§29: Re-Examining Whitey Bulger: The Learning Years: A False View On Connolly’s Return To Boston

The Steps in South Boston that Lead To Whitey’s Secret Hideout

Even though I believe it was Speaker McCormack who brought Connolly back to Boston so he could be near his family, I understand there is another position on this. I’m aware others have suggested that Connolly’s arrest of Frankie Salemme was part of a scheme put together by the Rico/Condon team to bring Connolly back to Boston to be the handler of Whitey and Stevie Flemmi.

In 1973 Rico is within 2 years of retiring and Condon within 4. They feel an obligation to Steve Flemmi for the help he has been giving them since at least 1965. They don’t want to hang him out to dry not only because of what he’s done in the past but they know of his future value as an informant for the FBI. They need to find an agent to handle him to replace themselves.

Frankie Salemme and Stevie Flemmi were fugitives from murder charges. After being indicted in September 1969, both men fled to the West Coast along with Peter Poulos. Frankie thinking it better they separate quickly flew back to New York City. Stevie went to Las Vegas with Poulos where he murdered him in October 1969. He then flew to New York City to join Salemme.

Stevie, using the pseudonym “Jack of South Boston” stayed in touch with FBI agent Rico and through him with Agent Condon while he was on his flight from justice. Salemme and Stevie were living in the Big Apple when Connolly arrived there. Sometime after that point in time Frankie said that out-of-the-blue Stevie told him he was leaving the city. Stevie gave no reason for this sudden decision. He then up and left.

Frankie said, “it wasn’t shortly after that I was bumped into by John Connolly on 83rd Street and 3rd Avenue” in New York’s Upper East Side. Connolly pulled a gun on him and placed him under arrest. It was around Thanksgiving, 1972. Little doubt exists that Connolly knew the whereabouts of Salemme from information Stevie was giving to Rico/Condon. Frankie testified Connolly, “could identify me. Like I said, I knew him since he was a kid in L Street, along with Billy Bulger and a few more of them, but that was his purpose for being there.” 

FBI Agent Condon testified he sent pictures of Salemme to Connolly and Connolly carried them in his wallet but take that with a grain of salt. I’m tempted to say you can take most FBI evidence like that. Those agents, like most cops, play with the truth to as they deem  necessary. All you had to do was sit through John Connolly’s trial, as I wrote about in my book Don’t Embarrass The Family and hear a FBI veteran of 29 years testify he did not know what Connolly meant when he used the term M.O. in reference to the gangsters to have grave doubts about their commitment to telling the full truth.

From his L Street days Connolly surely would have known Salemme, have had a fixed picture of him in his mind. and would need no photograph of him. Obviously Salemme would know Billy because he was the chief lifeguard and had become a state representative. Had he been neither of these, they’d still have known each other because like in Cheers, L Street was a place where everybody knows your name.

To determine whether there was this Rico/Condon plan to bring Connolly back you must consider the landscape at the time. It seems probable Condon may have met Connolly in 1968 before he joined the FBI. Some have written that Connolly’s friend from South Boston, a Boston detective Eddie Walsh, introduced them after Connolly got accepted into the FBI. No one has suggested any other relationship among Rico, Condon or Connolly. It also seems likely that Condon knew Connolly was in New York City and was in touch with him.

I’d go as far to say that Rico and Condon wanted to have him arrest Salemme. He knew what he looked like and Connolly’s knowing Salemme from the past  provided perfect cover for his “accidentally” coming upon him on Third Avenue.

We can we speculate and say they brought Connolly from San Francisco to New York to carry out that arrest. I have trouble believing they could plan such a move. They knew nothing about Connolly. Whether they did or not the end result would be the same. Connolly’s appearance in New York was fortuitous for them to execute their plan.

But we have to keep in mind, Condon doesn’t really know much about Connolly other than he’s from South Boston and he met him once. Rico never met him. Rico/Condon knowing the need to get Flemmi back to Boston and turn him over to another agent formulated a plan that roughly went along the lines: get Flemmi out of New York, bring about Salemme’s arrest, bring Salemme to trial and arrange it that the charges against Stevie Flemmi be dismissed. That’s a pretty large amount of work they had ahead of them. They would have only limited control over its timing. It could have taken years to bring Salemme to trial and a similar unknown amount of time to bring the DAs on board so that they would let Flemmi out on bail and dismiss his pending cases.

In 1973 they still have plenty of time to screen other agents looking to come up with the right type of agent to handle Stevie. It wouldn’t be up to them anyway. Stevie Flemmi would make that decision after he was briefed on and met his new handler. I can’t see them also planning that John Connolly a practical stranger to them and an unknown quantity would be the guy to handle Flemmi.



