Judge Wolf is Wrong In Clinging To the Sampson Case: Time To Think of the People and Not Yourself

justice weepsA few days ago I wrote of how Justice Souter sitting on the First Circuit Court of Appeals said that Judge Richard Stearns had to step down from handling the Whitey Bulger case because “a reasonable person might question the judge’s ability to preserve impartiality through the course of this prosecution and the likely rulings made necessary by the immunity claim.”

I explained that Whitey’s lawyers wanted Judge Stearns to step down because he was in a command position in the U.S. Attorney’s office during the time that Whitey was promised immunity by another U.S. Attorney. Judge Stearns rightly refused for the simple reason he had no reason to believe any immunity promise was ever made to Whitey. He did not even have before him an affidavit or any statement setting forth when the promise of immunity was made, who made it, and what the terms of it were. Justice Souter wrongly said (without any evidence) it was so that Whitey would give information and he did this in the face of evidence to the absolute contrary, that is, Whitey said he never gave anyone information.

So Justice Souter based on unproven facts assumed the existence of something that the lawyers before him seeking relief denied existed. Judge Stearns even though he is not from Missouri said to the lawyers: “show me!” They never did. Despite that Justice Souter found Judge Stearns had to step down.

Reading the Patriot Ledger I have learned that a judge in the same court as Judge Stearns has decided he will not recuse himself in the case of Gary Lee Sampson. This judge, Mark Wolf, justified his decision according to the Patriot Ledger in a 114 page decision. You might know that Judge Wolf often writes long decisions. He apparently believes there is a connection between length and substance when others believe the longer a decision is the more it is used to hide the truth and throw up smoke in the eyes of the reader.

Judge Wolf wrote the 661 page decision in the hearings that led to Stevie Flemmi admitting he was an informant. His wisdom was shown when he wrote that he believed Stevie Flemmi (how anyone could believe anything Benji Ditchman said is in itself astonishing) when Flemmi said that John Naimovich was his informant on the Massachusetts State Police. It would turn out that it was not Naimovich but Richard Schneiderham.

Judge Wolf was not wise enough to know that Flemmi would protect his source and name a state trooper who was dead. Judge Wolf did not stop there. He believed Flemmi he said because Naimovich was convicted of corruption. That too was wrong. Naimovich was acquitted by a jury in Wolf’s court of that charge. You have to know how totally innocent Naimovich was when something like that happens in federal court in Boston.

Now Judge Wolf tells us:  “After careful consideration, I find that a reasonable person fully informed of the relevant facts could not question my impartiality in this case based on my participation’’ with the prison rights advocate and expected witness for Gary Sampson psychiatrist James Gilligan. 

That participation was having Gilligan in for lunch at his home on Martha’s Vineyard over a meal of lobster rolls and Wolf’s later participation in a panel discussion involving Gilligan. Sorry to tell you judge, despite your careful examination, I for one “question the judge’s ability to preserve impartiality through the course of” the hearing and rulings on whether Sampson should get the death penalty.

Let’s cut to the chase. When the matter of Judge Stearns recusal came up I suggested that it would be best if he stepped down not that I doubted he would be totally impartial or that I believed so-called immunity defense had any validity. I was confident he would give Whitey as fair a trial as any other judge. But because I believed that judges should not seem to want to cling to cases I suggested he step down. Why then is Judge Wolf so anxious to cling to this case.

In the case involving Judge Stearns’s recusal Judge Souter wrote that: “Hence, a district judge asked to recuse “is not to use the standard of Caesar’s wife,’ the standard of mere suspicion.”  He went off to suggest there should be necessary independent support for a challenge to impartiality with the potential to produce bias, . . . “

There is much more than suspicion here. The judge and a main witness for the defense had a lobster lunch together at his house. How can we ever believe the judge will be impartial? Is not the better thing to do to pass the case on to another judge and do away with this issue? Writing a 114 page decision seeking to explain why in the face of an obvious conflict he believes he can still sit on the case in itself suggests he should step down.

