Trekking Toward The Truth – A Journey With Others Over The Road Less Traveled

Originally dedicated to the vagaries of matters involving Whitey Bulger and the FBI but now expanded into more general topics.

TTTT - Trekking Toward The Truth – A Journey With Others Over The Road Less Traveled

Judge Stearn vs. Judge Harrington: Why Did Prosecutor Prefer One Over The Other


Darkness Over The
Judicial System

I’ve been on the road a couple of days so I’ve let things slip a bit. I thought by now the three judges on the Court of Appeals would have removed Judge Stearns since it is such a simple matter. Whitey Bulger’s case is a one in a generation case, at least in the terms of public interest. On one hand I wonder at this, then on another I have absolutely no doubt that should be the case because it involves so much more than Whitey, things that have not even been raised to this point. I say it is simple because this case, above all others, like Caesar’s wife, should not have a whiff of suspicion about it which it will always have if Stearns sits.  

Yesterday, Joan Vennochi wrote an article on this.  She stated: “A judge like Stearns, who worked as a federal prosecutor in Boston while Bulger was roaming the streets with blessings from the FBI and US Attorney’s office, should not preside over his trial.”  The judges in the court of appeals can see that even if they believe Stearns is totally impartial, the public will always wonder why he was doggedly determined to keep the case and the court of appeals went along with him when it should not have done so.  Is there something more sinister going on?

Kevin Cullen in his article a week ago suggested that despite the showing the judges really have an attitude of “the public be damned” when it comes to themselves, a sort of quality demonstrated by the Marie Antoinette attitude of “let them eat cake.” They will simply let anything pass when it comes to a fellow judge. Perhaps that in itself explains Stearns’s position, he knows the other judge will back him no matter what

But there seems to be much, much more to this than meets the eye. Is this one of those cases where the prosecutors have hand picked the judge they want and the courts are acting in concert with or subservient to the prosecution? Here’s something I just came across. Judge Ted Harrington was originally assigned the case involving Kevin Weeks and Kevin O’Neil, the predecessor to Whitey’s case. Judge Stearns who refuses to step down was assigned this case after Judge Harrington who was similarly situated was asked to step down. Who asked him. The same prosecutor who is saying Judge Stearns should stay,

According to an article in the Boston Herald by Andrea Estes on December 21, 1999, “Judge Steps Down In Whitey’s Pals’ Case,the prosecutors asked Judge Edward Harrington to recuse himself in the case involving Kevin Weeks and Kevin O’Neil “citing his long history fighting organized crime.””

According to the article Assistant United States Attorneys Samuel Buell and Brian Kelly said Harrington, “Had worked closely with law enforcement officials, particularly FBI agents, whose past conduct has come into question.”

The article went on to say: “”The court held a variety of senior positions in this district in relation to organized crime matters, including both (Organized Crime) Strike Force Chief and United States Attorney,” wrote the lawyers. During those tenures, the charged (Winter Hill racketeering) enterprise was in existence and constituted one of the most powerful organized crime groups in Boston. Such work frequently results in the development of close relationships between investigators and prosecutors. In this instance, those relationships likely would have included agents of the FBI whose conduct has come under scrutiny . . .””

The problem the prosecutors had was that Judge Harrington was in the U.S. Attorneys office in Boston while the Winter Hill gang was running amok. So was Judge Stearns. Yet, the same Brian Kelly who objected to Harrington is insisting that Judge Stearns remain as judge on Whitey Bulger’s trial even though during Stearn’s tenure as Chief of the Criminal Division and First Assistant US Attorney “the charged (Winter Hill racketeering) enterprise was in existence and constituted one of the most powerful organized crime groups in Boston” and the case Stearns is handling involves the alleged leader of that group.

This is the argument the defense is now making for Stearn’s recusal.  The prosecution was quite bothered such a situation existed under Judge Harrington. Now it is quite happy with it under Judge Stearns.

This bothers me. Many of the things Kelly complained about with respect to Harrington apply in a similar manner to Stearns. Yet he wanted Harrington off  and is fighting to keep Stearns on. Add to that, Whitey could have been tried in front of Judge Wolf rather than Stearns but the prosecutors arranged that the charges in front of Judge Wolf not go forward so the case would end up with Stearns. Unfortunately, this adds to the suspicion that all is not right.

