Black Mass’s Huge Mistake – Stating Whitey Was Recruited To Give Information on Mafia

(`) Black MassAnyone who read Black Mass remembers the alleged meeting at Wollaston Beach where Whitey comes out of the mist and enters the car where FBI Agent John Connolly is waiting. Connolly, the skilled FBI man is supposedly going to recruit Whitey to be an informant telling him the Mafia has people inside law enforcement so it would be in Whitey’s best interest if he has someone like Connolly who can protect him. Connolly says he will do it as long as Whitey gives him information against the Mafia.

Now anyone with a smidgen of knowledge about the relationship between the Italian Mafia and the Irish, especially the Irish from South Boston, would understand that you don’t go to an Irishman to get information on the Mafia. So right off the bat you have to understand that Black Mass’s description of the meeting and the conversations between Whitey and Connolly is made up out of whole cloth.

Now to put it into context of the times before I go on you have to understand another thing. The FBI has had Steve Flemmi, who will become Whitey’s partner, as an informant since the middle of the 1960s. He is being handled by FBI Agent Paul Rico. Sometime 1969 Flemmi flees from Boston after he learns he is going to be indicted in Middlesex County for attempting to murder a Boston attorney whose car he has placed a bomb under. When it explodes the attorney loses a leg and is severely hurt.  Flemmi did this as a favor for the Mafia. After he flees Flemmi is also indicted in Suffolk County for murder.

While he is on the lam he probably remains in contact with Agent Rico. Rico leaves the Boston office in 1970. His partner, Dennis Condon, takes on the responsibility of handling Flemmi. In 1974 Condon tells Flemmi to come back to Boston because he has arranged to clear up the charges against him. Flemmi returns and the cases are dismissed after a few months.

Now why do you think Condon is working to help Flemmi come back into the area and go back into business. If you guessed that he was doing it because he wanted to continue the FBI/informant relationship with him you would not be far from the truth; if you think he was doing it just because,  ah, well, I cannot even think of a reason why he would do it other than he wanted him to come back to assist the FBI as he had done before he went away. I suggest it is fair to say Flemmi continued to provide the FBI with information as he had been doing all along prior to his flight.

Condon had plans to retire and leave the FBI. One of the things he had to do was to turn over his informants to other agents. He passed Flemmi on to Connolly.  So at the time of the alleged meeting in 1975 at Wollaston we know Connolly was handling Flemmi. We also know that Flemmi being Italian was connected with the Mafia since he helped with the bombing of the lawyer that was done for the Mafia.  There was no need to bring on Whitey.

In the book Black Mass the authors having written that Whitey was brought in to get information from the Mafia had to account for Flemmi being an informant at the same time. Here’s what they say: “Bulger blended in Flemmi, and a package deal was forged.” That is a basic fallacy since Flemmi was already in; if anyone was to blended in it had to be Whitey. A big mystery is how did that really happen. Whitey said it never did since he never was an informant.

How did the authors get it so wrong? It is because their premise is incorrect from the beginning.

18 thoughts on “Black Mass’s Huge Mistake – Stating Whitey Was Recruited To Give Information on Mafia

  1. Matt, Has anyone ever read Stephen Flemmi’s complete FBI informant file? How does it compare to James Bulgers?

    1. Michael:

      It is difficult comparing FBI informant files because the information in them is filed by FBI agents who may or may not be accurately reflecting what was said by the informant or the identity of the informant who gave them the information. From what I understand is that much of what Flemmi would have given Connolly was attributed also to Bulger so that he could keep his status as a high level informant. In other words, what Flemmi might have told Connolly he may have attributed it to Whitey so a comparison of the files would not be of much use if that were the case.
      I believe during the Wolf hearings that those files were made available and defense counsel had the opportunity to examine them. Whether they were complete and accurate depended upon the FBI which fought tooth and nail to keep them private.
      What would you expect a comparison would show?
      Another thing to keep in mind is that Flemmi testified that throughout the time from the mid-Sixties up until the end of 1990 he was an informant; the FBI files would show that he was closed out during much of this period. The reliability of the files is hightly questionable.

