The FBI’s Connolly is Doing 40 Years in Prison for Following Orders

I’ve been running on about the case in Florida where John Connolly was convicted of murder by gun of John Callahan, but I don’t think I’ve ever given the facts about that case so you can decide for yourselves what his criminal liability is and what would be a fair punishment.   A Florida state jury heard just about the same evidence as jury in Boston heard.  The Boston jury acquitted him of obstruction of justice in Callahan’s death.

John Callahan was a Bain-type businessman who had a penchant for hanging around with hoodlums.  He was the president of World Jai Alai in Miami.  Jai Alai is a game where men use basket-like gloves to whip a small ball at speeds of 200 to 300 mph against walls trying to earn points.  (Google gives you a good description)  People bet fairly substantial sums on the outcome of games.  Working for John Callahan was Paul Rico a retired FBI agent who had and deserved a bad reputation for being somewhat crooked.

Roger Wheeler an astute legitimate business man out of Tulsa, Oklahoma had recently bought World Jai Alai.  It wasn’t long into his ownership that he began to realize that some of the money was being skimmed off by others.  Wheeler decided to investigate how this was happening.  Callahan who had wrongly pocketed over a million dollars figured it wouldn’t take too long for Wheeler to figure this out and he’d be prosecuted.

We heard two stories of what happened next.  FBI agent Montinari testified he had an informant named Brian Halloran.  Halloran told him that in January 1981 Callahan asked him to come to his condo.  There along with Callahan were Whitey and Stevie Flemmi.  They told him about Callahan’s troubles and asked him to kill Roger Wheeler.  He said he’d think about it.  About two weeks later Callahan called him back, gave him $20,000, and told him to forget about it.  Halloran also said that Callahan told him “Johnny did it” when he later asked about Wheeler.  Halloran was telling him this information hoping to make a deal with the FBI to get himself some help on a charge of murdering George Pappas on October 13, 1981, which was pending against him in Suffolk County.

The other story is that Callahan approached Martorano.  He told him his problem.  He said he and another guy had tried to buy the business from Wheeler by offering him up to ninety million but he turned them down.  Now fearful of getting indicted, he asked Martorano to kill Wheeler.  Former FBI agent Paul Rico would help.  Callahan figured after that Wheeler’s widow would want to sell it and he’d be off the hook.

He promised Martorano that when he got the business he’d pay Winter Hill, (the hoodlum gang that Martorano, Whitey, and Stevie Flemmi ran) $10,000 a week for protection.   Martorano agreed, told his partners in Winter Hill, got another Winter Hill hood, Joe McDonald to go along with him, and they flew to Tulsa where on May 27, 1981, Martorano put a slug into Wheeler’s head at a golf course as he climbed into his car.

It took a bit of time before the Tulsa police and the Tulsa FBI office were focusing on Callahan and Boston.  They asked the Boston FBI for help which it never got.  Whitey got wind of Halloran’s attempt to give him up to save himself from FBI agent John Connolly, his handler.  On May 11, 1982,  Whitey then gunned down Halloran on the Southie waterfront in an area we now referred to as the Seaport District.

That removed an immediate threat. Montanari (one of the good FBI agents) started focusing on Callahan after his squeal Halloran was gunned down.  He figured that he could squeeze him into spilling out the deal that led to Wheeler’s murder.

A brouhaha was raised  in the Boston FBI offices by Connolly over Montanari investigating his informants, Whitey and Stevie.  ASAC Fitzpatrick resolved it by holding a meeting among all the disputants.  He listened to each side and made a decision which he set out in a memo, “It was mutually agreed that agents actively working the Wheeler case would coordinate their information with SA Connolly’s sources so that this matter can be quickly and effectively resolved.” (my emphasis)

You read that correctly.  Montanari testified that he was astonished the he was ordered to report what he was doing to Connolly who would coordinate the investigation with Whitey and Stevie.  ASAC Fitzgerald in his wisdom ordered Connolly to keep his informants advised of any information Montinari’s was able to dig up against them.  Doing what ASAC Fitgerald ordered Connolly told them Montinari was planning to squeeze Callahan until he started talking.   Connolly did as he was told not that he wouldn’t have done it in any event.  Whitey and Stevie had probably put two and two together much earlier and recognized the real threat to them was Callahan turning state’s evidence.

