O’D is John O’Donovan. He’s a former colonel in the Massachusetts state police. He headed the Bureau of Investigative Services for many years. A former Marine who joined the state police in the old days he was as tough as the name leather neck implies. As expected from a person so constituted he was involved in a gun battle with a notorious hoodlum Myles Connor which put both of them in the hospital. He bled state police blue. Nothing meant more to him than that he was a member of that force. He feared nothing and felt his men could do no wrong.
I had a rocky relationship with him as befitted two stubborn Marine Irishmen. He wanted things done his way which weren’t often my way. So we battled at times. He tried to punish me by not letting his special units work in our county until I agreed to do wiretaps only with the state police. It didn’t work. He once complained to me that it was hard to get the type of person he thought he needed to work these special investigations even though he had many men under him. He wanted people like himself and there weren’t too many around like him. If he found someone then that person became one of his favorites. Bobby Long was one of those guys.
Bobby, or I should say retired Massachusetts Detective Lieutenant Inspector Robert Long, is on the stand testifying now. While setting out his background, he testified about being involved in Operation Lobster. That investigation into truck hijackings was to result in many indictments many of which would be handled by my county.
Around that time we had just brought on board a new superior court assistant named Rikki Klieman. She had been lured from Middlesex County by my boss where she had a good reputation. She immediately became his favorite. We were told she came because the boss told her she could be a big fish in a small pool. But that’s another story.
Anyway the boss assigned the Operation Lobster cases to her. That may have been part of the deal that brought her to over to Norfolk. Rikki was never shy about seeking publicity. She fit in well with us but didn’t stay to long. Bluer skies beckoned. She would go on to Court TV and then even greater fame.
I mention this because one day during that time I was in my office in Bridge Street in Dedham and my phone was buzzed. I picked it up and my secretary Sheila said, “Colonel O’Donovan is here to see you.” I responded,”I know” because he was coming through my door at that moment. That was a typical O’D move to walk past the secretary and barge right in to the office. That day O’D pulled up a chair and leaned forward all business like and said: “I want you to reassign the Operation Lobster cases to another assistant DA. If you handle it then it’ll destroy the morale of the state police.” We were in the middle of one of our feuds and some of his guys were baiting him telling him I had the case. I never let on that Rikki already had it but told him I’d think it over. He marched out of the office.
After he finished Operation Lobster Bobby Long and O’D got involved in the Lancaster Street Garage investigation in the spring of 1980. Bobby and two or three troopers spent three months surveilling a garage on Lancaster Street on the edges of Boston’s North End. They were watching Whitey Bulger, Stevie Flemmi, some Mafia guys and other wise guys meet there every day. While watching they took pictures and surveillance videos.
When we broke for the day yesterday, we were in the middle of watching one of those videos.
After watching and making notes for three months, Bobby developed probable cause to get a court order to put an electronic bug into the garage to listen to their conversations. The wise guys found out about his investigation, most likely from an FBI agent, and shut their operation down. All his hard work seemed to have gone down the drain. O’D was livid at his investigation being compromised.
Now over 30 years later Bobby Long can see that his investigation was valuable after all. The pictures and videos showing Whitey and Stevie together most of the time and showing them meeting with people like Mafia kingpins Larry Zannnino, Donato “Danny” Angiulo, and Mafia associates like Phil Waggenheim, George Kaufman, Angelo Martorano (John’s father), Frank Salemme, Jr. and others are worth their weight in gold to the prosecution.
How’s Whitey to explain this daily meeting and exchanging paper bags with Mafia members? How’s he to explain sitting in a car counting through wads of cash with gangsters? How does this square with the idea that he was just a Southie guy comfortable in his own gambling and loan sharking business?
Bobby Long testified that White and Stevie Flemmi arrived together every day in a Chevrolet with dealer’s plates. They seem like two peas in the same pod. His old pictures have severely limited the Whitey’s options. It must be satisfying to Bobby Long to be sitting on the stand and making use of the material he could not use those many years ago. O’D now looking down on these proceedings. I’m sure has one of his rare smiles on his face.
A few years back before O’D got ill I met with him at a restaurant across from 1010 Commonwealth Avenue. I had a salad while he downed a couple of plates of buffalo chicken wings. We had a nice talk and settled our differences over the meals and a beer of two.
I always thought O’D knew we would never see his like again when he passed from the scene. He was right.