The Oxford Dictionary defines vendetta as: “1.1 A prolonged bitter quarrel with or campaign against someone.” Merriam-Webster defined it as: “an often prolonged series of retaliatory, vengeful, or hostile acts or exchange of such acts.”
The late James Bulger better known as Whitey complained more than once that the DA’s office where I worked had a vendetta against him according to filings made in his informant files by his handler FBI Agent John Connolly. We didn’t. We were using court ordered electronic surveillance to try to gather evidence against people involved in organized crime activities. His organization was targeted as were others. We were doing our jobs without any animus toward our targets. When we gained the evidence we charged the individual and if proven we recommended a sentence and let the court impose the punishment.
That is how I understood the system should work. Our personal feelings or biases should be put aside. We were not representing ourselves but the people of the Commonwealth. They established the law; our job was to enforce it in an even-handed way. We were not to be avenging crusaders.
Unfortunately when it came to Whitey Bulger not all prosecutors felt that way. Some actually had a vendetta against him These were the federal prosecutors who engaged in a “prolonged series of retaliatory, vengeful, or hostile acts” against him and his associates.
The lead prosecutor is Fred Wyshak. Now I believe his is a good prosecutor as well as a man of integrity. But what befuddles me about his actions is why he acted which such hostility against Whitey as if Whitey had committed a personal injury on him. He went far, far, far, beyond what is normally done in such cases.
He first had John Connolly the retired FBI agent tried. That’s fine, he had reason to try him in federal court in Boston. But did you know who Connolly lived next door to in Lynnfield? His former next-door-neighbor and brother-in-law was Arthur Gianelli.
He was a gangster. He was convicted and is incarcerated at the Fort Dix Federal Correctional Institution in New Jersey. He’s due to get out after his 22 year sentence on March 22, 2025. Nothing wrong with that I suppose even though it exceeded the sentences of all the Angiulos other than Gerry and was the same as Mafia leader Vinny “the Animal” Ferrrara.
Here’s where Wyshak shows his personal hostility. I don’t recall that any of the wives or girlfriends of these Mafia people ever were ever charged. Did I miss that? If not, wasn’t it a little unusual to charge Gianelli’s wife, Mary Ann, with 19 counts, including racketeering, money laundering and other charges involving her husband’s illegal gambling activities. Hadn’t all those other gangster wives been involved money laundering? Why just Mary Ann?
Does Wyshak have a little extra meanness in him that makes him do this against a woman? That doesn’t seem so since he only does it to those connected to Whitey/Connolly. It is that connection that brings out his blood lust in doing this extraordinary action.
Then the most egregious case of all times is the prosecution of Catherine Greig. She was Whitey’s girlfriend while he was on the run for 16 years. Her love both blinded and bound her to him She was not shown to have any involvement in his criminal activity yet she was punished as if she were. The judge in her case let Whitey’s victims come in at sentencing to yell at her as if she had murdered their love ones.
Greig is now 67 years old and has been in prison since 2011 at age 60. She went off with Whitey at age 44. She had no criminal record. The sentencing guidelines were that she should do a little more than two years. She got eight. It was the longest sentence ever imposed on a woman without a criminal record who had not engaged in violence or drugs in the history of American justice.
To top it off Wyshak dragged her back before a grand jury to ask her questions about her life with Whitey. She refused to testify. She got an additional 21 months after the judge told her he could put her in prison for life.
Federal prosecutors have great power. The federal judge who should be able to backstop their abuses seem to be witting accomplices. Wyshak clearly did to these women what no other prosecutor would deign to do. Why was it he had this vendetta? How is it that he has never been called on it?