It seems strange that the judges are having trouble removing all perceptions of impartiality by asking Stearns to walk away from the case. Aren’t we all better off if Whitey is convicted without any questions that the judge sitting on the case had an ulterior motive in hanging on to it and was hand picked by the prosecution?

It is cases like this where it seems the judges are further and further isolated from the public and seem unable to get outside the Confederacy of Judges that will eventually bring their approval rating to that of Congress. That will not be good for America.









Whitey Bulger Hearing By Court of Appeals Scheduled:

The Desert
Where They

The following appeared on the Pacer site relative to Whitey Bulger’s petition for mandamus.

“ORDER entered by Sandra L. Lynch, Chief Appellate Judge: The government is directed to file a response to the petition for a writ of mandamus so that an electronic version (through CM/ECF) and four paper copies are received by the Clerk’s Office on or before 4 p.m. on Thursday, December 27, 2012. The trial court judge is invited to submit a response to the petition by that date if he so wishes, but need not do so. See Fed. R. App. P. 21(b)(4). Any reply from petitioner should be filed so that an electronic version (through CM/ECF) and four paper copies are received by the Clerk’s Office on or before 4 p.m. on Thursday, January 3, 2013. No extensions should be expected. Oral argument is scheduled for January 8, 2013. Petitioner’s motion to waive filing fee associated with his petition is denied. [12-2488]”

Sandra Lynch was counsel for the Massachusetts Department of Education which was one of the several parties on the other side of me when I represented the Boston School Committee during the days of busing. Her client and the others urged Judge J. Arthur Garrity to impose the busing order which shuffled the poor city kids from one neighborhood to another under the guise of equal educational opportunity. It was mostly aimed at bringing a recalcitrant South Boston into line and did little to improve the education in the Boston Schools.

Billy Bulger was an outspoken opponent of busing. He and others from South Boston were much out of favor with the Boston Globe and most of the people unaffected by the busing issue. It is interesting to see that she is back again dealing with an issue relating to South Boston and another Bulger.

It can be considered a little bit of good news for J.W. Carney that the Appeals Court is going to hear the case on January 8,  2013.  I’m not sure how excited the prosecutors are to have this thrown in their lap just before Christmas with a deadline two days after Christmas.  Merry Christmas?

Would it have made a great deal of difference if the Appeals Court recognized that Christmas is a special time for many people and acting accordingly.  As I suggested yesterday, “I’ve got this feeling that the judiciary has become so isolated that no one is seeing the forest for the trees.” What could be a better example of this when we see it imposing such a schedule during this time of the year? Giving the prosecutors time off over the holidays by extending the dates for two weeks apparently was too much for the Appeals Court to consider.

Anyway it’s a break for J.W. Carney, he will at least have a chance to be heard. He’ll also be able to brush up on his arguments in his reply to the prosecutors.  That reply will have to address the matters I’ve been discussing over the past week. By all means avoid arguing anything about what will happen if the case is tried, Whitey convicted, the case is reversed on appeal, and it has to be tried over again. That won’t happen so Carney should not deal with it.

Carney’s must emphasize to the court that it not let itself to get dragged down into the mud like everyone else that’s been associated with Whitey’s case; he’s got to show the extensive publicity it has received and how the eyes of the country if not the world are watching how the case will be handled; he’s has to suggest that like Caesar’s wife, the way in which this case should be handled must be to ensure that the federal court is seen to be above reproach; that Judge Stearns should be taken at his word that he knew nothing about any investigations into the world of Whitey Bulger when he was in the U.S. attorney’s office in Boston; but the issue is not what Sterns thinks but how the case is perceived by the public who will know that others who worked with Stearns in both a higher and lower position were aware Whitey was under investigation and give some examples of this as I have done; that Stearns is about to make a decision which will relate to himself and his friends in the U.S. attorney’s office involving whether Whitey can go to a jury with the issue of immunity which shows the problem with him sitting on the case; that if he takes the issue away from the jury his decision will be second guessed; that because of the past chicanery involving the federal government and Whitey Bulger the last thing that is needed is a suspicion of more; and that it is easy to get another judge to sit and do away with this unnecessary issue and keep the trial on schedule.

