Is FBI Agent John Connolly a Stand-Up Guy?

(3) John ConnollyYesterday I wrote about the Lad as being a stand-up guy. He lived by a code almost none of his friends did by never cooperating with law enforcement or disclosing the illegal acts of others to benefit himself. When he heard others were ratting people out or writing books he shrugged. Not for him to become an informer, the well-known bane of the Irish during its suppression by the British.

I said there were no stand-up guys among those who associated with Whitey in South Boston; even one guy who did heavy time for not talking felt compelled to write a book about his exploits after he got out of the can in which he implicated others in his criminal acts. That too is a step too far.

There is however one guy from Southie who is involved in this saga who did not talk or write a book; rather he went to trial twice asserting his innocence. He may end up dying in prison. That is retired FBI agent John Connolly.

It’s really incredible when you think of his situation. He has now done more time than John Martorano who murdered at least 20 unarmed people, mostly by shooting them in the head. Connolly never fired a gun at anyone. But I digress.

I’m not going to get into the injustice of Connolly’s situation, I’m only going to discuss the narrow issue: “Is he a stand-up guy?” The answer has to be no.

Here’s why. The concept of a stand-up guy is you commit your crimes with others. When you are caught and offered a deal you don’t turn on your buddies to get a deal for yourself. An example of such a person is the guy Ralph DiMasi who testified during Whitey’s trial. He’d just gotten out of prison after a dozen or more years. He has spent most of his life in prison. He could look back on his misspent youth and adulthood knowing he did his time for his two-bit crimes with honor; he never ratted anyone out.

He made a comment in his testimony about the injustice that others who murdered people and cooperated were walking the street. When you come down to it the system is pretty misguided when the worst criminals who cement their vileness by becoming informants can in most cases do less time thanthose who had lesser involvement in criminal activity with the squealer or were run-of-the-mill criminals who acted alone.

Look at John Connolly’s case. It was his supervisor John Morris who was making a deal against the guy who worked under him. Go figure! It was Morris who got the money from Whitey and Stevie; any evidence Connolly did was disbelieved by the jury. It was Morris who tried to use his witting conspirators at the Boston Globe to publish in that newspaper the information that Whitey was an informant for the FBI hoping to get Whitey hit by the North End. If that happened he figured his depredations would be hidden forever

So why isn’t Connolly a stand-up guy? He’s got no one to stand up for. He wasn’t involved in any criminal activity or conspiracy. He was out of luck since he had no one to turn on.

Remember I told how I went up to him during a recess in the trial. He was standing outside the courtroom in the corridor with his back to the windows overlooking the harbor. This was around the time I figured the trial was more about trying to blacken Billy Bulger’s name than to convict John Connolly.

I approached him. We knew each other from our work. I had one or possibly two matters that caused me to contact him over the years. He was closer to my brothers. As I’ve noted before, my office and the FBI did not see eye to eye. We were by no means friends, and in fact, I was at the trial trying to find out why his FBI squad had done something that I found highly distasteful.

But it bothered me that Connolly was being put out there as a sacrificial lamb by the government which really had another purpose in mind which was by squeezing him they might get something on Billy. I indicated as much to him. He said to me something to the effect: “How could I give them something on Billy? He’s a man of integrity.”

Those words stuck in my mind. Not that I ever doubted Billy’s integrity but because it showed John knew what they were after. He was not willing to make up something to save himself. He knew by saying that to me that had he ever even thought to do it I would be called to impeach his testimony.

He went on to say, either then or another time we talked, that he was told that he could make a deal if he could give someone higher in the FBI. He said he couldn’t do that either because he had nothing to offer. No one he knew had done anything criminal.

John Connolly had fallen into the worst trap anyone could who is prosecuted federally, he couldn’t deal someone else out. He certainly could have made up some lies about others the government was interested in as we saw Martorano do when he put Whitey into some of the killings that were done for Angiulo which by the way the jury disbelieved. But since Connolly believed none of the people he knew or worked with had done anything wrong, he was not going to throw in someone just to get a deal.

So he’s not a stand-up guy under my definition. He’s a guy who refused to lie about other people to save himself. What do we call such a guy? Do we have a term for him?



16 thoughts on “Is FBI Agent John Connolly a Stand-Up Guy?

  1. Matt, from a legal standpoint do you see anything on the horizon as far as cases being reopened or new cases now that John Connolly was vindicated and will be “available?” He could take it to a whole ‘nother level, and help try to get some justice for not only the victim’s families that the general public knows about and were part of the “big show”, but all the other ones that are not so well-known. Maybe even enlist Whitey’s help,….remind him of his own words.. “…met John Connolly, who was a Southie guy, Irish-Catholiic like myself…ya know it ta the…friendship…geez If I ever hear anything I’ll tip you off…give ya a head’s up…an I told him awright John I’ll see ya…I’d appreciate it..” I’d say Whitey owes him a favor. Just a wild thought. Congratulations to John Connolly. Glad his boys get their Dad back.