32 thoughts on “Judge Wolf is Wrong In Clinging To the Sampson Case: Time To Think of the People and Not Yourself

  1. Matt,
    Wolf may have been duped (to a degree) by Benji, but his hearings in ’98 are what blew the roof off this thing…no could have ever imagined the chain of events set off by that.

    “Blame it on the dead guy” is Gangster 101 and was used successfully many times over the years by “Benji” and “Bootsie.”

    Naimovich was a patsy, and Schneiderham(and egger) was the real source, true, but he went down eventually.

    What a long, strange trip it’s been….

    1. MDC Det. Joe McCain, Sr. is another potential source. Joe McCain was personally associated with Winter Hill, the TE informants, IRA members, OC Strike Forces, AG, Suffolk DA, Gary Crossen, and Dennis Condon.

      1. Bruce:

        I knew Joe and worked with him on a couple of cases. I did a wiretap with him and his group of MDC detectives. It was on a house in Randolph. During it we picked up Whitey and Stevie in a brief conversation that was not incriminatory. I had to notify them that they were picked up . I’m sure they weren’t happy to receive that notice. I never heard how they reacted. The case was never prosecuted because the case file in the custody of the MDC police went missing, if you can believe it. I was told to move on the case would jeopardize the lives of the informants.
        After that Joe got shot doing a raid which I had nothing to do with. He was in the hospital for a bit and when he got out he retired and started a detective agency. He did pretty well with it. He passed away a few years back. He was a good guy.

        1. Matt,
          Joe was a big likable guy but he grew also up on Marshall Street and was a close friend of Howie Winters, Buddy McClean, Dennis Condon, Gerry Clemente, and later Gary Crossen.

          Joe started the detective agency with Bob Fitzpatrick. But Fitzpatrick quit because of the Demoulas case when Joe, Crossen, Daly, and Arthur T. planted the phony bugs in Demoulas office, then bribed George Kattar with for perjured testimony of his son Kevin to say Arthur S planted them. When that failed, they paid Christine Primo $500k to set up PI Ernie Reid and testify in federal court. After that failed Joe they framed up Judge Maria Lopez, her law clerk Paul Walsh, Anthony Pelusi, and Bob Gerrard.

          I’m sorry if Joe was your friend but he was a Winter Hill guy and dirty. involved in

          1. Bruce:

            Interesting matters you bring up which have the ring of truth to them. I said I like Joe McCain from my limited dealing with him that was strictly professional; I never suggested he was my friend. I never knew of his connection with Somerville, Howie or Buddy, or the others.
            I find it intriguing he got together with Fitzpatrick to set up the detective agency. I didn’t know about the other stuff with Demoulas but do remember something about Ernie Reid who I think was a private detective and from Dedham. I knew Gary Crossen when he was a prosecutor. He was another guy I liked. I was surprised and a little disappointed to see he got himself mixed up in the deal with the judge, Kevin Curry, and her clerk.
            I know McCain’s agency was investigating the judge. I had a visit from a detective I had worked with before who I think I remember who it was but not being sure won’t mention his name but I believe he was out of Watertown. He was asking me about what I knew about an attorney and his relationship with the judge. I knew nothing and told him that. When he left I called up the attorney who I liked and told him there were people snooping around about him and the judge. My recollection is that he already knew it.

            Never knew Joe was dirty or a Winter Hill guy but if true that might explain some things that puzzled me.

        2. That wire you mentioned was the Davis house. Debbie and her brother got killed. Joe did initially try to protect Brian Halloran (or himself) but he was a Teamster on both sides of it.

          1. Bruce:

            You surprise me that you knew about the wiretap. I did not think that was common knowledge.

            I didn’t know Joe had a connection with Halloran but if he was with Winter Hill then that would also seem to fit.

    2. Rather:

      True – his hearings are responsible for showing us Flemmi and Whitey were informants although Flemmi was the one who outed himself thinking that he could walk away from the charges and bring his criminal buddies along with him.

    1. Impossible! Wyshak stated under oath that no deal was made with Flemmi. Do you think he would prevaricate in federal court? Never mind that he’s a serial killer. In what world would the U.S. attorney EVER let a guy like that out of prison?