The prosecutors after all their hard work on this case and knowing that there is little to no chance Whitey won’t be convicted on some, and perhaps all, of the murder offenses should not have their Christmas break interrupted. They should suggest in a one page reply that this is a side issue, that they have no objection to Judge Stearns sitting, but to move the case on perhaps Judge Stearns should step aside so there will be no question of the fairness of Whitey’s trial.

I expect the Appeals Court will act with alacrity. We should know by the middle of January the decision.



Whitey Bulger’s Lawyer J.W. Carney Must Stress The Impossibility Of Whitey Being Seen To Have Had A Fair Trial

Southern Sky

I’ve written over the past four days how Whitey Bulger’s lawyer J.W. Carney’s attempt to have Judge Stearns removed from Whitey’s trial has to be tightened up a bit. If not it is likely the Appeals Court will slip away from having to decide the issue of Judge Stearns’s unwillingness to recuse himself.  It will say the matter is not ripe for decision.

Carney must remind the Appeals Court of an earlier decision in which it stated: “The Supreme Court has recently observed that “[n]o right ranks higher than the right of the accused to a fair trial.” 

Carney has to show that not only is the accused entitled to a fair trial but that the public believes that the accused has received a fair trial. (Reading that decision and considering all the publicity surrounding Whitey makes it extremely doubtful he can ever be brought to trial. It is even doubtful the Court of Appeals for the First Circuit can decide this matter impartially because of all the civil matters and criminal matters it has heard in which it accepted and adopted Whitey’s demonizing.  Shouldn’t consideration be given to moving the case to another circuit? )

It is true that a person could be tried fairly behind closed doors. Yet we do not allow our trials to be carried out in secrecy. Our system of government requires our trials to be open to scrutiny by the public. The purpose of this is to show that the accused is being treated fairly and in accordance with the rule of law. So not only must a trial be legally fair it must be seen as fair.

I’ve shown how it was well-known by U.S. Attorney William Weld that Whitey was a top criminal, an FBI informant, and a target being actively investigated by his office in an electronic surveillance operation lasting several months. When Weld knew this, Judge Stearns was one of his top assistants in the criminal division.

All this seems to point to the inappropriateness of asserting the high importance of an accused being given a fair trial while at the same time having a leading member of a prosecutor’s office that was targeting the accused sitting as a judge on his case. And I’m not discussing this from the point of view of the public which has already been shown to question the wisdom of having this judge sit. I’m talking of the federal judiciary itself that seems blind to what most people believe that having a member of a prosecutor’s office that had targeted a defendant later sitting on his case is consonant with the idea of a fair trial. Rather it seems to take the idea of a fair trial and trashing it.

Add to that the notion that this judge is going to decide an issue that will determine whether he, his close friend Bob Mueller who worked with him, and his boss Bill Weld will have to be witnesses at the trial. The judge may be perfectly correct in his decision that this matter is a legal matter for him to decide and not for a jury. If he does, this makes it more tragic because most people will believe he had an ulterior motive for doing this due to his close connection to the case.

Judge Wolf demonstrates in his 661 page memorandum the Boston U.S. Attorney’s office had to know of Whitey’s status as an informant. Bill Weld went to DC to become head of the criminal division. In early January 1988 Weld’s secretary received a series of calls from Susan Murray who was passing on information from her husband Joe about Whitey and FBI Agent Connolly.  Joe was a large-scale marijuana dealer who was paying Whitey in the six figures to use warehouses in South Boston to store his merchandise.

Susan told Weld’s secretary in her first two calls that came separated by two weeks that she had information on corrupt law enforcement officials working with Whitey Bulger and Stevie Flemmi and that FBI Agent Connolly was selling information to Whitey about wiretaps. Weld wrote after the second call: “I knew all this. So this woman is on the up-and-up.”

Weld had to know it from the time he was in Boston. It can be inferred that the top-level of his staff must have also known it.

Susan called a third time a week later. She said Whitey Bulger and Pat Nee killed Brian Halloran and she had an eyewitness. A week later she called again and said Whitey and Nee kidnapped and murdered Bucky Barrett. She told why they did it and where it was done.