  2. Has anyone ever read Stephen Flemmi’s complete FBI informant file? How does it compare to James Bulgers?

  3. Matt:
    The Wollaston Beach scene, which opens the book, is told from Connolly’s point of view. Thus, after Bulger magically pops into his car, we are expected to believe that Connolly looks over at Bulger and sees this: “He was hard-bodied and fit, with penetrating blue eyes and that signature blond hair, swept back.” I mean, c’mon. Really. Please …. Gong.

  4. Let’s just hope that Black Mass is as entertaining as last night’s Republican Presidential debate.

  5. Hi Matt:
    At the dawn of time, I spent part of a night making out with a girl in a car at Wollaston Beach. Maybe the years have clouded my memory, but it didn’t seem like a great place for a meeting between a notorious criminal and an FBI agent. I can remember being made nervous by a passing patrol car (from the Quincy PD, I assume.) I never went back. Unlike me, Bulger and Connolly seem to have been characters in a bad romance novel: They meet at the beach at midnight under a “harvest moon”? Please! Really! Were they lovers?? This is fiction.

    1. Dan:

      Connolly had a vivid imagination. I too used Wollaston to good advantage but liked going over to Southie near Castle Island as a better parking spot. I don’t think Whitey was living in Quincy in 1975 when the Harvest Moon came out but back in Southie; it seems odd Connolly would have set the meeting up in Quincy when both were in Southie. And as you note, the Quincy police as well as the Mets were forever harrassing the people parking there so that would have been the last place you would have chosen.

  6. Matt, Your above words about starting the blog trying to cut through the falseness that people came to regard as the truth. You have put out so much good, solid information about so many events that happened decades ago you might not remember something. The movie Black Mass is commercial entertainment with many people viewing it who know nothing about Whitey except what they have read in national newspapers. I am sure you remember the great book, The Friends of Eddie Coyle. The movie brought the book to life on screen and I think the same will happen in Black Mass. A lot of years and hard work went into it, hopefully people will find it interesting to watch. A fact finding mission? No just two hours of solid moviemaking.

    1. Norwood:

      Good comment. Eddie Coyle was a novel by George Higgins who I knew. You are right it is a movie; but the book behind it is supposed to be factual when it isn’t. I suggest for us to move on into the future it is best we understand the past in a correct manner.. I do not intend to criticize the movie because it is as you suggest commercial entertainment

  7. What is the point of Connolly trying to bring Whitey into the fold if he had no information on the Mafia? Was Flemmi saying you either take both me and Whitey or you get neither of us?

    1. Dave:

      I sort of set that out in answer to two other comments. Flemmi was already in deep. He had been a source since the mid-Sixties. He had just had two major felony charges taken care of by the FBI. He knew if he was going to get rich and have women he needed the FBI since he was only going to be able to do that by being both a snitch and a criminal.

      Agent Condon gave Flemmi to Connolly when he was going to retire to become head of the state police. In the meantime when Flemmi went back to the mob – the Winter Hill boys – he met Whitey for the first time. Both started to bind together – the others liked their booze, drugs and late nights – Flemmi and Whitey stayed away from the booze and drugs and out together. They stayed in shape. They started to partner up.

      Of the two, Flemmi was the real killer. Jimmy Katz who testified at Whitey’s trial would tell you he feared Flemmi a lot more than Whitey. Most did because he was a heartless thug. Flemmi’s problem was he needed the protection of the FBI (even after he was busted in Boston he was asking for FBI agents to come to him) and he worried that Whitey might find out he was a rat. He went to his handler John Connolly and told him of his worries. They came up with a plan to handle the situation.

    1. Jon:

      Yes, true. It is nice to hear from you. I’m sort of stuck with it because of the name of the blog. It brings me back to the time of the blog’s creation which was to try to cut through all the falseness that came about and is now treated as truth.

  8. Matt,
    There is documentation by Condon of his attempts to bring Whitey into the fold (I believe in 72) during the Mullens/Killeen war. Whitey danced around him for a few months, (no doubt doing an in-depth cost/benefit analysis) and finally rebuffed him for good.

