Florida’s Outrageous Injustice: The John Connolly Case

Florida JusticeFor five years retired FBI Agent John Connolly has been wrongfully imprisoned in a Florida prison. The Florida Appeals Court refuses to write a decision on his appeal. Is it that the US Department of Justice (DOJ) weighs in so heavily on the Eleventh Judicial Circuit in and for Miami-Dade County that it fails to see that it looks like something rotten is happening? It is so obvious John Connolly should never been incarcerated in Florida that his continuing internment is a mockery of justice. No self-respecting court could countenance such a happening unless it was being influenced by outside forces.

I know Connolly is a pariah. I’m certainly no fan of his. The DOJ, the FBI, and Boston’s media outlets have castigated him. Gangsters used him as a doormat over which to walk to freedom. Yet no man who is innocent should spend a day in prison. Connolly has spent over five years and is facing the future no hope of getting out alive.

Broke, in prison since 2002, abandoned by most, Connolly is represented by law students from the University of Miami School of Law Innocence Clinic. That group on October 9, 2013, filed a Motion for Postconviction Relief.  An inarticulately worded press release about that filing follows in pertinent part:

“On November 6, 2008, FBI agent John Connolly was convicted of shooting a man with a firearm. However, John Connolly was in Boston, Massachusetts, when the shooting took place in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida. Nevertheless, John Connolly has spent the past decade in prison for a murder someone else committed. . . .  [he] grew up in South Boston’s projects, alongside the Irish underworld. These childhood contacts later became Connolly’s key informants to bring down Boston’s Italian Mob in the 1980s.

Twenty years after the fall of the Italian Mob, these informants, cooperated with the government to convict Connolly for racketeering and obstruction of justice. The State’s theory was the Mr.Connolly informed members of the Irish Mafia that the FBI was pursuing one of their gang members for cooperation, which resulted in the murder. 

Because the statute of limitations for a first-degree felony at the time of the murder was four years, and the state did not indict Connolly until almost twenty years after the murder, the state tried to circumvent the statute of limitations through jury instructions. Although Mr. Connolly was convicted of second-degree murder, the state illegally enhanced the conviction to second degree murder with a firearm by instructing the jury that during the act, John Connolly carried a firearm. The indictment, on the other hand, did not charge Mr. Connolly with carrying a weapon. Rather, the indictment alleged premeditated murder by shooting with a firearm. 

It was undisputed at trial that Mr. Connolly was not present at the murder. Indeed, Mr. Connolly was approximately 1500 miles away in Boston. Moreover, the gang member that did shoot the victim testified that he acted alone. Despite this uncontested evidence, the government argued that Mr. Connolly was carrying a firearm, his FBI issued service firearm, in order to trigger the firearm enhancement. Nevertheless, in order for reclassification of second degree murder with a firearm to apply, Mr. Connolly had to have possessed the actual murder weapon at the time of the murder. Mr. Connolly never possessed the actual murder weapon during the commission of the crime.

Mr. Connolly’s attorney highlighted the state’s illegal enhancement in a Motion for Arrest of Judgment on December 2, 2008. The judge agreed with Mr. Connolly, finding the motion to be “legally correct.” However, under Fla. R. Crim. P. 3.590(a), a Motion for Arrest of Judgment
must be filed within ten days of the jury’s verdict. The jury convicted Connolly on November 6,2008. The motion for arrest of judgment had to have been filed by November 16, 2008.

Because of this late filing, the judge was jurisdictionally barred from granting the motion. Since Spring 2013, students Anastasia Cembrovska and Lindsey Halligan of the University of Miami Law’s Innocence Clinic have worked on Connolly’s case. Most recently, the students filed a post-conviction motion for relief, arguing that if it was not for Connolly’s attorney’s failure to file a timely Motion for Arrest of Judgment, Mr. Connolly would be out of prison. The Judge will then either grant a hearing to reconsider the Motion or grant the Motion and release Mr. Connolly from prison.”

In other words to be convicted of the crime for which he was convicted Connolly had to have been the person with the gun, he wasn’t. Even if properly convicted, the statute of limitations had expired. After his conviction, his lawyers had 10 days to set aside the verdict and they failed to file the necessary motion to do this. A case full of errors, an innocent man doing 40 years, and in Florida there is not relief.