After this call Weld dictated a memo ordering  that all the information he received go to the Boston Office saying: “Both O’Sullivan and Bob Mueller are well aware of the history, and the information sounds good.”

This clearly shows that the information on Bulger was possessed by Weld and the people who had worked with him, the head of the Strike Force O’Sullivan and the head of his criminal division, Mueller, who was a close friend and workmate of Judge Stearns. The public will find it difficult to accept that Stearns as a top guy in the criminal division was kept out of the loop on this.

The idea of a fair trial is empty if the public does not believe a person received one. Why in a case of such importance will the public be left with that impression?


How Whitey Bulger’s Lawyer Can Show The People In The U.S. Attorney’s Office in Boston Knew of Whitey’s Depredations

If Winter’s Here
Can Spring Be
Far Behind?

I’ve noted over the past three days that Whitey Bulger’s lawyer J. W. Carney has to convince the Appeals Court that people in the U.S. Attorney’s in Boston at the time Judge Stearns worked there actually knew of Whitey Bulger and his criminal activity.

Jeremiah O’Sullivan, head of the Organized Crime Strike Force, worked there from 1973 to 1989,  Bill Weld was appointed the U.S. Attorney in Boston in 1981 and headed that office until early 1986 when he became be head of the criminal division of the Justice Department in Washington, DC where he stayed until the end of March 1988. Robert Mueller, now director of the FBI, was head of the criminal division in the Boston office from 1982 to 1988; Judge Stearns was there from 1982 to 1990, as head of general crimes and then chief of the criminal division. It seems fair to say that as far as criminal matters were concerned, Mueller and Stearns were Weld’s top assistants.

J.W. Carney has already suggested the obvious that the public would believe that the top guys in the federal criminal prosecutor’s office in Boston from 1981 through 1986 would know something about the top criminals in the Boston area during that time.  He suggests you could almost take judicial notice of this and infers that these prosecutors had to have known of some of Whitey’s actions and have discussed them.  I suggested Carney had to do more than that. He had to show the public is justified in believing these men had specific knowledge of Whitey and his crimes.

I’d suggest Carney show that FBI Agent Morris testified that in 1979 O’Sullivan was told Whitey and Stevie Flemmi were FBI informants and asked not to indict them in a race fixing case. On December 5, 2002, O’Sullivan was asked about this at a congressional hearing. He admitted he was told this by the FBI. Several times he was asked whether back in 1979 he knew they were murderers. He responded yes.

Next I’d show that he filed an affidavit to do an electronic bug on the headquarters of Mafia under boss Gerry Angiulo. Two of the informants in that affidavit were Whitey and Stevie Flemmi.  This operation was carried out from January to May of 1981 just after Bill Weld became U.S. attorney.  During that operation conversations were intercepted showing the Mafia could get Whitey and others to kill people for them.

Weld said: “Jerry and I were very close. . . . And I met frequently with O’Sullivan, every week, as the case against the Angiulos was building.”  The Aguilo case continued for over two years formulating the evidence and presenting it to the grand jury. The Anguilo gang was arrested on September 19, 1983. In the summer of 1985 their trial started.  It lasted through the rest of the year until they were convicted by a jury on February 26,1986.

It’s fair to say Weld was in continuing contact with O’Sullivan during his tenure as Boston’s U.S. attorney. It’s likely the public would believe O’Sullivan briefed him on the evidence especially as it related to the top criminals and that Weld would have told his top staff about it.

The public would also know of Judge Mark Wolf’s 661 page memorandum and order as should the Appeals Court.  On page 200 he states: “By 1984, Bulger and Flemmi were considered by the Boston law enforcement community to be “well known organized crime figures.”  According to Wolf, AUSA Gary Crossen and two DEA agents Al Reilly and Steve Boeri “shared a genuine interest in investigating Flemmi and Bulger” but they feared involving the FBI in their attempt because they believed the targets would be tipped off by the FBI because they were its informants.

Wolf found that at that time it was Weld’s understanding that Whitey had served as a source for the Anguilo wiretap and the FBI was suspected of tipping Whitey off about the state police Lancaster Street investigation.  Wolf noted: “‘Weld knew that his proecutors shared the DEA agents’ deep doubts about working with the FBI in any investigation of . . .[Whitey].”