13 thoughts on “§29: Re-Examining Whitey Bulger: The Learning Years: A False View On Connolly’s Return To Boston

  1. Matt. Shelley and Cullen never tell “the whole truth.” They are propagandists! I don’t believe Shelley. I’ve found many errors in her Globe columns, sins of commission and sins of omission. She’s falsely written and implied that John was convicted of leaking information in Boston. She has falsely conflated the civil trials and criminal trials. She has never explored in depth the travesty and sham that was the Miami trial. She has never explored the issues of “double jeopardy”, “statute of limitations” “ineffective assistance of counsel”. She dismissed all these constitutional issues as “technicalities.” She never emphasized that Flemmi told one version of events from 1995 to 2002, then when faced with execution, told another version, implicating Connolly in wrongdoing for the first time in 2002. She never questioned Flemmi’s razor-sharp memory of what John Connolly was supposed to have said in 1982. Flemmi remembered the exact words! How many exact words of conversations do you remember from 1982? She’s a toady for Wyshak, from whom she gets inside information. She tows the Globe’s line. She tows the line of her corrupt colleagues, Lehr and O’Neil. She’s been a propagandist for the Globe’s false version of events.
    Here’s who I do agree with: I agree with the Boston jury: the Boston jury, 12 persons honest and true, who heard all the testimony Shelley heard, and who found that John leaked no information that led to anyone’s death. Not quilty! Acuitted! Where’s the sense of justice? JOhn had his criminal trial and was acquitted of those charges in Boston. Let it be! The jury decided. I also agree with the 200 people who wrote letters on John Connolly’s behalf. I agree with Judge Harrington who wrote and then testified on John Connolly’s behalf. I agree with the 100 FBI agents who personally knew John and who attested to John’s good character. I agree with the many friends of mine who knew John Connolly personally. I agree with the hundreds who worked closely with John and knew him over the lifetime. They all know John Connolly was framed. I also believe John Connolly himself when I heard him speak in the Miami courtroom, and addressed Mrs. Callahan directly. “Mrs. Callahan, I never knowingly did anything that caused or led to your husband’s death.” The greatest detractors of John Connolly are Globe personnel and people who did not know him personally. Those who knew him and his family over the lifetime are his staunchest defenders; those who worked closely with him are his staunchest defenders. Shelley Murphy is a shill for the Globe, Wyshak, Lehr and O’Neil. I hope you get a chance to read the last few pages of Black Mass (2012), and see for yourself how they distort facts and withold exculpatory information from the readers!
    P.S. The only time I recall Shelley was completely accurate and truthful was at the end of John’s trial in 2001, when she first reported and accurately stated that John Connolly was acquitted of “all the serious charges.” That was the headline over her column “(Connolly) Acquitted of Serious Charges”). Since then, she’s been interspersing spin and falsehoods in her columns.
    Please don’t believe Globe columnists! They are masters of deceit! Remember how they and Howie Carr have defamed innumerable good people! Remember how they tried to shut down the St. Pat’s Day Parade. When the Veterans won a unanimous decision in June of 1995 at the US Supreme Court to exclude radical gay groups from their parade, the Globe called for a “boycott” of the 1996 parade. In 1996, over one million people turned out to defy the Globe and welcome back the Veterans parade.
    Do not forget the Globe’s longstanding animus and antipathy toward the Bulger family and the people of South Boston in general. Those South Boston people protesting outside the Globe on numerous occassions were not figments of the imagination: they were real people with legitimate gripes against highly biased reporting.
    I read the Globe because I want to stay informed about the enemy’s propaganda. By and large, I find Shelley Murphy, Kevin Cullen, Dick Lehr and Gerard O’Neil to be untrustworthy and deceitful. Rarely do you get “the whole truth” from any of them!

    1. Bill:
      As to your part about Shelley I have to agree. AFter all, she’s the one who received the grand jury minutes on Billy Bulger just before his Congressional testimony from someone in the Boston prosecutors office. I wonder who it was. It was never investigated. You are right that she never mentioned all the things that you have brought up. She accepts Flemmi’s word as if he were an upstanding citizen rather than being one of the worst people who ever walked the streets of Boston.
      The Globe has its point of view. I’m not going to go the the end of the 2012 edition of Black Mass. I’m working my way through the original one and pointing out where the authors made things up as they went along. My big beef with Dick Lehr who I think is a good writer is when he made a comment to Boeri saying something to the effect that Billy and Whitey were setting up Father Drinan to be part of their future empire.
      It is important for everyone to make Whitey the greatest criminal who ever existed in the history of the world, even worse than Professor Moriarity in the Sherlock Holmes stories. So like Professor Moriarity they created a fictitious Whitey and then made up things about Billy Bulger, which I have to get to when I have the chance, to make them both into some Evil Empire that crushed justice in Eastern Massachusetts. As you know I worked as a prosecutor during all this time, I went after Whitey’s organization so often that he was telling John Connolly how much he hated my office. It’s because the story became so twisted and one sided that I started the blog in a hope to bring some light to what really happened.
      If I tried to write a book about what was happening inside the Globe, no one would give it much credence. If the Globe writers decide to write about what was happening in the world of criminal investigations they get much credence. Unfortunately, that is the way life is. The one with the bully pulpit gets the audience.

