Searching For The Truth From a Gaggle of Gangsters Is An Impossible Task

I wrote yesterday how Judge Wolf was picking and choosing which of the many lies of Stevie Flemmi he believed.  One person (Neal) who has written comments to me has suggested that isn’t there some point at which it becomes prosecutorial misconduct to put a liar (and murderer) on the stand and expect people to figure out what part of his story is correct.  I suppose he’s suggesting that some people should be disqualified as witnesses since they will say whatever they think the government wants them to say and there is no way the government can find out whether it is true of not.  Yet the government vouches for the person by putting him on the stand.

I’m sure you’ve all heard how FBI Agent John Connolly was convicted.  Did you know he had three gangsters testify against him and none of the testimony of gangsters Martorano or Salemme was believed by the jury?  Only one event the gangster Weeks testified about was believed but that was corroborated by independent evidence which gave it a ring of truth.

Despite this, the prosecution paraded this group of witnesses to Miami and had them testify in front of another jury.  The Florida jury believed them.  We had a Boston jury that didn’t and a Florida jury that did.  It looks like this is sort of flip-a-coin justice — if you put the same facts in front of enough juries every once in a while you’re going to come with a win.  It all seems very much like the guessing game, “which hand do I have the coin in?”  It’s sort of a strange system of justice.

Take the FBI Agent Morris who was Agent Connolly’s superior.  He lied time after time in FBI 302 reports he filed.  He testified he lied to other FBI agents when asked under oath if he was a leak to the Boston Globe.  A second time he was asked again he lied under oath.  When he received a call from Whitey when he was in DC he filed a report and lied again.  On the stand he testified that he had lied all those other times.  He then said but now he was telling the truth.  Seriously, how is a jury to know this without guessing?  And if a jury is guessing can anyone say they’ve arrived at their conclusion beyond a reasonable doubt?

I mentioned Salemme.  He was the head of the New England Mafia.  He is both a murderer and convicted liar.  Connolly had arrested him in New York for blowing up a lawyer’s car.  He was tried in Middlesex County and served 16 years in jail.  When he got out, he was shot and seriously wounded by one of Connolly’s informants.  Salemme believed Connolly knew he was going to be shot and should have warned him.  Connolly told Salemme he was writing a book.  Salemme thought what Connolly wrote about him made him look like he was an informant.  Connolly played a large part in destroying the Boston Mafia which Salemme was a member of it.  Each one of these reasons gave Salemme all the incentive in the world to lie about Connolly.  Add to that the government helped him get out of jail early for testifying.  How does the government know he is telling the truth when he tells it what it wants to hear?

Here’s how Salemme talked about dealing with the government.  This comes  from an official FBI report File #270A-PH-94803 filed by agents Terry and Ruane.  Salemme was locked up with another gangster I’ll call Jake who was a FBI informant.  Jake was serving time with Salemme around the time Salemme was testifying in Boston against Connolly.  Salemme gives a frightening story about the way the prosecutors were handling the case against Connolly.

Salemme told him he was lying to the prosecutors about his dealings with Connolly.  He told Jake how after the prosecutors asked him a second time if he had given Connolly money he figured out what the prosecutors wanted so he said that he had.  Salemme told Jake that in his debriefing with the federal prosecutors he related to them specific incidents.  Sometimes the prosecutors would reply “are you sure it didn’t happen like this?”  Salemme said he changed his story to match the prosecutors’ version.

He told Jake that Connolly and Bulger were ‘Irish bums’ and he hated them.  Jake said he asked Salemme how he could make things up against Connolly who had a family.  Salemme said “f… Connolly, that guy and the FBI are the enemies.”

Salemme told Jake the prosecutors said they would make sure he died in prison unless he cooperated against Connolly.  Jake said Salemme told him he had never seen people so obsessed with getting someone as the prosecutors and that they wanted Connolly more than Gotti.  They considered Connolly ‘public enemy number 1.’

