In my career as a prosecution which mainly involved working with investigatory police units doing electronic surveillance I was fortunate that with a rare exception to work with fine, honest, courageous, dedicated men (women officers were not part of these special units). I was proud to have known them especially to see from the inside their high ethics in work and in life. I mention a few who come to mind and apologize to those of equal ability, who I omit.
Some sought to continually understand the law to improve their skill like Paul Stone and Bill Brooks. Peter was not one of them. Others were effective leaders like Charlie Henderson, Dave Rowell, Jim Sharkey and Rick Zebrasky. Peter was not one of them. Some were relentless planners and tacticians like Dick Bergeron, Mark Cronin, and John Naimovich. Peter was not one of them. Some were highly skilled in certain areas like Brian Howe (homicides) and John Gallagher (white collar). Peter was not one of them. Others were all around detectives skilled in all aspects of the work like Steve Lowell, John Sprague, Dave Brown, Paul Snow and countless others. Peter was more like them.
Those I mentioned and many more who now come to mind who I cannot because of space were all outstanding and upstanding police officers. But of all of them I liked Peter the best. He became a friend who I continued to associate with long after I left the business of prosecution behind me.
Peter had many skills. One which was priceless was his inimitable personality and bright smile. He was highly intelligence with an extraordinary ability to make friends, develop informants, learn what was going on out in the street, and spin yarns. Along with that.Peter was a guy who was totally loyal.
Peter came to meet me in 1976. He was a detective in Rowell’s little unit investigating organized crime then consisting of: Rowell, Peter, Dick Bergeron, Paul Snow and Bob Crowley. He wanted me to do a wiretap. Prior to becoming a DA I worked as a defense lawyer in a firm which represented Mafia leaders and others. I represented one of the defendants in the first state prosecution that came from a wiretap. Rowell through his connection with DA Bill Delahunt learned that and sent his most persuasive detective out to talk me into doing one. Peter eventually did.
I recall my first trip to the location where that little team of Quincy detectives operated out of. When I walked in all the boards on the walls were covered by sheets. I would eventually learn under them were the charts and schematics of the men in the organized crime groups around the Boston area with Whitey Bulger sitting at the top.
It wasn’t a warm welcoming outside of Peter who brought me there. Knowing my background I was held in high suspicion. It went away quickly, we eventually did the wiretap, and our April 1967 raids throughout the area had us in the headlines of the Sunday Globe. From then on Peter became the emissary from Quincy.
Peter enjoyed a good time. He had many friends, contacts, and stories to tell. He was mischievous. He was behind giving me two cognomen: first Fletcher and then Monty. He was loyal. He told me with a big laugh as we rode down in the elevator of the New Courthouse building in Boston coming from a visit to the AG’s office that one cop there who did not know me and did not know of our friendship pulling him aside and telling him: “watch out for Connolly. He’s no good.”
I loved to go to have a couple of beers with Peter. We had planned to do that last fall but family matters took me out-of-state. By the time I got back Peter had suddenly died on December 3. I would not learn of it until the February that followed.
My memories of him bring smiles to my face. Driving along Route 128 in a huge truck filled with pallets, going out of his way to get his sister Anne to help us out during an investigation, sending him to lock school in Florida and his inability to pick a lock after he got back, helping with the installation of “slave” devices, standing up for others who were being maligned, signing his investigatory reports with his name and the other detective, Charlie Rogers. When preparing for trial each one pointed to the other as the source of the information. I couldn’t get mad at him but it made the trial somewhat messy.
Peter started a detective agency after he retired. It was called 20/20. I had retired and helped him a bit with legal stuff. The last time I recall seeing him he was working for an auto supply store in Holbrook. I had to meet him for whatever reason I now forgot. We met in a small town bar. It was a hot day. The waitress was serving buckets consisting of a metal pail, six 12 oz bottles of Bud on ice. They seemed to go quickly as I spoke with Peter and his buddies, one I remember was a Navy Seal. I nursed a couple and left. I did not have anywhere near the capacity of the others.
I attended his wedding to Cheryl. The bakery spelled her name Sheryl. No one made a big deal about it and It didn’t dampen down the celebrations. Their first son they named Matthew. Peter told me he was named after me. I’d meet in him when he got into minor difficulty in high school where I volunteered to represent him. Peter told me he wanted to go into the Army and follow in his footsteps as a police officer. The case resolved itself. Matthew went into the Army and was killed in Iraq in June 2011. That hurt Peter deeply and was never far from his mind.
Peter was always loyal and available to help me. He was a great detective. He was a good friend like the ones you don’t see for a year or two and when you get together it was just like yesterday when you last saw them. It was comforting to know I could always call on him when I needed something. That’s gone now. I feel the loss. I rue his passing knowing I’ll never meet a man like him again and a part of me has been torn away.
May he rest in peace.