  2. Black Mass is work of fiction. It paints John Connolly in the blackest light possible. Read the 2012 edition of Black Mass, and you’ll find that in the last few pages it says this (paraphrasing): the federal prosecutors charged John Connolly with being a gangster, part of the mob, throughout his FBI career: “The jury agreed.” We all know the jury did not agree. The jury convicted John of one crime during his 23 years as an FBI agent—-transmitting a case of wine with $1000 from Bulger to Morris. The Boston jury acquitted John of every other allegation as an FBI agent—he was acquitted of taking any bribe, acquitted of leaking any information, etc. So, when Black Mass writes, “The jury agreed”, Black Mass is lying. Worse, on the next page, Black Masss writes that Connolly was convicted in Miami of second degree murder for leaking information that led to Callahan’s death, but fails to tell the readers that John Connolly was acquitted of that same act in Boston. It fails to tell the readers that Connolly was convicted of an act “murder by gun” which he could not possible commit as was on Martha’s Vineyard when Callahan was killed; it failed to tell the readers that the Miami judge admitted that and also admitted the statute of limitations had run. Readers are entitled to know these facts from reporters. Black Mass deliberately concealed those facts from its readers. Reporters with integrity with tell all relevant facts, but that’s not what Black Mass did. Black Mass slanted everything and failed to disclose relevant facts. Norwood Born is right about Black Mass’s authors and Howie Carr: they are outright liars and dissemblers.

    1. Bill:
      Black Mass is going to be a movie. Its version will that the people will believe. You should read the article Henry Barth referred to: Shelley Murphy disagrees with you. http://www.boston.com/news/local/massachusetts/articles/2003/10/15/flemmi_ties_connolly_to_2_slayings/ She writes: The jury got it wrong when it acquitted former FBI agent John J. Connolly Jr. of leaking information that prompted his longtime informants, James “Whitey” Bulger and Stephen “The Rifleman” Flemmi, to kill two men, according to court documents unsealed yesterday. Don’t you believe Shelly knows what’s up – she and Kevin Cullen have a book coming out that will incorporate all of Black Mass along with Flemmi’s evidence to give us “the truth.”

  3. Mr. Barth,
    I knew Eddie Walsh and can confirm he was friendly with John Connolly, if not quietly. I have no idea if Eddie is still alive. In the late 1970’s Eddie seemed very old to me because he had a raspy voice and ruddy complexion. He had at least one son, Brian Walsh who lived in Dorchester back then and would now be about age 47. The BPD Officer named Tom Connolly you mention may also be known as Bobo Connolly, the owner of the Bayside Club. I never saw Bobo with Eddie Walsh or John Connolly. I’m pretty sure John Connolly was not related to Bobo by blood. Coincidentally (or maybe not), Bobo was a classic victim of federal law enforcement in the early 1980s. The FBI followed him and a few other Boston cops around for a long time trying to find evidence they were on the take. They weren’t. They did, however, accept some free meals from a Boston restauranteer and so were indicted, tried, convicted, and given disproportionately long jail sentences. Years later, Bobo attended some proceedings related to Winter Hill cases at the federal court and often spoke out against the FBI to the media ooutside. Bobo’s ire was essentially that the same FBI agents who jammed him up over a free lunch were simutaneously taking gifts from wiseguys. So if there was ever any relationship between John Connolly and Bobo Connolly, it’s over. SPECULATING: That said, I’d venture a guess that John Connolly had nothing to do with investigating Bobo’s Lunchscam case. It would have been more of a public curruption case and not consistent with the Organized Crime group in which Connolly operated. Also, from what I knew of John Connolly as an investigator, he wouldn’t have taken a swing at Boston cops from Southie unless their transgressions were grievous and unforgiveable, certainly not a free lunch. I’d guess he’d be more likely to quietly tell them to stop being stupid.