      1. Whitey Bulger and Weeks referred to Steve Flemmi as “Dr. Mengele” because Flemmi mutilated the victims by removing their teeth, hands and feet. It’s nice to know that they’re all out now except for Whitey, still protected and back in business.

        Nothing has changed.

        1. Bruce:

          True – nothing has changed except Whitey is still not in town except we can see his imitator at a local theater sometime soon.

      2. Declan:

        Actually, Wyshak has never been under oath with respect to Flemmi. He did represent some things to the court but always left an opening for himself not to be pinned down. It is strange that Flemmi has never been in the custody of the Bureau of Prisons – where is he is the real question, or, even better, how can a person be sent to the Bureau of Prisons and not go there. Is there some type of loophole in the system where it becomes all pretend for those connected well enough?

    2. Bentley:

      I just know he was sent to prison. I check the Bureau of Prison’s web sight and it says that he is not in its custody. Therefore he must be some where outside in someone else’s custody like the U.S. Marshall but I’m not familiar with their prison system if they have one. As far as checking further, I’m not sure anyone will give me an answer but he may be out in some victim witness program. Hopefully he’s on some island.

  2. Matt
    I am curious if you have an idea of when you will start breaking down each murder Whitey was convicted of in a court of law. I am curious as to why, for example, Whitey decided he “had” to murder Bucky Barrett. I am aware Whitey Bulger extorted, intimidated, threatened many individuals but he did not kill all of his victims. I would enjoy and appreciate a break down of each murder Whitey did do and also the ones he was accused of but not found guilty. I ask you because of your expertise in motives and reasons behind these criminal acts.

    You bring a wealth of knowledge and experience and UNBIAS that is lacking in the books on Whitey Bulger. I will go see the movie Black Mass but I dont like some of the castings. I could be wrong but I think the script will lack the coldness, brutality, and most of all reality regarding Steve Flemmi, John Martorano, and Whitey Bulger. I would have liked to see John Malkovich play Whitey Bulger. What I think the movie will come up short in is the evolution of Whitey Bulger as a criminal. How is sociopathic behavior became worse AFTER his long prison stint and his prison stint did not deter him from committing more violent criminal acts.

    1. One major point being overlooked is their shipments of weapons, explosives and money sent to the Provisional Irish Republican Army (PIRA). Many PIRA murders, bombings (i.e., Lord Mountbatten, Captain Westmacott, SAS, civilians, attempted assassination of PM Margaret Thatcher) were the result of Boston weapons from Ft Devens, Danvers National Guard Armory, ect.

      The Valhalla was a Boston informant setup with FBI, CIA, and MI5. McIntyre and IRA informant Sean O’Callagan were FBI/ Boston Globecover stories.

    2. Jerome:

      I am not looking to break down the murders at any time soon. I have been doing other stuff than examining that but with respect to Bucky Barrett I’d suggest Whitey had no real reason to murder him because he had no fear of Barrett becoming an informant – people like Barrett who are criminals themselves usually did not go around informing on people like Whitey. Whitey wanted to extort him which he did – why he then murdered him is that he may have plainly and simply gotten out of control. But that too doesn’t explain it so give me some time and I’ll do a better job analyzing it. Keep in mind though that it was in Weeks’s interest and in Flemmi’s interest to make Whitey the heavy – Flemmi was the one who enjoyed the murders.

      Keep in mind there is no evidence Whitey committed any murders until his mid forties. He was a tough kid who held up banks but until he got out of prison there’s no evidence he injured anyone. He has no record that I know of in prison that showed he was violent. It’s not clear after he got out whether it was Billy O’Sullivan or Whitey who killed the wrong brother; when O’Sullivan was murdered by the three or more Mullens in Savin Hill Whitey was then on his own. A great mystery is the McIntyre murder; Whitey had no reason to kill him since he never talked to Whitey so he could not have feared he was informing on him.