There’s a lot more but you get the idea.  According to Salemme the prosecutors have a story they want to tell.  Salemme says the prosecutors recite the lines and have the gangsters recite them back and if he doesn’t he gets locked up for life.  If they did that to Salemme, did they do it to the other gangster witnesses?

Was Salemme telling his cell-mate the truth?  How do we know — that’s my point we’re guessing at all this.  It’s like when we were young kids fooling around we’d grab one of us and tell him something like: “say your mother wears Army pants.”  If he refused we’d hold him down and give him some type of punishment, usually what we called the Indian burn, until he would say what we wanted him to say.  Telling Salemme he’ll serve life in prison if he doesn’t tell the prosecution what it wants to hear comes pretty close to that.

How comfortable are you with that type of justice system?  Maybe we can do away with all of this time and expense with trials and juries when it comes to gangster trials.  We can just flip a coin. “heads innocent, tails guilty.”

15 thoughts on “Searching For The Truth From a Gaggle of Gangsters Is An Impossible Task

  1. I agree with everything you’ve written, except one thing: Corroboration. Weeks testified Connolly tipped him off that an indictment was coming down inside a walk-in beer freezer. 1. It was just him and Connolly there. 2. Theresa Stanley, who everyone believes, said the first that she and Bulger heard about an indictment coming down was on the radio when they were driving back from New York to Boston. So, she contradicts Weeks’ account. 3. Moreover, the jury rejected Salemme’s tale that he and Flemmi were tipped off by Connolly or by Bulger via Connolly about the indictment. 4. As I understand it, a grand jury was convened in Worcester and perhaps a dozen or two dozen people from South Boston were brought to testify before that Grand Jury. So, add in the court officers and other court personnel, and you might reasonably conclude that there were many sources who could have tipped people off that an indictment was coming down. Finally, if Connolly, five years retired from the FBI heard on the street or throught the grapevine, or from a current FBI person that an indictment was coming down, it was the leaker, not Connolly who committed the crime if he passed it along, which I doubt. My point is narrow: Weeks testimony was contradicted and not corroborated, and Salemme’s attempt to corroborate it by telling the same tale was rejected by the jury. I also note in passing that if it was Weeks who testified Connolly was using him as a gopher to secretly tell Flemmi to lie, then the only possible corroboration of that was Weeks and Flemmi. As you point out, Flemmi didn’t testify in 2002. Weeks’ words, like Morris’ words, are suspect from the get go, and by and large are not corroborated. Corroboration existed for these charges: 1. lying to an FBI agent about whether he’d called an attorney’s office; 2.the letter he mailed to Judge Wolf.

    1. The corroboration is that Bulger was in Southie around the time that Weeks said the meeting took place and was in New Orleans on the 26th. In court Theresa Stanley did not come across as a believable witness. She testified she and Whitey planned to stay in the Boston area over Christmas and suddenly they left the area. She confirmed the meeting with Weeks and Whitey in Boston outside the store just before they left. She also said that after they left they stayed in New York before going to New Orleans. She said they first heard of Flemmi being arrested when they were coming back to Boston on January 5. The indictments did not come down until January 10. The jury did convict Connolly of telling Salemme, Whitey and Stevie to flee. They did not reject Salemme’s tale which by the way at the trial was that he was tipped off by Flemmi who Weeks said had his own source. The date of the indictment being returned was known to few people. It was a decision the US Attorney would make. He told the FBI it was going to come down on the 10th on December 22. The date of the indictment turned out to be immaterial because the warrants issued on the 5th. I cannot agree with you that there was no corroboration. By the way Weeks never said Connolly told him the January 10, he said Connolly said “after the holidays.”
      The corroboration of Weeks being a gopher was by many people. The jail records at Plmouth showing the visits. The telephone toll records. Connolly’s secretary that a person from South Boston used to call Connolly and say his name was Chico. He was one of four persons Connolly want to be notified right away that Chico called. Weeks brother who said Connolly would call him and ask him to have Chico call him. He would then call Weeks and say “Your girlfriend called.” There was plenty of corroboration for that including the meetings at the Top of the Hub restaurant and the appearance of the Boston Police stationery in Connolly’s files that Weeks said he got for Connolly.
      When you read my book “Don’t Embarrass The Family” you’ll have a better feel for the corroboration.