They turned to the hitman Martorano, who by the way considered Callahan a friend, having received money from him and stayed in his Florida condo.  They asked him to murder Callahan.  Martorano with at least 19 other murders under his belt was happy to oblige.   Without even raising a sweat in the hot Florida sun, he got on the phone, asked Callahan to visit with him in Florida, and lined up Joe McDonald again.  Four hundred twenty seven days after murdering Wheeler, on July 31, 1982, Martorano put a bullet into another man’s head, this time it was Callahan’s at the Ft. Lauderdale airport.

I’m told there’s a memo that shows even the bosses at FBI headquarters in Washington, DC, figured out there was a connection among the Wheeler-Halloran-Callahan murders but they did nothing.  The Boston office went into a lock down mode hoping time would erase the memory of them.

To sum up, Callahan wanted Wheeler killed so he could take over his business from which he was stealing. He, Whitey and Stevie tried to hire Halloran to do it but settled upon Martorano. He plugged him.  They figured Halloran knew of their role in it so he was killed.  Connolly at the orders of ASAC Fitzpatrick told them Agent Montanari was going to squeeze Callahan to implicate them. Martorano killed him.  Martorano gets 12 years for killing Wheeler and Callahan and 18 others.  Connolly gets 40 years for telling Whitey and Stevie what he had been ordered by Fitzpatrick to tell them.

15 thoughts on “The FBI’s Connolly is Doing 40 Years in Prison for Following Orders

  1. I’ve read the pleadings and the brief on appeal. Casabielle, Connolly’s attorney in florida, raised the statute of limitations defense—judge said it was two days late—and the ineffective assistance of counsel defenses. Those defenses were raised at the end of trial. They were repeated in briefs on appeal. The Florida courts, like the Massachusetts courts before them, turned a blind eye to injustice.
    In my book, I’ve stated five grotesque violations of Connolly’s constitutional rights by Florida Courts. I’d add that Wyshak’s deliberately putting known perjurers on trial who’ve sang different songs over a period of a decade is also flagrant violation of constitutional rights. Did Wyshak believe, as he’s required to, that there was “no reasonable doubt” about the testimonies of Flemmi, Martorano, Weeks et al. What “investigation” did Wyshak do into Martorano’s and Flemmi’s killings. How many murder victims’ families did he interview?

    1. It’s hard to see Casabielle raising the ineffective assistance of counsel defense since he was the defense counsel. How does it make sense a lawyer saying “I was ineffective.” That is usually raised by other counsel who review the record.
      The Massachusetts courts automatically review all murder sentences and produce a reasoned decision. I have not found the Massachusetts appeals courts to be other that upright in their reasoning. You may not like their decisions but the concept of justice is very broad.
      I am uncomfortable with the Florida appeals court not issuing a decision in a case where a guy is sentenced to 40 years for murder. I don’t know whether that is usual or not in Florida. It seems wrong to me especially since Connolly appeared to have some good appellate issues.
      The prior statements of Wyshak’s witnesses were not hidden. They were available to defense counsel who I assume used them to impeach the witness. There are no allegations that I know of that suggest the prosecution hid anything. The jury then had to decide whether he was telling the truth or lying. Everything was done in a Constitutional way, the way things should be done. It is up to a jury to decide the facts. It is not a perversion of the Constitution if they decide one way over the other. Every loser in a trial believes somehow his Constitutional rights were violated.
      I assume Wyshak believed beyond a reasonable doubt the testimony of his witnesses as did the Florida jury. I don’t know what investigations Wyshak did. Defense counsel had the opportunity to do them since they were not hidden. I don’t think he interviewed the families of the murder victims of his witnesses. I don’t see why he would want to do that.