      1. Matt
        Once again an excellent commentary and analysis by you Matt. The reason I ask about you breaking down each murder Whitey was convicted of doing and the ones he was found not guilty is because THAT (for me personally) would help tying all of this together. Like many people I took what I read in BLACK MASS, HITMAN, DEADLY ALLIANCE, etc at face value. I was not aware of Morris trying to out Whitey as an informant in order for him to be killed. I was also not aware that Weeks, Flemmi, Martarano and others were lying in order to get such sweet deals and hence lie about what Whitey did and didnt do.

        When I suggest breaking down each murder associated with Whitey I ask because you, more than any other author, has the knowledge and experience to piece together WHY a certain individual was murdered and WHO most likely did the murder.

        What has not become clear to me is WHY Whitey Bulger would murder certain individuals BASED on the reasons Weeks and Martarano have given in testimony. for example, why would Whitey Bulger murder John McIntyre for “informing” on him when he was being protected by the FBI as a Top Echelon Informant.

        Also, how do we know that Whitey Bulger gave the approval on killing Roger Wheeler?

        You bring up a great point about Whitey having not done any great harm to any individuals until in his 40s. Thats why I was wondering if his sting in prison and his use of LSD amped up his degree of narcissism and sociopathic behavior where he could now murder someone and have no remorse. We know Steve Flemmi was killing individuals at a much younger age and his stint in Vietnam showed he could kill others without remorse.

        Anyway, I know Black Mass will not answer the questions you and others have raised on this blog but I will go see it for entertainment purposes and not looking for answers to my questions. I re-read Black Mass. I think it could have used a better editor. I think DEADLY ALLIANCE is a much better written book. My 2 cents

        1. Jerome:

          The basic thing you look for in any murder is a motive. There is usually a reason why someone is murdered. Another thing you look for is if a person is giving you information on a murder (or most crimes) you have to ask why the person is giving it? Running throughout all of the matters involving Whitey and the gangsters he worked with is that they were giving the feds the information the feds wanted to hear which was given in exchange for deals for themselves. Obviously they would make Whitey look as black as they could and would make their role as being passive participants. How else do they get a good deal unless they do that? The feds were accepting everything they threw at them because it fit into their plan to get as much as possible against Whitey.
          Keep in mind John Martorano is given credit because the feds say if he did not tell them about the murders he committed they would never know what happened. Does that make sense? If you went out and murdered Jane Doe and the cops had no idea how it happened and you came in and confessed to the murder do you think you’d be given a hearty handshake by the cops and congratulated for telling them how you murdered her? The idea you get a break by disclosing how you committed the murder (nevermind 20 murders) just doesn’t cut it. The feds also say they would never have gotten Martorano on the murders if he didn’t tell them about it but that too is untrue since others were very willing to get their own deals by ratting out Martorano.

          That is why blaming Whitey for the murder of Debbie Davis and Deborah Hussey is hard to do since he had no motive (the one Flemmi ascribes to him is nonsense). Even the McIntyre murder, the one who had to fear what McIntyre was saying was Pat Nee who was a buddy of Kevin Weeks and brought McIntyre to the house to be murdered. That could strictly have been a Nee/Weeks deal since they had the motive; as I mentioned before Whitey never interacted with McIntyre so he had no worries or motives when it came to him. If that is so why would he murder him? Weeks to make a deal (and perhaps Nee) would gladly put in on Whitey.

          Again, Whitey had no dealings with Callahan when it came to the murder of Wheeler. That was a Martorano scheme that originated in Florida and needed now blessing from Whitey. Follow the logic there and you see how Martorano just threw Whitey in. Step back and see that the only one Callahan could implicated in the Wheeler murder was Martorano and Martorano obviously had the motive to murder him, not Whitey. (Recall that in Boston in the Connolly case the jury disbelieved all the evidence Martorano gave.)

