Frank Salemme testified against John Connolly in his criminal trial back in 2002. In preparation for that trial the prosecution team gave him the book “Black Mass” to read. Salemme’s testimony was of vital importance to the prosecution since it allowed the prosecution to show evidence that the RICO indictment of John Connolly was brought within the statute of limitations. Had there not been evidence from Salemme and Weeks that in late December 1994 that Connolly tipped them off to impending indictments, then Connolly could not have been charged with offenses going back to the early 1980s.
As it turned out the Boston jury acquitted Connolly of all the charges where the evidence came from the gangsters where there was no other corroboration. Salemme and Weeks both saying Connolly tipped them off about the upcoming indictments gave the jury something to hold on to. Although upon closer examination it would seem Connolly had nothing to do with any tip off.
Flemmi said he had his own source who was State cop Richard Schneiderhan. Flemmi told Salemme on January 5 his source told him the indictment was coming down on the 10th. It’s said Schneiderhan had a relative working in the US attorney’s office who would have known about the indictment date but not about the date for the complaint warrants.
Had Connolly been the source he would have known from his FBI contacts if he had them as the prosecutors alleged that the warrants had issued on the 5th. Had Connolly been the source Whitey would not have been coming back to Boston from New Orleans on the 5th. Had Connolly been the source Flemmi would have not been arrested on the 5th.
In 2004 the FBI was informed that a person (CS) who had been incarcerated with Flemmi prior to the Connolly trial was willing to cooperate with it. Special agents were assigned to meet with CS and interview him. He told a fascinating story about what Flemmi told him including that he received the above mentioned book.
Here are some of the things the CS to the FBI that Salemme told him:
“Salemme told the CS that during his briefings with federal prosecutors, he related to them specific incidents. Then the prosecutors, on occasion, replied “are you sure it didn’t happen like this” and then related to SALEMME the details of events they believed they occurred. SALEMME told CS that he then changed his story to match the prosecutors’ version.”
“Regarding Black Mass, SALEMME told the CS that it made him sick and reinforced his desire to get even with Connolly.”
“SALEMME also told the CS that the prosecutors gave him Black Mass to refresh his memory and let him know things that he was not aware of and to make him want to get even the the “scum” CONNOLLY.”
“SALEMME that Black Mass helped him with his recollection and testimony.”
“SALEMME referred to CONNOLLY as his ticket home. SALEMME said he had to testify in the Grand Jury against CONNOLLY before the statute of limitations expired”
“SALEMME told the CS that the federal prosecutors loved him. SALEMME told the CS that he “spun” the prosecutors . . . . “
“SALEMME also told the CS that the prosecutors were panicked because they wanted to make the FBI look bad.”
“SALEMME said he had never seen people so “obsessed” with getting someone.”
“SALEMME said the prosecuutors wanted CONNOLLY more than GOTTI and they considered CONNOLLY “public enemy number 1.”
“The prosecutors told SALEMME they wold charge him with committing multiple murders if he didn’t cooperate against CONNOLLY and that STEVE “RIFLEMAN” FLEMMI would testify against SALEMME about the murders.”
“SALEMME told CS . . . . he’d die in prison if he didn’t “say what the prosecutors wanted to hear.”
“The CS recalled asking SALEMME how he could “make up shit” on CONNOLLY because CONNOLLY had a family. SALEMME told CS “fuck CONNOLLY, that guy and the FBI are the enemy. . . . he (SALEMME) and his family had suffered for years and not its CONNOLLLY.“
“SALEMME told the CS that he (SALEMME) had the last laugh by getting back at CONNOLLY . . . SALEMME said he would go home and spend the money they let him keep.”
CS was an inmate with Salemme. When Connolly learned what Salemme had told his fellow inmate he appealed his conviction seeking a new trial or a hearing on this new evidence. The trial judge refused to help him out. So did the Court of Appeals which went out of its way to minimize the Salemme’s statements calling them a recantation which is really a different ball of wax. Salemme didn’t recant; he just never expected the CS would tell of their conversations.
I’ve got this gut feeling that had Connolly been a Mafia boss and a Salemme testified against him and later said those same things then he would have gotten a new trial right away. Here Connolly had no shot despite the statements of the CS as to what he remembered Salemme telling him. The first line of the decision reads: “The federal courts are by now painfully familiar with the Winter Hill Gang and its corrupt relationship with the Boston office of the FBI.”
It might as well have said that Connolly will get no help here no matter how corrupt the testimony of Salemme. But what is really interesting is the Court saying the relationship between Winter Hill and the FBI was corrupt. That relationship was based on the FBI’s Top Echelon Program. If that is corrupt in Boston, why isn’t it corrupt in other parts of the country and seeing that the program is still ongoing in Boston when did it become not corrupt.
Thinking of all this I wonder at the dilemma now facing that court with Whitey’s appeal. Maybe I’ve been wrong all along saying he had no chance. He is after all a life-long criminal who has dedicated his life to crime rather than law enforcement. Will the Appeals Court will want to give him a break like it does with the Mafia people? If only he didn’t belong to the Winter Hill Gang Whitey might be well placed to have the court give him a new trial.