The Bum’s Rush of FBI Agent John Connolly in Federal Court: Part Three

The most salient part of the evidence FBI Agent John Connolly presented to the Court of Appeals which Judge Selya choose to ignore was the part of the statement by the inmate confidant of Frank Salemme (CS) that Salemme was given information by the prosecutors to refresh his recollection of past event. Keep in mind that Salemme was in in prison from about 1973 to 1988 which would have been most of the time that the relationship between Connolly and Whitey Bulger existed. There was little in there that could refresh his recollection but much that could go to prejudicing him and presenting him the prosecutors view of reality.

What the prosecutors provided Salemme was the book Black Mass according to the CS. Salemme told the CS there were things in the book he didn’t know prior (hardly a refreshing) and they made him want to get even with the “scum” Connolly. Black Mass was written in 2000 by two reporters who had a grudge against Billy Bulger and were abetted in their writing by two disgruntled FBI agents, John Morris and Robert Fitzpatrick. Both of the latter turning their backs on the second most important obligation of an FBI agent which is not disclosing the identity of an informant. The first being Don’t Embarrass The Family

Morris, according to Black Mass, did it to save “his own skin” with the hope that “the Mafia or someone else would assassinate the “outed” Bulger.” Fitzpatrick, who the FBI disciplined by reducing him from an assistant agent in charge down to a regular agent and refused him a pension when he left, something not mentioned in Black Mass, alleged reason was “The FBI is being compromised. . . I mean the FBI is being used.” Although it was clear that both he and Morris were motivated by an uncontrollable abhorrence of agent Connolly. Morris blamed him for his having been corrupted even though he took money from others; Fitzpatrick felt his FBI downfall was attributed in part to Connolly.

Black Mass is an interesting book setting out some of the events surrounding Whitey with accuracy and others based on pure surmise. Prosecutors using it as an instrument to prepare witnesses for trial seems somewhat over the line. The animosity it displayed toward John Connolly had to turn witnesses against him.

I’ve always been struck by the internal contradictions within it something that the authors seemed to have missed. For instance, they write: “But as they so often did, Connolly’s claims upon closer scrutiny proved to be overstated.”  Yet they begin their book telling of an alleged meeting between Connolly and Whitey at Wollaston. The authors suggest at the meeting “Connolly’s proposal was simple: inform on La Cosa Nostra and let the FBI do the rest. Bulger knew, Connolly recalled, that if we were chewing on the Mafia, it was very difficult for the Mafia to be chewing on them.”

The idea Connolly would be recruiting Whitey to get information on the Mafia in 1975 made no sense. Whitey had no information to give the FBI against the Mafia. As the authors would point out, that information all came from Stevie Flemmi. Flemmi had been an informant of the FBI since the mid-1960s. The authors would write: “Bulger blended in Flemmi” which is hard to do when someone is already blended in. They would continue by writing: “Bulger clearly recognized the value of teaming up with Flemmi, given Flemmi’s rich access to mafiosi . . . .”  

They don’t tell us why Connolly would have needed Bulger who had no “access to mafiosi” when he already had Flemmi.  Nor, do they address what I consider one of the most fundamental unknowns — how do two gangsters like Bulger and Flemmi “out” each other? If you are a top gangster and an FBI informant you just don’t “blend in” another top gangster to become an informant.

Much of Black Mass depends upon Whitey being Connolly’s informant. The only thing that proves it is Connolly’s claims, which are often overstated, and his file at the FBI office. The latter offers no proof because an informant file can be set up without a person knowing he has been designated as an informant.

That presents other matters to consider. Was Whitey not an informant? Is there any evidence that Whitey gave Connolly information that would make him an informant? Could Flemmi have been an informant without Whitey knowing? If Whitey was not an informant, why is Connolly protecting him? Could Connolly have thought Whitey was an informant and Whitey have thought he wasn’t? Unfortunately, these matters are not touched in Black Mass.

Then there’s another question, what if Black Mass is wrong in many important aspects but it is being used by the prosecutors to prepare witnesses? Are they suggesting the witness testify to things that may not be true?

Over at TTTT — A Mugwamp’s Tale –  ” We Will Weary of War As Our Real Enemies Strengthen?”

3 thoughts on “The Bum’s Rush of FBI Agent John Connolly in Federal Court: Part Three

  1. If Whitey is not an informant….why does Connolly go through all of the effort to create his TEI file and shield him from prosecution? Did he do it at the behest of Jeremiah O’Sullivan….or was he simply on the take? On a side note it makes no sense Morris would risk his entire career over $1000 and a case of wine. None of this really makes any sense when hard questions are asked.

    1. Dave:

      If Connolly were taking money from him, then it would be a good cover to have such a file. Another reason would be that it was a feather in his hat to have such a person as an informant. It was clear that Connolly and Whitey met often. Why are they meeting? There has to be some type of understanding between them. Could Whitey have been giving Connolly information without knowing that he had a file set up on him, that’s very likely. How does Whitey justifying meeting with other FBI agents who are questioning his value to the FBI if he is not an informant? Things to work through. It seems to be either Whitey was an informant or he was paying off Connolly for information.

      There is no connection between Connolly and Jeremiah O’Sullivan – Connolly was not at the level to be intimate with him as a street agent – O’Sullivan would deal with SACs or ASACs or supervisors for the most part.

      Morris risked everything because Whitey played to his low esteem. Remember Morris took 5,000 and assorted gifts from another Top Echelon Informant. Whitey gave him 5,000 for tipping off the Bahorian wiretap. Morris, having a girlfriend, a wife, and a child with health problems was having trouble meeting ends on an FBI salary. He testified as to his fondness for good wines, an expensive hobby for an FBI agent. Morris also took $1,000 to fly his girl down to Glencoe, GA. It doesn’t make sense now that he is caught, but he never expected that Flemmi would turn on him.

  2. Deeper into the swamp of perverse connections between certain players at El Globo and “Los Federales”…you know, the muddling police.

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