There is no way this man should be in prison. I’ll talk about this more tomorrow.

16 thoughts on “Florida’s Outrageous Injustice: The John Connolly Case

  1. Matt, great article! Why is FBI AGENT JOHN CONNOLLY STILL IN JAIL??? Maybe that article should be sent
    To the judges of that appellate court ? Judge Blake the presiding judge at the trial exact words after FBI AGENT JOHN CONNOLLY’s lawyer was late with the motion on the statute of limitations were as follows ” thats alright
    Just file a motion to appellate and you will have no problem, John Connolly did not commit this murder,he is
    Innocent,he was 1500 miles away and did not posess the murder weapon” !!!!!

    1. OHP:

      The judges have before them the motion for hearing. They choose not to act. As I said, there is something rotten when people let a person rot in prison who they know should not be there. That applies not only to the Florida Appeals Court but the Department of Justice under AG Holder and the FBI.

  2. The government lawyers who went after Special Agent Connolly seem to have this burning driving obsession with all things John Connolly. The prosecutors weren’t even Florida prosecutors. They were Boston prosecutors, who went down to Florida, registered to practice in Florida specially for this case, and spent the next year in Florida away from their families, persecuting Agent Connolly. One must ask why these men are so obsessed with John Connolly? And why have they made it their life’s mission to put Agent Connolly in jail for as long as possible, on as many cases as possible? They looked the other way for 100 gangsters just to get Connolly. Admittedly, they even looked the other way on a corrupt FBI SUPERVISOR, just to nail the subordinate. When has that ever happened, anywhere in this country? You give a complete pass to the supervisor in order to nail his subordinate?

    1. Joseph:

      You are absolutely right. Never has so much effort been expended to get one person and then to lock him up for the rest of his life in the face of an absolute injustice. I’m surprised any of these people sworn to uphold the law can live with themselves knowing of this travesty.

      Matt

      1. I worked a lot of cases with the FBI as a member of the NYPD. I have to tell you I wasn’t impressed. It wouldn’t surprise me in the least that his fellow agents throw John Connolly under the bus. The point most absurd for me is the FBI supervisor, Morris. He admitted early on that he accepted bribes and helped Bulger and Flemmi for years. From that statement, prosecutors went forward building a case against Agent Connolly the subordinate. I’ve never in all my years in the NYPD, save one time, have I worked in a situation where the boss was given a pass to bring down the subordinate. It’s like John Connolly was some sort of special prize which required law enforcement to forego all manner of common sense.

        Regarding all these other guys, Salemme, etc., you have to understand that Mafia guys are absolute experts in being able to manipulate a situation, and take advantage of circumstances in order to achieve a desired result. So much so, that a former Mafia boss just wrote a book in the principles of the Mafia, and how to use those same principles in the business world. These guys are masters at getting behind a subject and making it work for him. That’s why, when all these guys realized that John Connolly was their ticket out, they all of a sudden remembered all these conversations and situations involving John Connolly. They’re not stupid; they saw what the government was after, and they tailored their testimony to fit the government’s desires. This is just one more situation where the Mafia is able to use it’s smarts and cunning and deviousness to play the governments for the fools that they are. I hope the Connolly “PROSECUTORS FOR LIFE” are reading this post. I am retired now and would not hesitate to assist in the investigation of the Connolly matter.

        1. Joseph:

          I appreciate the comment. Connolly’s fellow agents for the most part ran for the woods when the troubles began; most are still outside there hiding protecting their pensions. The lack of support he received from the FBI is very telling but there were some who stood up for him, but not many. The Bureau has a way to keep the sheep in check.

          The reason the federals dealt with Morris, which your correctly note is quite unprecedented, is that they were after Whitey’s brother Billy who they wrongly believed was corrupt. I’d take too long to spell out but there has always been a suspect relationship between certain writers at the Boston Globe and the federal prosecutors. Billy and the Globe were quite open in their hostilities to each other. Getting Connolly they hoped will give them Billy plus the case could be framed to dump everything on Connolly and let the others in the FBI skip.