  2. One final thought: If Flemmi’s lawyers worked with Weeks, Flemmi and Connolly to “undermine” Wolf’s proceedings, why hasn’t the DOJ and FBI brought charges against those lawyers, or against Flemmi and Weeks for “undermining” Wolf’s proceedings? Why did they let the big fish off the hook—the big fish would have been lawyers and killers—-to frame a lowly FBI agent? Why wasn’t Cardinale and other lawyers prosecuted for suborning perjury? The answer is they believed the killers’ stories in 1998 and 1999. The answer is that the only ones lying and committing perjury were the killers and they continue to do so and the feds continue to find them “credible”. Have a good day and keep up the good work!

    1. Flemmi and Weeks were prosecution witnesses. When people cooperate they don’t get charged. I assume they could not show Flemmi’s lawyer, Fishman, who had a good reputation for being an up front and honest lawyer, had any reason to believe Connolly, Weeks and Flemmi were conspiring. Knowing Wyshak, if he did he would have charged him.
      You keep narrowing the deals the prosecutors made with the idea they were done to get Connolly who you describe as a lowly FBI agent. Follow the chronological order. The deals were initially made with Morris to rebut Flemmi’s testimony. Morris being debriefed talked about the bribes. Meanwhile Martorano flipped when he learned Flemmi and Bulger had been rats. They gave him a deal to testify against Flemmi and Bulger. Then Weeks got jammed in. He got a deal to testify against Flemmi and Bulger. Then Flemmi seeing he was on the hook for a death sentence, made a deal to get Bulger. The deals were not to get Connolly, he was a byproduct of the deals.
      There is no showing Cardinale or any other lawyer in the case suborned perjury. The worked diligently for their clients and doing so were able to bring to light what had occurred with the FBI and Bulger and Flemmi.

  3. Weeks is the guy who told tall tales about six FBI agents with machine guns doing Bulger’s bidding. You state that Connolly worked with Flemmi’s lawyers from 1995 to about 1999 with the purpose of “undermining” Wolf’s hearings. What if his purpose was to help Flemmi’s lawyers prepare a defense? Connolly, retired from the FBI for over five years, had every constitutional right in the world to contact and speak with any lawyer about anything. If and this is a big IF—if Connolly helped Flemmi’s lawyers, that’s his right. Flemmi under oath in 1999 said Connolly was an honest good cop; in 2002, Flemmi said Connolly told him to lie about whether he was a good cop; in 2006, according to Boeri, Flemmi said Connolly never did or said anything intending anyone be killed. In 2008 in Miami Flemmi sang a different tune. In the late 1990s Wolf was holding hearings; if Flemmi’s lawyers asked Connolly for info, what’s sinister about that? Even if he gave Flemmi’s lawyers details about what happened a decade earlier, what’s wrong with that? He’s retired. A private citizen! People can see the same play in football and draw different conclusions about what happened. I see Connolly as an honorable man who has been framed on the words of serial killers and their accomplices for a price: early releases, lenient sentences and avoidance of the death penalty. I see the federal prosecutors as overly zealous and corrupt and federal courts as turning a blind eye to injustice as the Mass Courts did in the St. Pat’s Day parade cases.