For the rest of 1984 DEA and AUSA Crossen who was new to the U.S. attorney’s office worked on investigating Whitey. They readied papers to do a wiretap on him and on December 24, 1984, submitted an application for electronic surveillance naming Whitey as their top target. They could not have done this without Weld’s knowledge. Into the spring of 1985 they would continue this operation and resubmit applications to other judges for extensions all of which Weld had to approve.

Judge Wolf shows that there was much discussion and controversy over this because the FBI was opposed to it. At the time Judge Stearns was head of the criminal division. It would seem the public would have every reason to believe if the boss had one of his assistants doing electronic surveillance against Whitey then the head of his criminal division would know this.

O’Sullivan’s knowledge of Whitey, Weld’s knowledge, the targeting of him by Crossen, and the controversies surrounding these matters as set out in Judge Wolf’s findings clearly show that individuals in the Boston U.S. attorney’s office knew Whitey was an informant and was also a top organized crime figure.

There’s even more I’ll mention tomorrow.


Whitey Bulger’s Lawyer J.W. Carney Should Take The Following Steps To Have Stearns Removed From The Case

Sun Setting
On Whitey’s

I’ve talked how the Appeals Court will look for reasons to turn down Whitey’s lawyer, J.W. Carney’s petition for a writ of mandamus. The way it is set up now they won’t have to look too hard. I’ve suggested that Carney has to go for the jugular and not shilly-shally around the issues. For example, Carney in his petition spent a fair amount of space discussing how Judge Stearns’s refusal to recuse himself will result in the case being overturned on appeal.

He tells how difficult it will be to have to redo the case again noting witnesses will have died, the high expensive of the trial will be incurred again, memories will have become even less reliable, Whitey may be less compos mentis,  the victims’ families will have to go through the agony of another trial and things like that.

Carney should understand those issues carry no weight. The Appeals Court judges are not going to  reverse this case. When Whitey is convicted it’ll never be tried a second time no matter what error occurs at the trial level. These judges already have had cases before them where they have upheld monetary awards to victims of Whitey. These judges believe he is the personification of evil. They will be of no mind to give him a do-over trial. Carney has one shot and it is with the jury.

He’s flitted around the edges of securing relief from the Appeals Court but he now has to force, yes force, the Appeals Court to remove Judge Stearns. That won’t be done by talking about things that may not happen like who will be witnesses or what will happen if the case is reversed. It must be done by showing, as Carney did in part, that Judge Stearns sitting on the case will make it appear that the federal court was not interested in giving Whitey a fair trial but had as its purpose railroading him. He must also show the case is widely watched and cannot be hidden from widespread scrutiny.

The first step is to show the international interest in this case. It is being watched in Ireland and Britain  because of Whitey’s connection to the Irish arms shipment that was undermined by an Irish informant Sean O’Callaghan and by Pakistani diplomats who knew of it and threw it in our face when we admonished them on Osama bin Laden being able to hide in their country.

Carney must show that many people in foreign lands are aware of the case and will be watching it closely when it comes to trial. The American federal system of justice will be on trial. We often lecture other countries about the deficiencies in their system and hold up our system as one to be emulated. Our judges travel around the world telling about our system of justice and suggesting others to do what we do. Their words will sound empty to foreign officials if it is seen that a judge with what appears to be a prejudice for the government is sitting on a highly watched case when it was not necessary for him to do so.

Carney must next show the extensive interest in the case throughout the nation. He alluded to this but in a cursory fashion. He must give some hard facts by showing the newspapers and coverage it has received. He should spell out the names of the papers and identify articles that have talked about it. He should tell how hearings on status reports or continuances without the defendant being present have packed the courtroom and afterwards upwards of ten news cameras waited outside the courthouse.

Doing this will make the Appeals Court recognize that the federal court’s reputation is at stake. That it should allow nothing to be done that will make it appear Whitey did not get as fair a trial as possible. Carney should then point out that already that there is a growing view among the public that things are not what they should be.

Carney did a fine job of showing this last point under section C of his petition. He tells how there is a general feeling that Stearns is not the right judge to be handling this case.  He talks of a poll of lawyers, comments written to newspapers, of experts and an op-ed questioning Stearns’s decision to handle the trial.