          I’m delighted you talk about the methods of the Mafia. I’ve been suggesting that in the past but it is nice when someone with more street experience than I have confirms how they work, or as you say are “experts in being able to maninipulate a situation.” The two main FBI agents who brought about the Mafia’s demise in New England, Paul Rico and John Connolly, have been labeled as corrupt cops and the basis for that is information provided by Mafia guys and their associates some of which is absolutely laughable but it is believed by the federals. Absolutely right, Connolly was their ticket out of jail, in fact, an FBI informant incarcerated with Salemme told the FBI that Salemme was bragging about picking up hints from the investigators and feeding back to them what they wanted to hear. These gangsters earn their stripes on the streets where you have to be smart and clever to survive; the cops they are dealing with are like babes in the woods when it comes to dealing with them.
          I appreciate your comment. I’ve been suggesting what you more clearly state over the past few months. Thanks. By the way if you’d let me know the name of the book you refer to I’d like that.

  3. One question I do have: If Special Agent Connolly was so corrupt, so friendly with all these guys, and so blatant about it, then why isn’t there a single photo involving Connolly and Bulger? Connolly and Flemmi? Connolly and “Three” Weeks? Connolly and the other members of Bulger’s crew? Weeks is the big one for me. Weeks claimed that Connolly was passing messages to him to give to Bulger. There are many pictures of Weeks. Why are there no pictures of Weeks with Connolly? Weeks claimed that Connolly told him in broad daylight, in front of a crowded liquor store on a crowded street, that it was that exact spot that Connolly passed the message to Weeks that Bulger was about to be indicted. I was always taught that, when someone gets that exact and that precise, he’s lying. Just something to consider.

    1. Joseph:

      You ask good questions which show your experience and intelligence. There are no pictures; only the words of the criminals but strangely enough, Connolly was handling over 10 Top Echelon informants and none of the others have ever come forward and said he was taking money or was corrupt. In your experience that should tell you a lot about him.
      As for Weeks, there is no doubt he lied about the meeting with Connolly at the liquor store. When he testified he said it was a clear cold day; the weather was surprisingly warm and the winds were just below hurricane force. He testified he’d never been friendly with Connolly prior to this time. Imagine this, Connolly a retired FBI agent shows up two days before Christmas at a busy liquor store and talks to Weeks, a guy he’s never been in contact with before. He and Weeks walk into the freezer, according to Weeks, and Connolly tells him the federals are going to come down with indictments after the holidays and to pass the information on to Whitey. There’s no immediacy involved. Connolly could have given Whitey the information himself any other time but he chooses to tell this guy this but he doesn’t stop there. He then tells him that only four people in the FBI knows about it and one of them is O’Callaghan Why would any experienced cop like Connolly have to explain to Weeks the latter stuff. If the meeing happened it certainly would be enough to say: “Tell Whitey the Indictments are coming down over the holiday.” He never would have explained the source of his information.
      The prosecutor argued how would he have known that information if Connolly did not tell him that. That’s easy to answer, Connolly later on met with Weeks on several occassions when he was helping Flemmi who was in jail and he could have told him then, or else, Connolly could have told Whitey who told him, or probably more likely Weeks learned this fact from some other source, perhaps even the questioning by the federals, and fed it back to them.

      But the significance of Weeks remembering this conversation is that had he not remembered or made it up, then Connolly could not have been charged with any RICO charges because the statute of limitations had run. Putting the meeting with Connolly just before Whitey’s flight brought it within the statute. Nice piece of work by Weeks and the federals.

