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Monthly Archives: June 2013
Last week we saw that Jeremiah O’Sullivan learned the Massachusetts state police under Sgt Bobby Long had a six month jump on him and the FBI in the pursuit of the Mafia and they were putting an electronic bug into the Lancaster Street garage.
People still argue today about how it happened that Whitey and Stevie knew about that bug. Some point to the crass Richard Schneiderhan who was a state trooper in the Attorney General’s office who was leaking information to his life-long friend Stevie Flemmi but if it were him the FBI wouldn’t have known; others blame an Israeli private investigator skilled at installing electronics (who I worked with for years and had no problems) because he later did some work for the Patriarca family but with him also the FBI would not have known; but I have no doubt it was O’Sullivan because too much was at stake for him to let the state police succeed.
What also gives credence to my belief is that the FBI and the gangsters knew at the same time about the bug. Corrupt FBI agent John Morris asked a Boston Police sergeant at an after work party when he had a wine or two if the state police had something going on at Lancaster Street. At the same time it was apparent the bug had been compromised. When confronted as to how he knew, he made up obvious lies, some of which he later admitted to after being confronted with them.
I can’t say it was a good week for the prosecutors. Those are the exact same words I used to start off last week’s review. That’s not to say the prosecutors are bad or anything like that. It is the opposite. They’re very good. It’s just maybe it’s me and I don’t understand their strategy.
I’ve been writing that the matter of Whitey being an informant has no bearing on his guilt or innocence reasoning he can be convicted of the charges whether the jury concludes he was or wasn’t. I’m slowly, or perhaps maybe not so slowly, walking back from that position. Between M & M, Marra and Morris, who appeared to be two pieces of coated chocolate candy that defense counsel Hank Brennan feasted on, suddenly the informant issue sticks its head up through the middle of the courtroom floor like a smiling, drooling gargoyle.
It has become the issue in the case. It was put into the case by the prosecutors. They were intent on fighting back against Whitey’s assertion that he was never an informant.
They set out with James Marra who ends up on the stand for five days as a record keeper. He puts in all the FBI files containing informant information he said was in Whitey’s informant file, over 95% put there by FBI Agent John Connolly who the jurors also know, courtesy of the prosecutors, is a corrupt agent serving time in prison, and from the defendant’s opening, if they remember it and are not still puzzling over what Carney’s restaurant kitchen reference has to do with the case, was paid by Whitey to give him information.
We’ve been wondering the genesis of the Boston Globe’s antagonism, to use an easy word, against Billy Bulger. I was reading an article and came upon the term Curley Effect. Here’s what it said:
“There is a concept in political science called the Curley Effect, named for James Michael Curley, who was the intermittent Irish-American mayor of Boston over an astonishingly long period of time, first elected in 1913 and last elected in 1946. Curley had a special disgust for Boston’s Brahmin Establishment—“a strange and stupid race,” he once called the Wasps—and when in office, he did what he could to compel them to leave. He lavished funds on Irish neighborhoods and systematically neglected Anglo-American ones; he arranged his tax policies to redistribute wealth from the Wasp community to his own; and he kept up a rhetorical war on the Brahmins: “The Anglo-Saxon is a joke.” By his last term, the Yankee flight to the suburbs was complete.”
Perhaps since the Boston Globe was owned by a Brahmin family it saw in Billy Bulger the reincarnation of James Michael Curley. It felt an irresistible urge to destroy this monster before he drove them off to the wilds of Maine.
They had good reason to feel that. Billy Bulger has written a book about Curley. He was a great admirer of his.
The writing was on the wall. This time however the WASPS stung back.
A lot of you who have struggled along with me in this blog know at some point early on as we developed a better insight into matters when I tried to throw of the fetters that bound me to a certain way of thinking and approach the story of Whitey’s life anew, going back to the earliest days.
Doing that I found much that we had been told by certain authors that was plainly untrue. These authors, and their minions in the press and Department of Justice, had bought into a story about Whitey that simply did not stand up to close scrutiny. I pointed this out as I proceeded to tell the life of Whitey based upon my background in some of these matters and from independent sources that I could find.
