Last week we saw that Jeremiah O’Sullivan learned the Massachusetts state police under Sgt Bobby Long had a six month jump on him and the FBI in the pursuit of the Mafia and they were putting an electronic bug into the Lancaster Street garage.
People still argue today about how it happened that Whitey and Stevie knew about that bug. Some point to the crass Richard Schneiderhan who was a state trooper in the Attorney General’s office who was leaking information to his life-long friend Stevie Flemmi but if it were him the FBI wouldn’t have known; others blame an Israeli private investigator skilled at installing electronics (who I worked with for years and had no problems) because he later did some work for the Patriarca family but with him also the FBI would not have known; but I have no doubt it was O’Sullivan because too much was at stake for him to let the state police succeed.
What also gives credence to my belief is that the FBI and the gangsters knew at the same time about the bug. Corrupt FBI agent John Morris asked a Boston Police sergeant at an after work party when he had a wine or two if the state police had something going on at Lancaster Street. At the same time it was apparent the bug had been compromised. When confronted as to how he knew, he made up obvious lies, some of which he later admitted to after being confronted with them.
Maybe O’Sullivan had no choice since the consequences for him were so dire. Down the road his FBI wiretap succeeded to great acclaim and was held up as the way law enforcement should work. The local media played up the FBI’s accomplishments. But even with that, we heard testimony by O’Sullivan before a congressional committee that the special agent in charge of the Boston FBI office gave him a dressing down for daring to help the state police.
I’ve often wondered how O’Sullivan could sit there and not tell the state cops he was up to his eyebrows doing the same thing they were doing only they were six months ahead of him. Isn’t that just one of the indications of his intent to undermine them? Sometimes silence when words should be spoken tells the whole story. O’Sullivan sitting silently let them believe he would help them when he should have told them up front he could do nothing for them.
His problem was compounded by the adamant refusal of the state police to work with the FBI. They knew the FBI could not be trusted when it came to Whitey or Stevie. After the leak was known, they put in on the FBI blaming them for undermining their investigation. O’Sulllivan sat through that meeting and again kept his peace. The FBI would turn around after the meeting and write a report saying the state police were blaming them because it was covering up for two of its trooper who were suspected of being too close to gangsters.
After that relations soured between the FBI and state police soured even more. Morris’s testimony last week had them being not so good even before that time. That’s another story how that came about but it involves around gangster named Myles Connor and the Norfolk DA’s office.
The bottom line was that the FBI knew the state police had almost bested them in 1980 – they were determined that it would never happen again. Not by working harder. Rather by controlling the state police.
In the mid-Eighties he FBI had great influence over the state police operations. Some of its agents like Dennis M. Condon took over positions such as Deputy Public Safety Secretary. The state police operated under the control of the Public Safety Department.
At some point, it was decided that the FBI would in effect take over the state police organized crime operations. Some geniuses in the state police hierarchy liked the idea so a unit was formed where the state police and FBI would work together doing OC stuff. This unit, like those joint terrorism task forces (JTTF), is a way the FBI keeps control of everything that is being done by the state and locals so that nothing will happen that will embarrass it.
It was into that joint task force that young trooper Foley gladly became a member thinking it a great feather in his cap to be working hand-in-hand with these agents. Foley was a witting participant in all their schemes. When he became older and wiser he realized how many times the FBI had been working against what the state police were trying to do and became disillusioned with it. He’d leave that unit and over time rise, like Charlie Henderson, to the top spot on the job.