I pointed out a couple of days ago that sometime before September 1988 Gerald O’Neill of the Boston Globe and FBI agent “Leaky John” Morris had struck up a friendship. (There also seems to have been a relationship between Dick Lehr of the Globe and former FBI agent Robert Fitzpatrick) It was through this relationship that the Boston Globe was able to write its four part series on the Bulger Mystique in September of that year. Leaky John Morris and Fitzpatrick told the Globe that Whitey was an FBI informant. Leaky John did this because he had been taking money from Whitey and he knew if Whitey were caught he’d be in trouble. Leaky John hoped that by having the Globe publicly reveal Whitey’s status the Mafia or some others would murder Whitey.
Leaky John was not content with having Whitey killed, he also wanted to destroy Billy Bulger. He was involved in an investigation of Billy Bulger at that time. We know that because O’Neill wrote in 2003 that the FBI closed out its investigation of Bulger’s involvement in the 75 State Street matter on November 30, 1988. When O’Neill and Lehr wrote their Spotlight article on December 8, 1988 a large amount of information they included in it had to have come from the FBI investigation that had just been closed by Leaky John.
The December Spotlight story also relied on information that came from a civil suit that had been filed in Suffolk Superior court by Thomas Finnerty, a lawyer, for a legal fee he claimed was owed to him by Harold Brown, the Boston developer of 75 State Street. It seems had Finnerty done anything wrong in connection with his dealings with Brown he would not be filing a suit. He had already been paid $500,000 by him. Extortion is best done in the dark. One does not shine a light on it.
Several months after Finnerty filed his suit, Brown filed a counter-claim to it. In it, according to the Spotlight Team, he alleged the “arrangement with Finnerty was the result of persistent illegal pressure, along with threats of political muscle, that forced him to make a payoff for peace.” In other words, he was extorted out of the money.
I have not read the actual papers on file, but I can’t figure out why the FBI was involved in an investigation of this before the Spotlight Team disclosed it publicly. I’m bothered by the Spotlight Team using allegations in a suit as if they are proven fact. In this case it wrote that Brown said former Attorney General Edward J. McCormack “wanted to become a 30 percent to one-third owner in exchange for obtaining project approvals.” McCormack denied this. But Brown’s allegation was repeated over and over again in subsequent articles in the Globe.
Then in an article on February 9, 1989, the Globe reported: “Earlier this week, Brown’s lawyers issued a statement in which he backed off previous statements filed in court that former Attorney General Edward J. McCormack personally approached him in 1983 seeking a 30 percent share of the State Street development. Brown said his information was only based on heresay (sic) but he did not say who told him of the alleged overture by McCormack.”
Brown said he had wanted to correct “an imprecise allegation .“ Imprecise? What’s with Brown’s lawyers putting in a pleading such an allegation? There’s a great difference between being approached personally and asked something and hearing that someone may have said McCormack wanted to do it. Then to compound this, Brown refused to say who he heard it from. Maybe, probably a lot more likely than maybe, Brown made it up just to hurt McCormack. His lawyers were reckless in doing this especially since McCormack was a public figure whose reputation is important. If they’d lie about McCormack, what would they do against Bulger?
How many knew about the Brown retraction? Very few, I’d guess. How long has McCormack’s reputation taken a beating because of this “imprecise” allegation? How many other “imprecise” allegations did Brown and his attorneys throw in his suit which he eventually settled for a $200,000 with a payment to Finnerty. This was obviously much less than Finnerty sought. Brown said he settled because the lawyer’s fees and time involved were not worth continuing it. Finnerty obviously settled because of the embarrassment it was bringing on his friend Billy.
You see rather than litigating the issues between Finnerty and Brown, Brown’s lawyers had another purpose. The suit was being used to go after Billy. They succeeded quite well after their initial thrust probably alerting and providing information to the Globe. They then moved to go after Billy by filing motions to have him provide all his personal financial records to them. Billy wasn’t a part of the suit but it was clear they had schemed to make him their target. Their every move was carried by the Globe with demands that Billy turn over all his records to them. Brown, as I said settled. Were his lawyer’s happy that his client settled for $200, 000 saving himself over a million. No, they expressed their disappointment. It’s clear they were not interested in protecting Brown and they wanted to hurt Billy as were their Globe friends and Leaky John Morris who was passing on the information.
I would point out however that in the December 1988 attack on Billy and all the follow ups to it, there is no mention of Whitey. How would that be if as we’re now led to believe everyone thought there was a corrupt relationship between them? As I have noted before, the allegation that Billy and Whitey had any relationship other than as brothers is a recent invention unsupported by any facts.