  2. Shelley Murphy’s Globe Article the day after Connolly was convicted stated that the jury voted “not quilty” on the Salemme-Flemmi count that Connolly tipped them off to flee. Guilty for tipping Weeks off. Not guilty for tipping off Flemmi and Saleme. Was Shelley Murphy wrong. If he was, then Connolly was convicted on six of fourteen counts, not five of fourteen counts as everyone has reported. There may be corroboration that Connolly was in contact with Weeks at times after he retired. But what corroboration was there for Weeks’ story that Connolly told Flemmi to lie? It that’s going to be in your book, I look forward to reading it.

  3. Whatever the precise timelines, it was Stanley’s testimony, as reported in the press, that the first time she or Bulger heard an indictmen “was coming down” was when they were driving back from New York. She said that Bulger and she then turned their car around and headed back to New York. As I understand it, Bulger dropped her off, then headed back to Boston to pick up Ms. Grieg at Malibu Beach. Bulger was not “on the run” before Stantley and he heard the radio story. Bulger was “on the run” after the radio story. I’m confused: are you saying Flemmi was arrested before the indictment came down? And Bulger fled when he heard on the radio with Stanley that Flemmi was arrested?

    1. Stanley and Bulger spent from December 26 through New Year’s Eve in New Orleans. They went there after Whitey received some news and changed his plans to be in Boston over the holidays. Driving back on January 5 when they were in Connecticut according to Stanley they heard Stevie Flemmi was arrested. They then turned around. Weeks also reached out for Whitey and beeped him about the information after that. The indictments did not come down until January 10. Flemmi told Salemme on January 5 that the indictments were coming down on the tenth. When Salemme heard that he immediately took off, first going to Venetzia Restaurant and then down to Providence. When he was in Providence his wife called him and said the house was surrounded by cops. He then went to Florida. Flemmi thought the government would be looking for him around the January 10 when the indictments were coming down. He stayed around to do some stuff at his restaurant that day and was arrested because the government did not wait for the indictments to get warrants but got them based on complaints.
      Bulger was on the run since before Christmas — when the indictments did not come down after the holidays he was coming back. It was several weeks later before he arranged with Weeks to swap Stanley for Greig.

  4. AFter a good night’s sleep, I have cleared up my confusion. I can answer my own question by saying that Stanley and Bulger simultaneously heard on the radio that both Flemmi was arreted and indictments “had come down.” We can disagree on Stanley’s credibility. She recently passed away and her reputation in her community is reportedly sterling. A mother of four, she was Bulger’s girlfriend for 20 years, but stated she knew nothing of his criminal activites and he told her nothing about them. She’s never been accused of any crime, as far as I know. I’ll take her credibility over Weeks’ anyday. Not being argumentative, just trying to get things clear in my own mind. I hope I’m always receptive to opposing views. Viewpoints differ. One last point: Connolly was convicted of five of fourteen counts. If you re-check the nine counts he was acquitted of, you’ll see my previous point, which I won’t re-argue.

    1. She could not have heard indictments had come down since they did not come down until five days later. I’m not saying Stanley was lying I’m saying her testimony was confusing. She had herself and Whitey leaving Boston around the 23rd, staying in New York for three days, and then driving to New Orleans which contradicted the hotel records. She was a reluctant witness and was telling as little as possible while trying to keep the feds from indicting her for perjury. I think she was his girlfriend for 30 years.
      Connolly was convicted of five of fourteen counts in the RICO indictment: bribing Morris, Telling Bulger the indictments were coming down, telling Flemmi the indictments were coming down, sending the anonymous letter to Wolf, and causing Flemmi to lie before Judge Wolf.
      He was also convicted of four other substantive charges: making false statements to an FBI agent, obstruction of justice by telling of the planned indictment, obstruction of justice by telling Flemmi to testify falsely, and obstruction of justice by sending the letter to the judge.