    1. Southieboy:
      I agree with just about all you posted and thank you for the information. Bobo and John Connolly to the best of my knowledge were not related nor were they related to Eddie Walsh from what people have told me. There’s lots of Connollys in the Boston area and most are not related. Speaking of that, I had a first cousin from Southie, on of my uncle Eddie’s kid, who I hung around with for a bit before I knew he was a first cousin.
      There were seven or so Boston cops indicted for taking money from restaurant owners as a result of an FBI operation that was headed by John Morris who was the corrupt agent who testified against Connolly and admitted to taking $7000 from Whitey and Stevie and $5000 from Berkowitz but he took a lot more. The Boston cops were upset that he had jammed them in for much less money. The cops always protested their innocence but the evidence against them was pretty good and some said they had reputations as having their hands out looking for money. Morris was the ultimate hypocrite yet he’s behind much of the information in the book Black Mass which is being made into a movie with Johnny Depp.
      Connolly was not part of the public corruption unit that Morris was the supervisor of. It’s hard to speculate on what Connolly would have done if he had been on Morris’s unit. His main concern was protecting Whitey and Stevie – whether it would have extended to any cops from Southie is anyone’s guess. It’d be interesting to know if he knew of that investigation.

  4. dear author, your post yesterday was a plus outstanding. the age gap between whitey and john c makes a lot of what was written in black mass and the brothers bulger about the quote unquote beginning of the whitey john c relationship look like something from a highschool newspaper. i can not believe well known writers wrote it and i believed it. little kids do not hang out with young men. the whole john c was bought an ice cream cone by whitey now seems like a fairy tale. i guess howie has made a lifetime out of making things up about whitey and billy and most people and that would be me to bought it hook line and sinker. no one ever raised a red flag about all this timeline and how it could never have happened.thanks again for your day in day out work on the this blog. i would love to see you go on say bill oreilly. i am a life long democrat but bill does draw ratings and i think your work and point of view would interest people nationally. i much prefer this blogs joe friday just the facts approach then the laughable howie carr book murderman. thank god stevie will not write a book. regards

    1. Norwood:
      Corrected the word as you indicated.
      I just want to say you should not feel alone in being snookered. I went along with all the prior books believing they were properly sourced and not made up. You’ll see from some of my early posts I praised Black Mass and Ranalli’s book and even thought Judge Wolf did a good job in his decision. I’ve come to a totally different conclusion as I have written this blog. I’ve taken things slowly and tried to look at contemporary news sources and done some other research but mostly I’ve looked at these things to see if they make sense based on my experience and thought about how things actually happen in life. I lived in the same project at the same time as Connolly and the Bulgers but didn’t know kids a block away from my home who were my same age. No one wanted to hang out with “the younger kids.” Yet in Black Mass they write Connolly became good friends with Billy. Sadly its like that throughout the book. Ralph Ranalli tells the story the Whitey bought Connolly an ice cream because his parents were from Ireland as if that was something unusual. At least three quarters of the kids in the projects had parents from Ireland. Black Mass has Whitey hanging with the Shamrocks as a kid, the gang he probably hung out with was the Mercers. They never heard of that gang. Unfortunately, these fictions are accepted as the truth.

  5. I haven’t seen mention of Detective Eddie Walsh from the BPD in a long time. Is he still with us? He must be in his 80s if he is alive because I seem to recall that he was an army MP during the Korean Conflict. Walsh’s longtime partner on the BPD was named Tom Connolly, also from Southie.

    Could there be a relationship to John of the FBI?

    1. Henry:
      Ralph Ranalli talked about Eddie Walsh in his book. Ranalli uses informatino he got from Attorney Kevin Curryn, not one of the best people to pass the bar, and talks about Larry Goldman (who I prosecuted and got him 19 1/2 years on a 20 year rap fro conspiracy to murder. Ranalli said Walsh and Connolly were always together but his sources for that are among the most untrustworthy. There was a rumor out there that they were first cousins but I talked to people who should know and they said they were not related. Don’t know if he’s still with us or spending time with Billy Stewart.

      1. Henry:
        That’s where the rumor started in newspaper articles that you cited. What does “distant cousin” mean? You got to understand that a lot of Irish in the Boston area came from Galway. Three groups were the Connollys, the Walshes, and the McDonoughs. The McDonoughs lived Kitty corner across the street from my house. Wimpy used to tell me we were related. I’d ask my parents and they’d say they didn’t think so but there were McDonoughs back in our family tree so that possibility remained. The same things with Walsh. By the way that article you referred to is great where Shelly Murphy starts off by saying the jury got it wrong when it acquitted Connolly. She like all the others think that Flemmi is telling the truth. Maybe she got it wrong thinking that when Flemmi implicated Connolly in the Castucci and other murders he was lying and the jury that heard the other gangsters testify were right.
        Remember, the only way Flemmi can make a deal is to put Whitey in as many murders as possible. The feds had already made up their mind that Connolly leaked Castucci’s name to Whitey but as I’ll spell out when I write about his murder that wasn’t why he was killed. Flemmi just told the feds what they wanted to believe and he had plenty of time to learn what they wanted to hear.

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