He should then point out that Stearns’s state of mind is not what is important. Stearns might think he is impartial and free from any bias or prejudice and he probably is. But that matters little. It is what the public will think when they look at the case. I might think I can fairly decide an issue relative to people I am friends with or worked with yet I don’t think I could convince many people of this. We don’t let people sit on juries who have these close connection.

Carney has to demonstrate that the public perception that Stearns should not be sitting is based on substantial evidence that he is partial toward the government or that he is trying to cover-up something on behalf of others. I noted yesterday Carney did this in a general sense by telling of all the bad things Whitey is accused of doing. I said that was not enough because it did not show that during the time Stearns was in the U.S. attorney’s office in Boston that people in the office knew about Whitey and his criminal activities.

Fortunately for Carney he can make that showing. He can show the people in that office knew Whitey was murdering people, running drug operations and was otherwise a top-level gangster. These are people all around Stearns. Maybe Stearns is leveling when he says he knew nothing about it but the public will surely view him sitting on the case with a jaundiced eye.

Then, and only then, must Carney suggest that any decision Stearns makes will reflect badly on the federal judicial system in this highly watched case because people will have solid and substantial facts to show that people in the U.S. attorney’s office in Boston some of whom are Stearns’s friends knew about Whitey. Carney can then say it follows any decisions by Stearns will  impact his friends.

Judge Stearns is now about to do decide on the immunity issue. If he decides that issue cannot go to the jury a widespread distrust of the federal judiciary will occur in this case. What will be tragic is that it is so simple to not have had to deal with this issue. That in itself makes one wonder why it is left to fester like this.

Tomorrow I’ll show how Carney can show the prosecutors in the U.S. attorney’s office who worked with Stearns in Boston knew of Whitey and his criminal activity.



A Correction With Respect To Judge Stearns And My Apology For An Erroneous Conclusion

I was genuinely puzzled at why Judge Stearns would not recuse himself. I wrote yesterday how Joseph Murray’s wife gave the head of the Justice Department’s criminal division in Washington, DC information relative to Whitey Buger and Stevie Flemmi and their involvement in murders and with the FBI.

Weld referred this matter to the then US Attorney Frank McNamara and to Strike Force Chief Jeremiah O’Sullivan for investigation. I knew that Judge Stearns had been head of the criminal division when Weld there and assumed that McNamara, who had no prosecutorial criminal experience, would have kept Stearns as the head of his criminal division. I figured the first thing McNamara would have done is called Stearns in and hand him the package that Weld sent him and ask him for his advice. It turns out that would have been the last thing that McNamara would have done.

I say that because I found on the net today as I was preparing today’s post the following article in the New York Times.  That article said: “Bad feelings between Mr. McNamara and some of his staff members date from his appointment in April 1987. . . . After his confirmation, Mr. McNamara angered some of his staff members by making decisions that they said were motivated by partisan politics. He demoted Richard Stearns, a liberal Democrat who was his top deputy, and replaced him with a conservative.”

I wrote earlier today that I have never questioned Stearns’s ethics or integrity. Yet I could not figure how he could have denied any knowledge of an investigation of Whitey Bulger if he had been McNamara’s head of the criminal division. Rather than being puzzled, I wrote about it in part thinking that Stearns may have forgotten that incident.

I see now the reason Stearns could claim ignorance of anything involving Joseph Murray. He was on the outs with McNamara and out of the loop. He would have known nothing about the matters that Weld referred to McNamara. For that I owe Judge Stearns an apology for assuming something I had no right to assume.

I said in my post yesterday, “Carney should be permitted to explore . . .  why did McNamara do nothing about the material Weld sent to him? What was Stearns’s relationship to McNamara at that time?” Now that we know, I don’t see this as a valid avenue that Carney can use for his recusal motion.


Here’s The Problem With Judge Stearns Not Recusing Himself In Whitey Bulger’s Case?

(Today I’m off to the hearing in Boston.  Come back later in the day around five or so and if I have an internet connection I’ll let you know what happened.)

(I wrote a correction to this blog the next day.)

Judge Stearns wrote on July 17, 2012  in response to J.W. Carney’s motion that he recuse himself from Whitey’s trial that he was denying the motion “Because at no time during my service as an AUSA did I participate in or have any knowledge of any case or investigation in which defendant was a subject or target.”