    1. Rather:

      I’ve written about that before. Condon apparently had a conversation with Whitey and informed headquarters that he had him as an informant. He opened up a preliminary file. The problem with all of these so called informant files is that the person listed as an informant does not know that is being done. So after this conversation the FBI has an informant file on Whitey. The extent of Whitey’s information is a general conversation he and Condon had which had nothing of significance in it; something that an FBI guy would say to a guy he was trying to flip like, “I know you are friends with Billy O’Sullivan and that the Mullins are in a war with you.”

      Condon having opened a file on him started to receive pressure from headquarters for more information. Since Whitey knew nothing of his status when Condon went back to him Whitey told him to get lost. Condon then gracefully eased himself out of the jam he had gotten himself in with headquarters by writing Whitey was not giving him any good information.

      It happened in 1971 I believe. The FBI informant system is such a mess that people who are not informants are labeled as such. I doubt Whitey danced around him; I think the whole thing was a Condon creation and Whitey had little to do with him.

      1. Matt,
        I know you wrote about this before,…Sorry for not citing.
        So then the difference between Condon and Connolly is that Connolly had more ambition (and saw the value of the perception of having Whitey as an informant) and was willing to bend the rules and open an informant file on Whitey (that Whitey never knew existed) or Condon, when retiring and handing over his informant files to Connolly, said “take another run at him,…you know his brother and you’re from Southie?”

        1. Rather:

          You heard of the “no spin zone.” This is the “no apology zone.” No one is supposed to say they are sorry since as we trek along we recognize we, and me most of all, are frail human beings just doing our best as we see it.

          You bring up a good point, one that is one of the big mysteries in this matter. What exactly was the true relationship between Whitey and Connolly? You have to first understand the FBI mindset that both Condon and Connolly would have had when it comes to informants: it is not whether they are giving good information or true information or any information that is important it is just that you have them on the books. They are like Gogol’s Chichikov who went about gathering in dead souls. For the FBI informants were like having a note from your parent that let you get out of school early, once you were free you could do anything you wanted which is what most FBI agents wanted which was an escape from the stifling atmosphere where they worked and were treated like children.

          Condon was coming to the end of his career. He had to pass on Flemmi since he had just gotten him out of two major criminal charges. No one seems to recognize that Flemmi owed the FBI big for that. Condon handed him off to Connolly. Your scenario leaves out much of that.

          You cannot take Flemmi out of the picture. He would pay the FBI back in spades with all the information he would provide over the years. You’d think the FBI had some real big hammer to keep him in place. It didn’t. Flemmi was a true believer. After it made the charges against him disappear there was no way he would let anything interfere with that relationship.

          Flemmi comes back in early 1974 and by the end of 1974 he’s off the hook on the criminal charges. As I’ve noted before it is when Flemmi comes back that he and Whitey start becoming a team pretty much because they have the same habits and likes; they are different than the others and quickly bind together. Flemmi has a problem, however, he is as dependent on the FBI as a babe is on his mother.

          Connolly does not have to be told anything by Condon. Being from Southie and growing up in Old Harbor Village and then being a life guard over at L street he would know all the players. Billy was the head lifeguard and Connolly and others worked under him. The Southie wise guys hung out there. Although Whitey was in the can at the time they would have heard about him. Connolly would of course know Billy because he was a popular politician and he would use his badge to befriend him.

          The stage is set. Connolly works Flemmi; Flemmi and Whitey are becoming close; Flemmi can’t just say, “hey Whitey, guess what, I’ve been informing against everyone in Boston since the mid-Sixties..”

          Flemmi has to figure out how he can continue to suck off the FBI’s protection teat (he’s amazed that he got out of a murder and car bombing because he is an FBI rat) Flemmi would discuss this with Connolly. They would have to figure out how to bring Connolly into the relationship. We know the cock and bull story Connolly passed off which is contained in Black Mass. What is not known is how they pulled it off.

          We do know that they did. Give it a thought. See if you can figure out how it was done.

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