Can You Tell When A Gangster Is Lying Without Solid Corroboration Evidence? Here’s One

I suppose  we should start off with the basic truth about gangsters which is “they lie almost all the time.”   Even though we can say that  and be correct there is a way to know if one is lying. But before I get to that I am always intrigued by the interactions between a prosecutor and a gangster who he or she will use to testify.

How does the prosecutor tell if the gangster is lying? After all, as a representative of a sovereign power that is the first duty. Sometimes there is corroborating evidence; other times especially with crimes committed years earlier there is none. Prosecutors have to rely solely on the word of a criminal who lies. How do the prosecutor decide what  part of the gangsters lie to believe? Then how does a judge or jury decide? Is it merely a guessing game. Should people go to jail on a guess?

My favorite example of this is when Judge Mark Wolf made his findings in the original case where Whitey Bulger and Steve Flemmi were disclosed as FBI informants. Flemmi was asserting that he had been given immunity for his crimes by the FBI. He testified before Wolf. He testified that a State Police electronic interception on the Lancaster Street garage where he and Bulger did business was compromised by AUSA O’Sulllivan; he testifies he had an informant on the State Police named Naimovich.

Judge Wolf who worked and was friends with O’Sullivan disbelieved him about O’Sullivan; Judge Wolf thinking Naimovich was convicted believed Flemmi as to Naimovich.  He was wrong on both counts. It was O’Sullivan who leaked the State Police electronic interception and it was Dick Schneiderhan, not Naimovich who was Flemmi’s informant. Further, rather than being convicted, Naimovich had been acquitted.

Flemmi bold as brass had no problem lying in front of Wolf when he saw fit.  Wolf with his many years sitting as a judge could not tell when he was lying. How are jurors expected to tell? Wouldn’t it be  much better for our system of  justice that gangsters not be allowed to testify without there being independent solid corroborative evidence?

There is though one way to tell if a gangster is lying without much more. It is to examine the public knowledge of the events as they happened and listen to what the gangster’s story is  relative to what happened. If the gangster was involved in the happening but wants to remove himself from it he will tell of the event by giving facts that are totally wrong. The gangster expects the person he is talking too will think: “he could not have been there he has the facts all wrong.”

Take Pat Nee for example. He’s the guy who was never prosecuted by the federal prosecutors even though he was in an around most of the murders attributed to Whitey Bulger committed in South Boston. He told how Billy O’Sullivan got murdered by putting it on Paulie McGonagle who was dead at the time he told the story. He told how Paulie waited in the dark by himself until Billy came home, confronted him and shot him. The many eye witnesses to the event had three or four guys chasing Billy up the street and shooting him when he tripped over a sewer cover. Why was Nee’s story so fabricated? Was it to remove any suspicion from him?

He also tells the story of the murder of Donald Killeen who was shot down outside his house at 9:00 in the evening. He has a couple of guys, then dead, shooting him in the morning. Again, facts that are easily obtainable he distorts hoping by that to get the finger of guilt pointed away from him.

We must keep in mind gangsters survive by lying. No one has the ability without solid corroboration to know when they are lying or not. Their stories will always point themselves in the best light by pretending they do not know basic facts of the crime or putting the gun in someone else’s hands. The courts should have a much higher standard before allowing gangsters to testify.

7 thoughts on “Can You Tell When A Gangster Is Lying Without Solid Corroboration Evidence? Here’s One

  1. hi Matt and thanks for your recent article
    1. how did whitey, Stevie and Salemme see Raymond L.S Patriarca
    2. In your opinion could the murder of Bucky Barrett have been sanctioned by Angiulo?
    3. when will your book on the Boston Gang Wars be released?

    4. what do you make of Flemmi’s claim in the book Rifleman that manocchio was an informant?

    1. David:

      1. I don’t think either Whitey or Stevie ever met Raymond although I could be wrong about the latter since he was part of the bombing of Fitzgerald’s automobile. As far as their relationship with him I suggest they must have worked that through Gerry to whom they most likely paid tribute. As for Frank Salemme he thought Raymond L.S. as he called Patriarca walked on water. There is nothing he would not have done for him.

      2. It is hard to tell if Jerry sanctioned Barrett’s murder. Talk was that the money taken by Barrett and the others from the safe deposit boxes belonged to Mafia folk. Jerry could have asked them to squeeze him to get them back some of their money. There is no indication that was the case. I don’t think Whitey and Stevie would need Jerry’s blessing – I believe there was some bad blood between them and Bucky.

      3. My book is coming along slowly. It is being proof read. The sooner the better so that I can get on to come other stuff. The afterwards once the writing is done is always slow and complicated.

      4. My assumption with all these gangsters is if they do not know something first hand they are repeating rumors that are usually unreliable. Flemmi would have no idea if Manocchio was an informant or not. I give it little credence.

  2. Matt
    As usual you are pretty skimpy on solutions.
    I still feel a civilian review board with subpoena
    powers is my solution for holding the criminal justice system
    The board would set and enforce standards including hiring
    and firing personnel.

    In other news…

    Embedded in the Pay of the CIA A Confession from The Profession
    Udo Ulfkotte
    San Diego, California:, 2019, p/b, £19.631

    The State of Secrecy Spies and the Media in Britain
    Richard Norton-Taylor
    London and New York: I. B. Tauris, 2020, £20 h/bb

  3. Well, we know why John Connolly was prosecuted (he wouldn’t talk) and why he was convicted (gangster testimony). A sad tale indeed. Matt, is Connolly back with his family? How is his health?

    1. Dan:

      I am not in touch with John Connolly. People who I know have been, I assume, but I have not heard one way or the other. He is out of prison. I think Howie Carr sad he was spending time at someone’s (Franny Joyce’s ?) house in Florida. I do not know his health.

  4. Gangsters are just like politicians. However, when queried, the former should learn to say: “To the best of my knowledge, I do not recollect.”

Comments are closed.