Writing it I came upon two truths I was pretty certain about: Flemmi was an informant of the FBI since the early 1960s up through the early 1990s; and the FBI’s records as to who are informants do not truly reflect a person’s status.
Morris confirmed the latter point today. He said people are not told they are informants, he knows of no case where an FBI agent ever took that “pink sheet:, the sheet that’s on top of an informant’s file and showed to an informant. I suggested in the past that there could be an informant file on all of us and we would not know it.
I pointed that out specifically with respect to the time in 1971 when FBI files showed FBI Agent Dennis Condon opened Whitey as an informant and closed him three months later as not being productive. I suggested without being sure that it was likely Whitey had no idea Condon did that. Now Morris confirmed that was most likely true.
If Whitey isn’t humming that tune to himself by this time there’s not a drop of Irish blood in him. If that were ever shown, then his whole defense that proud Irishmen do not inform therefore he couldn’t be an informant would go down the drain. Maybe Wyshak should bring in a genealogist to trace his background — I’ve read somewhere that he had British blood in him.
I checked to see if the name Bulger was Irish. I found this. “The name Bulger originally appeared in Gaelic as O Boguidir, which according to this site, meant yellow belly (from bolg dohar).” I hope Wyshak doesn’t know that because it would fit into his theory Whitey was a rat if we consider the modern-day understanding of the term as a person being a coward.
However, it has a very interesting historical meaning. So it’s not clear cut. It is an Irish word and being called a “yellow belly” at one time in Ireland was a something to be proud of. Here is one example: “A Wexford Man. called because of there jerseys. A real man, who saved the Irish in the Civil War, the 1798 rising. Also called yella belly.” It’s best not to mix cultures.
But back to Hank Brennan.
I think Margaret McLean a BC Law professor, who has written two books and is seen on TV each morning on NECN and other places, who is attending the trial and is a delightful intelligent woman summed it up perfectly in her tweet which went to the effect that during Hank Brennan’s cross-examination of Morris she didn’t have a chance to tweet because she couldn’t take her eyes off Brennan making Morris look like a liar.
Last night after the jury left the judge and counsel remained behind discussing evidentiary issues for about a half hour or so. The issue is whether Defense Attorney Carney can get some reports he received from the prosecutors into evidence so that he can show – which is a critical component of his case – that many of the reports filed by John Connolly were copied from earlier reports filed by others or were from information gained through ELSUR (that’s FBI for electronic surveillance.) Carney’s push is to show, as we’ve heard for months, that what Prosecutor Wyshak calls the myth Whitey was not an informant is a not a myth. Carney believes putting in 30 or 40 of these reports showing the information preexisted Connolly’s reports will give the jury a basis for concluding everything filed by Connolly in his 209s (FBI for informant reports) was fabricated.
Wyshak is objecting to having them entered into evidence because a foundation for them has not been established. He’s not suggesting that they are not authentic documents, but that the mere fact such a document exists means nothing unless Carney can show Connolly had an opportunity to gain access to it. For example, if Connolly wrote the Whitey told him Tiger Jones is driving a blue car and there is a report from another FBI agent two days earlier that his informant told him the same thing, Wyshak argues that Carney has to show Connolly could have had access to that report.
That’s why there’s been a little bit of evidence about how the FBI informant files were maintained in the Boston office. At one point they were in a rotor which was a file system accessible to everyone and then they were put into an informant file room where access was limited by some system which is not quite clear to me. Some suggest the SAC (special agent in charge) had to approve access but others have suggested it was more broadly available.
I found several things that were interesting in Morris’s testimony. One was the information surrounding the Halloran murder. I never knew before that Agent John Connolly was not around the office much during the time that Halloran had begun cooperating with the FBI. This is according to Morris who said that because he was attending graduate school at Harvard he was not there often.
Morris had opposed Connolly going to that school. The reason is unclear because if Connolly was his best friend as he asserts, why would he not have supported it?
Halloran decides to cooperate and the FBI wants to get him into the witness protection program. We heard about efforts made in that direction and one involved Morris doing a threat assessment which was an attempt to determine what threats existed to Halloran from the criminal element. We’ve seen reports from which we are supposed to infer that Whitey is laying the ground work for doing a hit on Halloran. Connolly is filing information wherein Whitey is telling him about the many people who have grudges against Halloran like the Mafia and people from Charlestown.