    1. Rather:
      Reading the dissent which is quite long and abrasive it is clear the case might be continued on. The prosecutor has to decide whether to appeal this decision. The federals will bring a lot of pressure on them to do this since much is at stake in this matter. I assume the supreme court of Florida will have to decide whether to take the appeal or not; if it does it’ll be a year or so before things shake out. Perhaps Connolly can get bail during the pendency of the appeal if one takes place. That would at least put him out of the prison system but again I see the prosecutors opposing that.
      I don’t see the possibility of any other cases on the federal side because Connolly has been locked up for 8 years and all possible statutes of limitations must have run. I don’t see any state DA taking a run at him like the Florida prosecutors did; although it is conceivable that the Suffolk or Middlesex DA could charge him with murder based on some of the gangster evidence but they would first have to explain why they aren’t charging the protected gangsters like Nee or Winter so they’ll probably take a pass.
      Whitey won’t help Connolly, he’s already turned on him at his trial. Frankly, Whitey can’t help anyone anymore – who’d believe anything he said except perhaps Wyshak who falls head over heel for gangster evidence.
      I’d hope the Florida court give John bail while the case goes on. He deserves a chance to get back home but I hope when he does he keeps a low profile while figuring out his next moves.

  2. Rather, Well put . And as we both know … ” … Billy’s older, cooler brother ” … I like that 🙂 … is a Divil’ of a fiddler … sometimes the instrument plays the player as much as otherwise … that makes for some music for sure … We’ll let the figure lay there in Jimmy and John’s case … Who’s to know except the two of them Ultimately …. Great News on John !!!!!!!!

  3. The question now becomes…what does John do from here? I wonder what, if any, interaction he will have with Whitey. Will he spurn him, remain loyal, or be indifferent? Would love to hear his personal comments on TTOWB, or better yet,……see them here.

    1. Rather:

      I’m not sure of the law but John might sue all those who called him a murderer. He might end up living in Howie Carr’s digs in Wellesley and Florida and take some of John Henry and employees money.

      Whitey turned on him. I felt bad for Connolly when it happened Whitey didn’t need to do it especially since he lied about it in terms of amount of money. I’d guess Connolly will be happy to just ignore him; there’s nothing either one has in common anymore.

      John as I’ve said has the gift of gab. I hope before he starts talking he gets some advice so he doesn’t come across as a crank or sorts. Is there a book in his future; who knows.

      1. Maybe like all the book-writers writing under the assumption that Whitey wouldn’t be around to refute anything…..Whitey decided to turn on John because he thought he was gone for 40 years and of no use to him anymore? Maybe the “fiddle” will change hands, and things will come full circle as they sometimes do.

        1. Rather:

          That’s what makes this all so interesting. Remember at the trial Whitey through his lawyers tried to paint Connolly as a really bad FBI agent who was going through other FBI agent files copying information down and then putting it in his own file pretending it came from Whitey. The even brought in some FBI agents who all but testified Connolly was the scum of the earth.
          Yes Whitey figured John was gone forever so he could build his defense on his back. I can’t figure it since Whitey should have known no matter what he did he was never going to hit the street again so why alienate the one guy who went out of his way to help him but as you said he was of no use to him anymore.
          John’s been in prison for 12 years; a tough thing for anyone but for someone in his sixties sliding into his seventies it’s doubly tough. The John Connolly who comes out will not be the same as the one who went in. So no way of knowing what happens next.

  4. A man of integrity. (This is William writing on NC’s page.) I recall it was David Boeri who wrote that John Connolly was offered a deal by Wyshak before his trial in Florida. If Connolly would give him the name of some corrupt FBI agents or some corrupt pols, he would only have to serve “five years,” according to Boeri. Connolly said, as you wrote Matt, that aside from Morris, the self-admitted corrupt FBI agent, Connolly knew of no other corrupt agent nor of any corrupt pol. Connolly had no one to offer Wyshak and he would not fabricate charges against persons he knew to be innocent. Connolly demonstrated he was and is a Man of Integrity. Today’s the 28th of May. 2. “O’Callaghan Way” told us a decision on Connolly’s final appeal in Florida was due today. If there’s any integrity in Florida’s judicial system, John Connolly should walk free today, declared “not guilty” of the “murder by gun” charge: case dismissed and Connolly should be reimbursed for four plus years of wrongful incarceration.

  5. An honorable man he was, in my opinion as well. I think he was basically just trying to do his job (with the blessing of his methods by his superiors.) Morris should be in his place.
    This fine blog has been around for a while now, and if asked if my view of John Connolly has changed, given everything I have learned here, (tip of the hat to Matt and most commenters) then I would have to say it has absolutely, positively improved overall. His Florida conviction is a sham. He has kept his honor. Refuses to manufacture something to lighten his load. Won’t talk to various men in suits. Hope he gets out soon. As I said here a long time ago, Connolly idolized Whitey from boyhood, and whether the bully banishing/ice cream cone incident is true or not, they grew up in Old Harbor together and John knew and looked up to Billy, and Whitey was Billy’s cooler, older, more well-known brother. Not a big leap of deduction. And years later after Condon was getting nowhere with Whitey, they probably figured give the kid a shot. He did. But Whitey would always be older, wiser, and more experienced, not to mention manipulative, self-serving, and treacherous. I believe my quote was “Jimmy played Johnny like a fiddle.”

    1. John:

      I can’t disagree that his position was honorable not wanting to lie to get himself out of jam. Good choice.

  6. Hi Matt,
    The first word that comes to mind for me is scapegoat. It’s like it was a big game of musical chairs ( when Wyshak was stocking his team ) and John got left without a seat.

    1. Rather:

      In John’s case scapegoat is an appropriate description because he was the one on which all the sins of the FBI were to be tossed.

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