      1. I know exactly how the feds work, especially in a huge case like the takedown of Whitey Bulger. That’s why it is virtually impossible that Weeks met Connolly in broad daylight in front of a liquor store known to be a hangout of Whitey Bulger. The way the feds work is this: once they are sure that they have indictments in hand and are going to unseal them, or once they know that arrests are imminent, particularly on a major organized crime figure, the FBI would’ve set up surveillance 24/7 on all the major players, just to make sure the players didn’t skip town, and to know their exact whereabouts at the moment of arrest. Weeks was Whitey’s right-hand man and would’ve been under 24/7 surveillance. Connolly would’ve known this and NEVER, EVER would’ve have met up with Weeks at this liquor, nor would Connolly have ever shown his face anywhere near that liquor store. If Connolly is so corrupt and so devious and so clever and so careful that he was able to avoid the FBI cameras and FBI surveillance 100% of the time, at a time when surveillance of Bulger, et al., would’ve been randomly done, you really think Connolly would’ve all of a sudden become so sloppy and so careless that he would’ve met with Bulger’s right hand man in broad daylight, in a place known to be a Bulger hangout, at a time when the FBI would’ve been conducting 24/7 surveillance of Weeks? Weeks wasn’t some lacky or some minor associate; he was Bulger’s right-hand man and would’ve been a target of that pre-indictment surveillance. Connolly would’ve known this and would’ve avoided that liquor store AND Weeks, at all cost.

        These are just minor points that go toward the unreasonableness of the case against Connolly. I still can’t get past Morris. They gave him immunity. Not a break. Not “consideration”. IMMUNITY. The feds don’t give ANYONE immunity like that, especially a corrupt supervisor in the FBI. They clearly wanted Connolly. The only question is why.

        1. Joseph:

          Your post reminded me of something I had forgotten so I thank you. During the John Connolly trial the U.S. Attorney Donald Stern testified that once they had decided to indict Whitey and Stevie and the others, they increased their surveillance on them. I recall during the trial I was waiting for some evidence to come in to back up the assertion that Connolly was at the store. As you point out, the liquor store would have been ground zero for it since Whitey, Stevie and Weeks were there all of the times. But none of the surveillance evidence came in nor did the issue arise during the trial from either side. Again, thanks for mentioning that.

          The real problem with Weeks’s scenario is that Connolly had never spoken to Weeks before. Connolly was experienced dealing with criminals and he knew at a minimum not to give someone a bit of information that could come back and bite him. Out of the blue in a non-emergency situation he lets down his guard, goes to a store which you point out was probably under surveillance, talks to a guy he never talked to before, and spells out not only the tip but who gave him the tip. As you point out in the world you know that’d never have happened.

          One thing going for Morris was he was the guy who tipped off the Boston Globe that Whitey was an informant. He did that hoping that when that news was published Whitey might get hit by the Mafia. He thought when he took the last 5,000 from Whitey that Whitey made a recording of it. Morris was the source for Gerry O’Neill at the Globe. O’Neill seemed to be able to go to bat for Morris. He may have interceded for him with the U.S. Attorney’s office to help him out. If you know the relationship between the Globe and that office you’d understand it was much too close; when the U.S. Attorney wanted to undermine Whitey’s brother Billy who was scheduled to testify before a Congressional Committee it leaked his grand jury testimony to the Globe.

          You’re absolutely right the immunity was totally out of line. Not only that, the guy got to keep his pension. It’s all a sad story but as someone with street knowledge unlike the judges and jurors you can smell that things weren’t on the level.

      2. FYI, the author of the book, at least in part, is Michael Franzeze, a former Colombo family captain. While I haven’t read the book, I watched the interview he gave promoting his book, where he speaks about how Mafia guys are the best at getting behind and angling a situation, and making that situation or entity or business, owned by someone else, somehow theirs now. They angle themselves into businesses, place people in key areas, give it time to grow, then before you know it, they’re in control of the entity. Franzeze writes about using these principles in the business world, sort of like what some business people with Sun Tzu.

        1. Joseph:

          The book you refer to is I believe: “I’ll Make You an Offer You Can’t Refuse: Insider Business Tips from a Former Mob Boss” . I’ll have to take a look at it. Appreciate it.

      3. Week’s claim that Connolly told him that “only 4 FBI Agents know about the impending indictments and one of them is sew and sew”. Weeks added a little too much to his story to try to make it believable or to make it sound more credible to a jury. After all, what the hell do they know? And once it’s said, it’s out there, in the minds of the jury. Cant put the toothpaste back into the tube.

        The problem for Weeks, however, is that no experienced cop or FBI Agent would’ve divulged that to Weeks. Whether Connolly was corrupt or honest would’ve made no difference. He just never would’ve made that statement. The FBI puts a premium on secrecy, sometimes to the point where it’s detrimental, particularly in Counter-Terrorism. It’s common knowledge that the FBI is always being accused of not sharing information. So either way, holding onto singular information like that would’ve been in Connolly’s DNA.