I guess while Connolly is at school he is still filling reports from the information he is getting from Whitey. It’s hard to see him taking the time to make this stuff up as the defendant is alleging. That’s probably the best evidence to show Whitey is giving information.
But Morris today tells us that during the time this information from Whitey about Halloran being a target for other people is being written, from which we are supposed to believe Whitey is turning suspicion from himself and is planning a hit, Connolly knew nothing about Halloran being an informant.
The weird thing that happens is that Morris tells Agent Quinn who works under him to rewrite his affidavit. The purpose is to commit a fraud. Morris wants to include Whitey and Stevie in the affidavit, as informants. They are put in and disguised by a designation such as “Informant A-4”. They are not necessary to getting the order but are included so that they can be advised of the wiretap and cut their ties with Angiulo and his group during the electronic bugging operation. Right off the bat the true picture of the Angiulo operation will be distorted and the agents will not be getting the full information that they should be getting.
During the interception, Morris and Connolly meet with Stevie and Whitey. They have their usual few glasses of wine, or at least Morris does, earning him the nickname Vino. Stevie and Whitey are very abstemious when it comes to imbibing in alcohol. They play some of the tapes from the wiretap for the gangsters to listen to. These are outrageous violations of Title III and they had the high potential of undermining all the guys in Morris’ unit who are working hard on the bug.
Morris begins to take what he says are gifts from the gangsters; cases of wine, cases of wine with $1000 in it; $1000 to fly girlfriend to New York; and special dinners with Whitey and Stevie. He becomes a rising star in the FBI. He was sent to Miami to oversee an FBI investigation of an FBI agent taking payoffs from criminals, like what he was doing. He successfully did that job and returned to Boston.
I told about the man’s Machiavellian bent but here’s a view of what he did to achieve that fame.
His name is John Morris – also known to some as the Weeper because of his uncanny ability to weep at the time most conducive to gaining sympathy from people bringing up their motherly instinct to help. We know of crocodile tears and the tears shed by the Walrus as he dined on the oysters. Well the Weeper’s tears fit into that category.
I’m not quite sure where he learned how to do it. Maybe it was a course he took during his college days. He came to the FBI in 1970 via the University of Miami and then a three-year stint in the Army coming out as a captain. The first stunt that we hear about him doing after he arrives in the Boston office is when he plants an explosive on a car’s gas tank trying to scare the owner of the car, Eddie Miani, into becoming an FBI informant. Miani, like Ralph DiMasi, said no thanks. He probably couldn’t afford the cost since in Morris’s world the FBI agent charged money for protection.
Around that same time he did manages to get another informant, a guy named Sammy Berkowitz. Sammy spent most of his time corrupting people in Chelsea like the mayors and operating his gaming operation quite openly. Sammy will be Morris’s only Top Echelon Informant – although Morris meets frequently with Whitey Bulger and Stevie Flemmi he’s only the backup agent, John Connolly is their primary handler.
He had to mention it twice the time when he was talking. He felt quite proud of it although he tried to hide it. You knew he felt proud because it wasn’t necessary to mention it a second time. He was called Machiavellian by a man he wanted to be admired by. That man was Whitey Bulger.
Now if there is anyone who thought of himself as Machiavellian it was Mr. James “Whitey” Bulger. I don’t know if he read the Prince or not but he certainly ascribed to one of Niccolo’s precepts, “it is better to be feared than loved.” Margaret King of Southie testified how when her husband Tommy went missing she went looking to talk to Whitey. Evidence will show Tommy was in the Mullen gang and was a rival of Whitey’s and likely murdered by Whitey. The word in Southie is he was feared by Whitey. FBI reports attributed to Whitey said he had to go because he was getting too wild.
Whitey was getting into a car and she had the audacity to approach him. She said she wanted to ask him if he had seen Tommy. He appeared very agitated that she asked. It was either because he felt guilty that he had murdered him, or because no one approaches the prince without his permission. I’d go for the latter reason.
Whitey lived by scaring people. Who wants to be around a guy who is known for pulling a trigger on people and whose rivals seem to disappear? So for him to suggest this other guy was like himself, Machiavellian, that was quite a tribute.