr himself had published these facts years earlier in his 2006 book "The Brothers Bulger." Although the book was a best-seller, little attention was given by the public to the "poison-pen letter" penned by Agent Connolly. (40)
In fact, this illegal and often effective tactic was perfected by J. Edgar Hoover himself, and taught to FBI Agents nationwide as part of an illegal FBI operation code-named COINTELPRO. The most infamous sort of such a letter was the one sent to the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. in 1964 on the one-year anniversary of the murder of President Kennedy. That anonymous letter, composed in Hoover's office, included tape recordings made by Hoover's wiremen of Dr. King and his associates in hotel rooms across America, and threatened that such "evidence" of alleged moral failings on Dr. King's part would be made public. Dr. King, the letter stated, could spare his family such public humiliation that would be the result of the tapes being made public by taking his own life - on Christmas Day, no less - according to the letter.
Hoover sent an FBI Agent on a plane to Florida where the letter was placed in the mail, so that the Florida postmark would conceal the letter's true origin, that being the FBI Headquarters in Washington. All of this - the letter, the tapes made over many months by FBI surveillance teams, the plane trip to Florida, was funded courtesy of U. S. taxpayers. From FBI surveillance, Hoover knew that Dr. King's wife performed the task of opening his mail. However, Dr. King had just been awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, and in the prior year had delivered his "I Have a Dream" speech to hundreds of thousands of people in the nation's capital. Thus, the volume of mail to him from around the world was such that it was after Christmas before Coretta Scott King came to open the FBI letter. Mrs. King read the letter and listened to the tapes, which did not reveal any such moral failings on her husband's part.
Mrs. King knew, as did her husband, that the tapes could only have been produced by the FBI, and were further evidence of Hoover's determined efforts to destroy Dr. King. (41) Hoover's third-in-command at the time, William Sullivan, would later admit complicity in the creation of this letter, and refer to Hoover as "the greatest blackmailer of all time!" (42) At that time, Hoover was considered by most Americans to be a national hero, whereas Dr. King was not universally admired. Now, all these decades later, Dr. King’s birthday is a National Holiday, whereas Hoover has been exposed for the criminal that he was. Because of this, there have been efforts by some in recent years to have Hoover’s name removed from the building of the FBI Headquarters in Washington. However, there are those who believe that Hoover’s name on that building is in fact an appropriate representation of the legacy and reputation of the FBI, and should thus remain there in perpetuity.
While many of Hoover’s secrets have been exposed in recent years, there are still mysteries regarding Whitey Bulger that hopefully will be solved within a similar passage of time. One such is why Bulger chose Santa Monica, California as his hiding place during his years on the lam, when a 1992 Indictment against several Bulger Associates was brought about by an FBI front company operating in Santa Monica and listed in that public Indictment. Bulger was not arrested in that case, which may suggest that he co-operated with the FBI during that investigation. However, the front company was also listed in superseding Indictments brought against Bulger and his associates in 1996, after Bulger had gone into hiding - in Santa Monica! The front company pretended to be a Hollywood film company and targeted Labor Unions associated with the industry. (43)
The FBI Agents involved in these investigations still lived and worked in the area where Bulger lived, and could instantly recognize Bulger, then a wanted fugitive, by sight. (44) Many members of America's law enforcement community publicly questioned whether Bulger, a criminal officially on the FBI’s “Most Wanted” list, was in fact, un-officially, “Most Un-Wanted!”
The FBI’s film company and it’s operations mirrored a front company set up by the CIA in 1979 which successfully rescued 6 Americans who sought refuge in the Canadian Embassy in Tehran, Iran during the Iranian hostage crisis. This story was later depicted in the acclaimed motion picture “Argo.” A similar scenario was later adopted by Agents of the Drug Enforcement Administration in Las Vegas, who utilized a phony film production project to ensnare “Mafia Cops” Lou Eppolito and Stephen Caracappa, corrupt NYPD Detectives who committed murders on behalf of the man who bribed them, Luchese Family Underboss "Gaspipe" Casso. The trial of these 2 corrupt cops in Brooklyn Federal Court was covered jointly by this reporter and Lou Eppolito, Jr., the son of one of the Defendants.
In the final analysis, it may not matter to some whether the murders committed by Whitey Bulger were facilitated because he was an FBI Informant or because he had bribed corrupt FBI Agents. In either case, Agents of the FBI are accomplices in these murders.
For others, however, including Historians, researchers, and loved ones of the murder victims, finding the Truth does matter. Joe Berlinger and his film has revealed that important documents that could reveal the Truth in this case are missing. This is a film all Americans should see. It should be required study in every High School across the land. It is more than just a Documentary film; it is also a horror movie, and it is more terrifying than any Fictional film that Hollywood could ever produce, because it is real.
J. R. de Szigethy can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
Related Features by this author:
At Long Last: The Conviction of Whitey Bulger
Terror Comes to Boston
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