  5. I’m not going to review my notes or reread what I’ve written in other fora. Bulger was convicted of five of fourteenn counts: the fourteen counts sounded under RICO (racketerring counts) and Obstruction of Justice Counts; the letter to the judge and lying to an FBI agent were the Obstruction counts he was convicted of; the alleged racketering counts were giving a case of wine with an envelope in it to his boss Morris; telling Weeks in a walk-in beer closet that an indictment was coming down against Bulger; and telling Flemmi to lie under oath in 1998. He was acquitted of telling Salemme and Flemmi an indictement was coming down; that latter count sounded under RICO. So under RICO, he was acquitted of saying an idictment was coming down, but under an Obstruction of Justice count, he was convicted of telling Weeks and indictment was coming down.
    Your rendition of events has Connolly convicted of nine of at least 18 counts brought against him. I think you’re double counting. Maybe I’m undercounting. To settle this, I’d like to hear you state what the 9 RICO counts were that Connolly was acquitted of, and whether you know of any other counts sounding in obstruction that he was convicted of? Are you aware that your rendition conflicts with the Boston Globe’s Front Page articles that appeared the day after Connolly was convicted?

  6. Technically, we both may be wrong. Here’s what the Court of Appeals said about Connolly’s conviction: “At the conclusion of a three week trial, a federal jury found former Federal Bureau of Investigation (“FBI”) agent John J. Connolly, Jr., guilty of one count of racketeering under the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (“RICO”), 18 U.S.C. § 1962(c), two counts of obstruction of justice, 18 U.S.C. § 1503, and one count of making false statements, 18 U.S.C. § 1001t.” John was convicted of “racketeering” because of the two “predicate acts” I cited above. The other three counts make five. Two plus three is five. Connolly was acquitted of giving Morris about $2000 and $5000 on two separate occasions—allegations Morriss made which the jury rejected—as I recall the Globe’s article. It would be easier if we agreed on the five specific acts that he was convicted of, and the nine specific acts he WAS ACQUITTED OF, rather than debating whether they sounded under RICO or some other chapter of the U.S. Code, or under multiple chapters and sections of the code. Don’t blame me! I’m just bouncing around ideas!

    1. I wrote that: “Connolly was convicted of five of fourteen counts in the RICO indictment: bribing Morris, Telling Bulger the indictments were coming down, telling Flemmi the indictments were coming down, sending the anonymous letter to Wolf, and causing Flemmi to lie before Judge Wolf.
      He was also convicted of four other substantive charges: making false statements to an FBI agent, obstruction of justice by telling of the planned indictment, obstruction of justice by telling Flemmi to testify falsely, and obstruction of justice by sending the letter to the judge.”

      I was wrong in the latter aspect. He was not convicted in the substantive charge of telling of the planned indictment. That aspect as covered under the RICO indictment was found as proven. I guess the jury believed that he did it but did not want to convict him twice of the same act even though it did with respect to other acts.

      So of the five substantive charges: RICO, Lying To FBI Agent, Sending Letter to Court, Telling Flemmi to Testify Falsely, and Telling Whitey and Flemmi to flee, he was convicted of first four but acquitted of the last charge. But as an underlying act in the RICO indictment the jury found the government proved that he told Flemmi and Bulger to flee among four other charges. But three of the substantive charges he was found guilty of were also predicate offenses to the RICO charge.

