John Connolly Week: (8 of 10) – The Boston Jury

The story above is a somewhat truncated version of the story told to a Boston federal jury  but also a limited picture because it is difficult to show the true happenings of how gangsters operate “on the street” in a courtroom. I had one prosecutor in a case tell me that the witness in response to a question asked how he knew something answered that was the word “on the street.” The prosecutor, not really being from the neighborhoods, asked the witness: “what street was that?”

That’s the problem with any trial. It is difficult to establish the ambiance of the happening. There is so much that goes into our everyday dealings and decisions that a sterile courtroom can never capture. Frank Salemme testified about a killing: “We always wanted to know who was capable of doing that, because you had to know who was out on the street who would do that.”  Kevin Weeks would say of Whitey: “he was acutely aware of what was going on around us. . . . we’d just keep our eyes on what was happening around us and our ears tuned into what people were saying and who was doing what.”

How do you explain to jurors that how gangsters operate and that Martorano would have known Callahan was being looked at by the FBI just in the normal course of affairs?. How do you explain to jurors you have to be friendly with criminal informants and treat them with respect even though you despise them if you want to get any information from them? How do you show how much information is constantly being touted or tossed about in every minute of the life of a gangster?

The Boston jury hearing the evidence about Callahan came back with its finding. Perhaps because I read recently that back in 1815 New England was the most literate place in the nation with a literacy rate exceeding 95% the jury was able to look through the government’s case and see it was made out of whole cloth. It was based on the word of a well paid-off murderer who never met the defendant. The jury found the government failed to prove Connolly obstructed justice by leaking that Callahan would be questioned.

How then is he doing time in Florida for the thing which he was found not to have done in Massachusetts. There’s this fiction created in the United States that there are two sovereign powers: the federal government and the state. Therefore a person’s act can be an offense against both sovereigns. It give the second jurisdiction a second bite of the apple.

It really means that in the United States you can be tried twice for the same crime despite the common belief that once acquitted you walk free. What made Connolly’s conviction in Florida so egregious was the federal prosecutors and investigators who lost the case in Boston just upped and moved to Florida to try it again. It seems to me the Florida prosecution was really a second bite out of the apple since the same evidence and team did both cases. But before going to Florida there is another part of Connolly’s case that deserves close attention.

In Boston Connolly was charged with racketeering with 14 individual offenses and four other substantive counts. The jury found 9 of the 14 not proved. Of the 5 it found proved 2 related to his alleged telling people indictments were coming down which as I noted Morris said that was the deal with them.

One of the witnesses against Connolly was Frankie Salemme a former head of the Mafia.  Salemme had done 16 years for blowing up the car of a lawyer and maiming the lawyer. He was hiding out in New York City when Connolly being assigned there as an FBI agent spotted him (knew him from the L Street bathhouse) and arrested him.  After he got out he ran into Connolly who was no longer an FBI agent. They met twice in Connolly’s office to discuss old times. Connolly told him he was writing a book. Salemme worried the book made him look like a stool pigeon.

Salemme testified Connolly promised to tip him off that indictments were coming down. This clearly supported two of the jury’s findings and perhaps the other three in the racketeering indictment. Salemme also testified that while he was Mafia boss no murders were committed by him or under him. This was later shown to be a lie and he was involved in at least two and was indicted for perjury..

He also testified he did not dislike Connolly and never held it against him that he arrested him in New York City. However Salemme told an FBI informant in prison: that “he and his family had suffered for years and now it’s Connolly’s turn.” Both of these lies directly bore on whether the jury would give him any credence. The jury disbelieved everything Martorano said; it likewise might have done the same with Salemme if it knew he murdered people whiie Mafia boss and was getting revenge against Connolly.

Connolly brought this up his lies in a motion for a new trial. It was denied so he appealed. The appeals court said it wasn’t important and did not affect the jury’s decision.

5 thoughts on “John Connolly Week: (8 of 10) – The Boston Jury

  1. Connolly never ran into an honest judge in Boston and the majority of those in Florida were dishonest too. Basic Constitutional principles of Double Jeopardy and Due Process ( Statue of Limitations and no evidence on essential elements at trial) should have precluded any convictions. 2. If liberal judges have unfettered discretion to make up law as they did in Connolly’s case then no one is safe. If the fine for speeding is $200 can a liberal judge fine Donald Trump Jr. $50 million for speeding because he may be unpopular? Our country is in grave danger if judges don’t follow the law.

  2. “How then is he doing time in Florida for the thing which he was found not to have done in Massachusetts.” Was the charge in Florida, murder, one of the charges brought against Connolly in Boston? How would Massachusetts have jurisdiction over a killing that occurred in Florida? While the evidence proffered may have been the same in both cases, were the charges the same? Analogy as to evidence: That a man proves that he was not speeding, thus avoiding a ticket, does not render him innocent of driving a getaway car.

    “Salemme testified Connolly promised to tip him off that indictments were coming down.” If Connolly at this time was no longer part of the FBI what is illegal with this? Not privy to inside information all he would have is gossip, second hand information. Is it a crime to gossip, to muse about what is “on the street?” If there is any fault here it would be on whoever on the inside tipped off Connolly. This is not to say that one cannot see wrong in what Connolly allegedly did, but that it does not sink to the level of a criminal action.

  3. Hi Matt and thanks for an interesting well written article on your blog and for answering my questions in the previous articles.

    Did Bulger work it out on his own that Flemmi had a relationship with the FBI?

    What is your understanding of Doc Sagansky and was he connected to the Angiulos?

    How did the late George Kaufman fit into Winter Hill and the Mafia?

    1. David:

      To the best of my understanding:

      1. Flenmmi had a long standing relationship with Rico who passed him on t Condon when Rico left Boston in 1970 and Condon passed him m on to Connolly somw time after that. Flemmi was on the lam until 1974 and did not get to meet whitey until after he returned to Boston whenCondon greased the skids and got charges against him dismissed. Whitey interacts closely with him sfter that. Sometime in 1975 Whitey becomes an FBI informant. How it came about that Whitey and Flemmi who were partners disclosed to each other that they were working with the FBi’s John Connolly is somewhat of a mystery. If you ask Whitey – he would deny he ever was one and will say he did not know Flemmi was; if you ask John Connolly he has a bull story about meeting Whitey at Wollaston beach that omits the fact that he did not need Whitey because he already had Flemmi; if you ask Flemmi he’d probably lie. No one seems to know that answer. My guess is Flemmi told Whitey about how the FBI protected him and suggested they both work together to use the FBI for their own purposes. Flemmi would have pitched that the info they would give Connolly would be nothing other than stuff against the Mafia and the protection they would get (both had no desire to go to the can) would be priceless.

      2. Doc was paying tribute to the Angioulos so tha he could operate freely under their protection with the Jewish gamblers.

      3. George Kaufman was a long time buddy of Salemme and Flemmi. He helped them shake down some of the Jewish bookies. He stored guns for they and helped them move money around. He was close to them but stood back from most of the violent stuff.

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