        Even an experienced Mafia member never would’ve made that statement. When they’re ordered to hit someone, or if they do a hit for someone else, the one thing they will NEVER do is come back and tell the person where the body is buried. And why not? What if this guy one day flips? He’s got corroboration. Same with Connolly. I never knew Weeks made a statement like that under oath. The FBI Agents interviewing him weren’t fooled. They just had to have ignored the obvious. The thought that Connolly would’ve shared singular information with a stranger simply strains the imagination. One question: were these Agents that investigated Connolly, were they from OPR or organized crime? Organized crime investigators would’ve seen immediately that Weeks was making things up, obviously to impress his handlers.

        1. Joseph:

          You’re right – there was no need for Connolly to name O’Callaghan or to say only four agents knew. Even if there were, he would not have done it to a guy he had no reason to trust. The FBI is notoriously closed mouthed. Connolly was not some young guy feeling his way through to get a grip on things; he’d been dealing with these guys 15 or more years. He knew of the blow back if he put himself in the jackpot for he was continually squeezing guys who were always looking for a deal to get themselves out of a jam.

          The guys that investigated Connolly were not from the FBI. They were a few state troopers and a DEA agent or two for the most part. One of the state trooper Tom Foley had worked with the FBI for a while and he wrote a book about his experience. In the book he says the FBI took down the Mafia at Appalachin which of course is absurd. These weren’t guys who had worked the street that much and would eventually become buddies with the gangsters. I’ve written how they were in court when John Martorano the guy who murdered 20 people and got 12 years was testifying. Martorano being the wise guy he is when asked on cross examination what business he thought he was in said “the monkey business.” These guys sitting in the front row burst out laughing and would continue to play the laughing audience as Martorano tried to play his act. When they were laughing the jury looked sick thinking that Martorano who just got through telling of his 20 murders was joking around. The jury did not believe anything Martorano said; these guys who worked with him had become his buddies. It wasn’t a pleasant experience seeing and realizing this.

  4. Angela Clemente sent me an email today. She will be appearing in the new documentary
    called WHITEY -US VS BULGER

    WHITEY: United States of America v. James J. Bulger / U.S.A. (Director: Joe Berlinger) — Infamous gangster James “Whitey” Bulger’s relationship with the FBI and Department of Justice allowed him to reign over a criminal empire in Boston for decades. Joe Berlinger’s documentary chronicles Bulger’s recent sensational trial, using it as a springboard to explore allegations of corruption within the highest levels of law enforcement.

    see http://www.sundance.org/festival/release/2014-festival-premiere-and-doc-premiere-films-announced/

    Angela also alerted me to a dramatic move she is taking exposing the victims of the FBI’s collaboration with the Mafia. She said there is an embargo on the press release scheduled for the 1st part of January 2014

    Angela is also in desperate need of a kidney donor as her health is declining dramatically.

    news from the whisper stream

    see link for full story
    http://www.infowars.com/boston-bomber-believed-he-was-a-victim-of-mind-control/
    Boston Bomber Believed He Was a Victim of Mind Control

    Tamerlan Tsarnaev feared he had been brainwashed to act on trigger phrase

    Paul Joseph Watson
    Infowars.com
    December 16, 2013

    Suspected Boston marathon bomber Tamerlan Tsarnaev believed that he was a victim of mind control, according to the results of a five month investigation published yesterday by the Boston Globe.

    1. MS:

      Angela knows as much about Whitey as my dog Sparkie. Maybe I can put him on the panel with her; he’s a pretty smart bull dog. The suggestion that Whitey reigned over a criminal enterprise in Boston for decades is a joke; as is the idea anything new was brought out in Bulger’s trial. But since when do people making movies have to stick to facts.

      I wish Angela good luck though in her physical problems and know that she does know some things about the FBI’s dealings with the Mafia.

      I’m interested to see if the AG Holder has the courage to put the Joker on trial for the death sentence. After all he committed a major terrorist act killing 3 people and maiming dozens of others. If he doesn’t then we’re in for some horrible days.

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