  7. To skip the legal mumbo jumbo, let me state the five and only five acts Connolly was convicted of: (1) giving a case of wine with an envelope in it to his boss, John Morris; the wine and envelope came from Bulger; 2) telling Weeks an indictment was coming down; (3) lying to the FBI about whether he’d telephoned a lawyers’ office; (4) telling Flemmi to lie on the witness stand in 1998-99; and (5) sending an anonymous letter on Boston Police Stationary to Judge Wolf. That’s it! For number 1 and number 2, he’s labelled “a racketeer”; for numbers 4 and 5, he’s condemned as “obstructing justice”; for number 3, he’s convicted under a separate chapter and section of the criminal code. So, there are five, just five, “acts” which he was convicted of. And only one of those acts occured while he was an employee of the Federal government. What went on in the jury’s mind, I don’t know. What they did, I do know. It’s a matter of public record. I think you may be arguing a technical point that some of these acts may sound under RICO and obstruction. But there were only five acts, to the best of my informed knowledge.

    1. I don’t know what your point is? Connolly has served his federal time. Some say his sentence was harsh but that’s of no moment now. It seems to me if you want to help Connolly it doesn’t do any good to keep complaining about something that has passed. I read that it was argued in the Court of Appeals that the sentence was overly harsh because Judge Tauro used as an underlying offense “first degree murder.” Apparently Tauro believed Connolly had an involvement in the murders of Halloran and Callahan even though the jury found otherwise. I assume under the federal system that is proper because the Court of Appeals upheld his actions in doing that. If you are trying to suggest that somehow Tauro was not on the level I reject that. Making tenuous and highly conjectural connections between him and others doesn’t hold water. It takes away from anything of substance you may have.

  8. A couple of things. You can be “on the level” and still be biased. I’ve written elsewhere that Tauro ptentially had both personal and political latent biases against Connnolly and perhaps others. I’ve previously written that I thought he should have recused himself. If I can see apparent biases, direct and indirect, and if the rule is “avoid the appearance of impropriety”, then he too should have been cognizant of it. As you’ve said, John Connolly never complained about Tauro. I too recognize Tauro as an excellent and honorable judge, who nevertheless should have recused himself. His harsh sentencing and written rulings evidence bias, in my mind. He should have stuck to the Constitution and recognized that John Connolly was acquitted by a jury of his peers in Boston of leaking any information that led to anyone’s murders. John Connolly was acquitted of murder-related charges in Boston. Now, as I’ve previously said, there is a bizarre unconstitutional interpretation of the “innocent until proven guilty” rule in the Federal judicial system. I’ve read somewhere that in considering “sentencing” a judge can consider all the counts brought against a person, even those who was acquitted of. All this proves is, as I’ve written and said before, the US Constitution is being interpreted out of existence. Narrowing the focus to what happened in Florida, and the perversion and inversion of Double Jeopardy jurisprudence by Wyshak misses the big picture and obscures the fundamental facts and truth that led to Florida: The Justice Department and federal judiciary are acting “without lawful authority” and violation of both the spirit and letter of the law in many instances. In my humble informed opinion based on a lifetime of education and experince.

    1. You should re-examine your basis for claiming Tauro should have recused himself. You might as well claim that because my son clerked for Tauro and I was Delahunt’s deputy that Tauro should have recused himself. I suggest the basis you assert contains a lot of leaps in logic and really does not hold water. No judge in America would recuse himself based on such a flimsy connection.
      I would note that Connolly did not raise the issue that Judge Tauro recuse himself prior to trial or anytime during trial or after trial. I would also note Connolly did not appeal his convictions for lying to an FBI agent and for obstruction of justice. Why you would be suggesting this escapes me especially when the person affected does not claim it and you have no real facts beyond conjecture to support it. Connolly accepted he was properly found guilty of three charges. His claims of innocence of all the charges rings really hollow.
      As to the harshness of the sentence, as I read the Court of Appeals decision, the number that Judge Tauro used was squarely in line with the findings of the probation department that uses an elaborate system to determine the appropriate sentence. So I was wrong when I suggested Judge Tauro may have sentenced Connolly because of his attempt to undermine Judge Wolf’s hearing or that he may have believed Connolly had something to do with the murders. Judge Tauro played it straight down the line. He had to choose between 97 to 121 months and he choose the 121 months.
      I suggest it is time to stop talking about the federal case in Boston somehow being inappropriate especially since the time has been served.

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