A  person who comments on my blog reminded me of the circumstances surrounding Joseph Murray.  As I’ve previously written a lot more is carried about these matters in that comment section of my blog. Any person really interested in other views might want to take a peek at it.

Here’s the setting.  Bill Weld the former US Attorney in Boston from 1981 to 1986 was promoted to be head of the criminal division of the Justice Department in Washington, DC in 1986.  He resigned in March 27, 1988. Jeremiah O’Sullivan was in the US Attorney’s office from 1973 to 1989, most of the time with the Organized Crime Strike Force; Robert Mueller, now director of the FBI, was in the Boston office from 1982 to 1988; Judge Stearns was there from 1982 to 1990.  Stearns was made chief of the criminal division on December 23, 1984 and presumably held that post until 1990. When Weld left, Frank McNamara was appointed US Attorney. He served  from 1987 to 1989.

On January 6, 1988, Weld was in DC, McNamara, Mueller and Stearns in the US attorney’s office in Boston, and AUSA O’Sullivan with the Strike Force in Boston. Here is what happened that day according to findings by Judge Wolf and as set forth in Ralph Ranalli’s book, Deadly Alliance. Weld’s secretary in DC received a call from a woman stating she had information about corrupt law enforcement officials who were working with Whitey Bulger and Stevie Flemmi. She begged the woman not to pass the information back to  the authorities in Boston. Weld received the note, thought it interesting and told his secretary to talk to the woman again if she called.

Two weeks later she did. She said John Connolly and a Boston police deputy Walsh were selling information to Whitey and Stevie about wiretaps. Weld wrote that he knew something about this and forwarded the memo to an associate.

A week later the woman called again saying, according to the secretary’s note,  “I have information on the Brian Holloran (sic) killing.  It was done by Whitey Dulger (sic) and Pat Nee. I may possibly have an eyewitness [informant] who may possibly come forward.”

On February 3, 1988 at 3:04 pm she called again. She said, “Whitey Bulger and Pat Nee, they also kidnapped Arthur, nickname, Bucky, Barret looking for money from the Medford Bank Depositor’s Trust.  They held him and went to his house and took $300,000 and then they killed him. . . .”

Weld then dictated his own memo. He ordered the notes of the calls be sent to Boston to McNamara and O’Sullivan. Weld wrote, “Both O’Sullivan and Bob Mueller are well aware of the history, and the information sounds good.”

A week later the mystery woman (who would turn out to be Joseph Murray’s wife. Murray was a large marijuana importer who paid hundreds of thousands of dollars to Whitey to operate) called again and talked about having a witness who talked to Bulger and Nee in the car just before the shooting.

Ranalli writes: “A month or two later Weld ran into Frank McNamara . . . and urged him to do something about the memos he sent. “We need to talk about this,” he told his successor.”  Shortly after that Weld resigned.

Ranalli goes on, “The leads from the mysterious caller languished during McNamara’s bizarre, brief tenure as U.S. Attorney.”  That meant this information of great significance sat with McNamara for almost a year. O’Sullivan who also had it, gave it to the FBI despite the caller’s request he not do so. He refused to explain why he did this. The FBI interviewed Joe Murray but did nothing else about it.

Here’ the predicament I see. J.W, Carney, Whitey’s lawyer, is alleging that Whitey was given immunity by O’Sulllivan. One way he can show this is by showing the inaction by the U.S. Attorney’s office whenever it got information about Whitey. When Weld sent the information to McNamara wouldn’t he have discussed it with the chief of his criminal division, which I believe may have been Stearns, and with other people in the criminal division. McNamara had no background in the criminal law.

It seems that this is a legitimate matter that Carney should be permitted to explore, that is, why did McNamara do nothing about the material Weld sent to him? What was Stearns’s relationship to McNamara at that time? What did he know about this?  What was (FBI director then AUSA) Mueller’s involvement? Stearns and he have a very close relationship, did Mueller and Stearns ever discuss Whitey? Those are just a few of the questions. This is the heart of Whitey’s defense. Stearns by not recusing himself is preventing Carney from going in that direction.

These matters keep getting curiouser and curiouser.