          Whitey may not be as much of a cold blooded murderer as he is put out there to be. Clearly the history of Martorano and Flemmi show they were murdering people from when they were in their Twenties. I’ll have to attend the movie at some time; but keep in mind the book was supposed to be factually correct and the movie based on the book is expected to take liberties (Flemmi was in Korea, not Vietnam)

      2. Matt
        Its in analyzing each murder that Whitey did and didnt do (based on who knows WHAT? evidence) that I think would help piece a lot of this together and answer some questions. Of course a lot of this is pure speculation because Whitey Bulger, Steve Flemmi, Kevin Weeks, John Martarano know what REALLY HAPPENED and why and even then I am sure they kept certian information away from each other.

        Its interesting how much Kevin weeks defers to Whitey and Steve Flemmi also plays No. 2 to Whitey. That could be an act by both of them. I suspect that Steve Flemmi was much more ruthless, cold, and violent than Whitey Bulger for a much longer time. The perspective I have of Whitey Bulger is that yes he did murder and could murder but he had a strategic motive and planned out reason for committing murder. Thats why some of these stories dont make sense. Because in some murders I dont see what Whitey Bulger had to gain my killing certain individuals. Anyway I am repeating myself and look forward to your analysis of all the murders in the future when you feel ready to do so.

  3. Matt,
    I disagree with you on the Sampson case recusal of Judge Wolf. This is nothing like Judge Stearns, who’s recusal was due to then AUSAs Stearns, Mueller, Crossen, and Woodlock’s prior knowledge, willful blindness, and cover-ups of several murders by Whitey/Flemmi as AUSAs. Sampson is a weak death penalty case and a US Attorney’s Office PR smear campaign against Judge Wolf.

    1. Bruce:

      I agree with you that Sampson is a weak death penalty case. How can the Boston US attorney be looking to put him to death when it has Flemmi, Weeks, Salemme, Martorano in one type of deal or protection program. I just have the opinion that judges should not be hanging on to cases if their involvement is legitimately questioned as Wolf’s is.

      I’m also not sure that the AUSA’s were willfully blind. Back when Stearns was an AUSA it was not known that Whitey was a murderer. Further, the AUSA’s depend on the FBI to get them information and if the FBI is protecting Whitey and Stevie they are not telling the AUSAs about their doings.

      1. If Judge Wolf recused on the basis of the United States or Defendant party calling a non-fact expert witness well into a 10 year jury tried case, every trial could be open to manipulative judge shopping. Almost every former government attorney, attorney, law clerk or judge with a social life could be challenged on that basis. Judge Wolf merely decides if he qualifies to testify as an expert under the Daubert standard (a non-issue) but the jury determines his credibility.

        1. Bruce:

          Those are good points especially when you note if defense counsel looked long enough they’d probably be able to find some reason or other to kick judges off their cases until they found one they like. I also suggest you correctly note that the jury is to make the factual decision. I had it in my mind for some reason that it was going to be a non jury matter. So it may not be a clear that he should have recused himself as I originally set out since the jury will be the one to determine how much if any of the expert to believe.

      2. There were several crews with access to different corrupt law enforcement officials and politicians at different levels. Sure the FBI had major issues but DEA, ATF, MDC, MSP, and Customs also had significant “personnel” issues. To a degree, I believe that the FBI “took one for the team”.

        1. Bruce:

          I’m not sure how far the corruption spread. I hate to think I was very naive in dealing with some of the cops. If McCain was dirty then the wiretap I was doing was doomed from the start. That is a terrible thought to have since a great effort was put into it and it was going along quite well up until it dissolved at the end.

          As far as the FBI taking one for the team, it never happened before or since so I’m not sure it happen then. It is not built that way.

    1. Henry:

      Thanks. It appears others are also onto what is happening in the Justice Department. I think it is a case of too many people looking for too few crimes; and when the real criminals come they will be looking at the wrong people.

        1. Rather:

          Benji might be doing all right in the witness protection program. He probably drops by Boston for a visit or two. He did all right for himself thanks to the federals.

        1. Rather:

          The Congressional Hearings and Judge Wolf’s hearings only dealt with one of 56 FBI offices. There is every reason reason to believe that what happened in Boston happened elsewhere in the FBI since it is such a cookie cutter operation. That is the problem with Black Mass and all the other local media that it keeps the lid on all the other problems that have occurred throughout the United States in FBI offices.

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