“Ludicrous,” any fair thinking person with a smidgen of knowledge of the facts and characters involved in the murder of John Callahan would respond if asked whether John Connolly had any role in his murder.
Unfortunately, there is so much false information out there by willful media people, who have duped others who relied on them and perpetuated the myths in their books, that the public has been bamboozled into believing something that is ludicrous. Was it Honest Abe who said: “you can fool all of the people some of the time?” This seems to be one of those cases.
The true facts are straight forward so let’s review them. Roger Wheeler was the president of World Jai Alai (WJA) corporation. John Callahan was CEO of WJA. He lost the job when it was discovered he was a friend of John Martorano’s Mafia brother Jimmy. Callahan sulked over that. He decided one way to get his job back was to buy WJA. He offered to buy it. He and Wheeler could not come to terms. Up to this point no one from the Winter Hill gang(Whitey Bulger, Stevie Flemmi, John Martorano) had any connection to WJA. (Some authors have wrongly written that they did.)
Upset, Callahan approached John Martorano, also his friend, a known hit man. He had been indicted for fixing races in Boston and rather than facing the charges he fled to Florida where he was hiding out. He told Martorano he would give him $50,000 if he murdered Wheeler. He believed if Martorano would do that then he could buy WJA from Wheeler’s widow. Martorano contacted another guy hiding out in Florida, Joe McDonald, another killer also associated with Winter Hill. They went off to Tulsa, Oklahoma. Martorano shot Wheeler in the face. McDonald drove the getaway car. They came back to Florida and collected their money. (Martorano would say Whitey and Stevie agreed that he should do the job and helped him by sending guns on the bus.)
Tulsa police and the Oklahoma FBI investigated the murder. It was clear it was a hit but the motive seemed to elude them. Wheeler was a legitimate business man. They then decided to focus on the one business that seemed to be out of character for Wheeler, his involvement in WJA a gaming business. They received little help from Boston FBI.
They did however learn of Callahan’s connection with the Mafia and other wise guys. They’d find out that another Winter Hill hood Brian Halloran, a friend of Callahan’s, had said that Callahan had arranged for the murder. Pushing, they asked the Boston FBI to question Callahan.
There’s a story out there that Callahan had Whitey and Stevie at his condo in Boston and Halloran was invited in to discuss the murder of Wheeler but that defies common sense. There was no reason for that since Martorano was already in the mix. Halloran, an unreliable drug user, offered that story to get himself out of a first degree murder charge he was facing in Boston. Like all wise guys Halloran knew if he got the FBI in his corner he could have that charge disappear and he could go on the FBI dole in the witness protection program. He also knew he had to throw in a couple of big time hoodlums to do that so he tossed in Whitey and Stevie.
Martorano wrote a book Hitman. He tells about twenty or so murders he committed. Many of them were done because he thought the person was going to turn state’s evidence against him or his friends. It seemed even if he smelled a rat without more he’d act. Murder to Martorano had no more effect on him than the dawn. He knew Callahan posed a danger to only one person. That was John Martorano. Seeing that the focus of the Tulsa investigation shifting toward him, he knew what he had to do. He got together with Joe McDonald and shot Callahan in the head at the Ft. Lauderdale airport. He didn’t need Connolly or anyone else to tell him anything that he did not already know.
To suggest Martorano murdered Callahan because Connolly said something is ludicrous. To suggest Martorano knew that if he went along with the Department of Justice and the FBI in its attempt to pin something on Connolly he’d be richly rewarded is not. Martorano who murdered over 20 persons by pulling a trigger or sticking a knife in them did 12 years. He is a free man. Connolly who murdered no one with his own hand has been in prison since 2002. Hard to avoid calling this a perversion of justice.