FLASH – Stearns Refuses to Recuse

Media outlets are reporting Stearns issued an eleven page  order in which he said:  “I have nothing of relevant or material nature to offer with regard to this case or any claim of immunity.”

Woah!!!  Hold on a minute.  Isn’t that the issue?  Isn’t that why Carney filed to motion to put Stearns under oath to find that out?  Imagine if everyone could do what Stearns just did.  If you’re subpoenaed you could just write a short note back saying, “I’ve got nothing of relevance or material to the matter.”

It reminds me of the time when some federal judges were suing to get a pay raise for all the federal judges.  The case went before the Supreme Court.  The first issue to be decided was whether the judges could be impartial in making a decision whether they deserved a pay raise.  After much deliberation they concluded that they could.  They then had to decides whether they deserved the raise.  I don’t have to tell you how that came out.

Stearns is sending a message to Carney that the judges have come to the conclusion they’ve had enough of Whitey.   The sooner he pleads out the case the better off he will be.  Stearns knows that no appeals court will overturn anything he does so he summarily dismisses Carney’s attempt to find out what he did when he was a US Attorney in regard to Bulger.

Stearns is also telling Carney he’s not going to spend a year trying this case.  The longer it goes the worse it will be for Whitey.  Don’t be surprised if Stearns doesn’t sever the best case the government has and have that go first.   It’ll be a short trial.  It’ll have a predetermined outcome.  Whitey will be shipped out and hopefully will die before his appeal is heard.

I’m sure Carney is getting the message.  Whitey can’t be too happy.


Whitey’s Gambit – The Recusal Motion

J.W. Carney has filed a motion which asks Judge Stearns to remove himself as trial judge of Whitey Bulger.  He indicated, according to reports, he’s going to call him as a witness during the motion hearing to question Stearns about his involvement in any cases relating to Whitey while he was in the office.

Carney’s position is that because Stearns was an assistant  US Attorney (AUSA) in the Boston office when Bulger’s status as an FBI informant was known by others in in that office or in the alternative during a time Bulger was a target of that office he cannot be impartial.

During Stearns’s time other AUSAs such as Judge Mark Wolf, FBI Director Mueller, and former Strike Force Head O’Sullivan were there.  William Weld was US Attorney.

Judge Wolf heard the case against Stevie Flemmi.  He had been chief of the public corruption unit.  He didn’t recuse himself nor was he asked.

I initially thought when I heard of the motion “bad idea.”  Stearns is probably as good as any other judge on the bench to handle the case.   Whitey doesn’t want Tauro or Young, both good judges, but they really run a hard ship that constantly plows forward offering little time for respite.  Stearns will take his foot off the pedal on occasion.  As far as the other judges, I don’t think any could be as beneficial to a defendant as Stearns.

Stearns handled Kevin Weeks’s case.  Weeks will be a major witness against Whitey.  Stearns gave Weeks a nice gift of a sentence for his agreement to bear witness against Whitey.  Carney may argue that is some sort of imprimatur that affects Stearns’s impartiality?

I initially thought that this case is going to be a long trial.  Whitey doesn’t have anything else to do with his time but even then, he’d like a day off every once in a while.   It’s a mistake to change judges.

Then I realized Carney’s move is a bluff.  He knows as well as I do that he won’t prevail on the motion. So what is its purpose?

Carney wants to buy some time and get some more media time.  My present thinking is the last thing that Whitey wants is a trial.  What he wants is to strengthen the cards he has in his hands as he works on a deal.

Carney needs the time to go to Oklahoma and Florida and get those states to drop the death penalty case against Whitey and agree to go along with whatever sentence Whitey gets in Boston.

Martorano who actually pulled the trigger in Florida and Oklahoma had Frank DiMento as his lawyer.  DiMento is the best there is and it took him over a year to put the pieces together.  It’ll take Carney a somewhat longer time.

While he’s doing that he wants to keep the pressure on the local judges.  Threatening to call Stearns as a witness is one way to do that.  He’s trying to put the judges in the mindset that they’d like to see the case go away so that they can get down to more meaningful business.

Not that Whitey’s case isn’t meaningful in its own way.  But we all know (even Whitey) that he’s never getting back on the street.  What judge wants to waste his judicial time on an 82 year old guy who is in that position?  We know the ending.