  4. Flemmi said Morris was the source of leaks. Morris admitted he was corrupt and leaked. Flemmi testified the deal with the FBI was “no violence”, not just no killings. Boeri reports that as late as 2006 Flwmmi in a deposition said Connolly never said or did anything that indicated he wanted anyone killed. I believe I’ve given the exact quote before. You’ll find it at the end of Chapter VII of my book. Also, Callahan and Halloran were dead men as soon as Whitey or Flemmi got any inkling they were talking. When Callahan, Halloran, Whitey and Flemmi met in a room to discuss the killing of Wheeler in Oklahoma—a death penalty state—Callahan and Halloran were dead meat. If Whitey or Flemmi had any inkling that Martorano was squealing or cooperating he too would have been dead. Here’s a test: Find out what Flemmi said exactly about Connolly in 1998-1999, find out exaclty what he said Connolly’s words were in 2002, and then find out exactly what he said Connolly’s words were in 2008 in Miami. We know this: Throughout the 1990s Martorano, who never met Connolly, never proferred any evidence that Connolly was involved in telling anyone anything. What did Martorano say about Connolly in Miami? Boeri reports and I’ve discovered that all their stories were changing, not just in the 1990s, but through 2006, at least. Perhaps you’ll read Boeri’s articles in the Boston Magazine and elsewhere, and come to differing conclusions. Since we agree we can’t believe Flemmi, why was Wyshak using him, a proven perjurer? That’s corrupt and unconsciounable, particularly when you consider Wyshak and Foley were warning Durham not to use Salemme because they said that he was a known perjurer. By the way,since I was in Miami and followed that case very closely in the newspapers, I can state without fear of contradiction that the trial judge stated in open court that the statute of limitations had run on the murder by gun conviction, that he, however, felt constrained by Florida’s rules of criminal procedure from recognizing it —-he also ignored Connolly’s lawyers’ inefffective assisance of counsel bullet-proof constitutional defense— and the trial judge also said in open court that he was confident the appeals court would readily overturn his sentence of 40 years based on the fact that the statute of limitions had run. Shelley Murphy also reported and confirmed these facts about the trial judge. Finally, as we all know, when Martorano killed Callahan in Miami, Connolly was 1500 miles away on a beach in Martha’s Vineyard on vacation, probably in a bathing suit. You are correct, no evidence was presented at trial that Connolly had a gun in his possession at the time of the killing or around the time of the killing. Wyshak argued after trial that as an FBI agent he must have had a gun in his possession. So, too did 10 million NRA members, who Wyshak could have indicted if they had any association however remote with a murder scene. I’ve also read pleadings of lawyers’ defending Connolly, and learned a lot from a website run by Connolly’s supporters for years. The website was called Justice for John. I believe its content can still be accessed, even though it’s not currently accepting comments.

    1. Justice for John Website is worthless. I’ve said before it printed five articles in the last year that were not worth reading.
      The trial judge must have been wrong in his interpretation of the law since the Appeals Court did not overrule him.
      Morris testified that he never talked to Flemmi or Whitey alone. That Flemmi and Whitey always came to their meetings in the company of Connolly. Connolly was their handler. Morris was a backup. Putting anything on Morris is a reach.
      Flemmi, Weeks and Connolly conspired to undermine the hearing before Judge Wolf. Connolly lied about being in contact with Fishman and sent a letter to Judge Wolf. What was the purpose of that if he didn’t want to help Flemmi. As part of the Flemmi/Weeks/Connolly conspiracy it was planned to put everything on Morris. Flemmi screwed up when he testified because Morris could not have known things Flemmis said he knew.
      Martorano did not cooperate until long after the events you are talking about. Flemmi was already in jail when Martorano began to cooperate and Whitey was hiding out.
      I said I couldn’t tell when Flemmi was telling the truth or not. I was not speaking for Wyshak. He may have corroboration of some of Flemmi’s stuff or he may believe him.
      I don’t think Connolly has raised the ineffective assistance of counsel defense.
      If you are interested in helping John Connolly it does little good to say Flemmi or Morris or Martorano are liars or that Halloran and Callahan were dead men when they hatched the plan. The jury listened to the evidence of the government and believed it. The facts are fixed. You have to focus on the best way to get him out of prison. That is to narrow your approach to the legal issues and a method by which you can have them heard. Whatever the judge said is part of a record — what the newspapers say he said is not. Connolly must have competent attorneys helping him in Florida. Talk to them and see what you can do. All the facts about whether Connolly did this or that are immaterial. The jury’s have made their decisions. You must find legal reasons to show that Connolly trial had error in it. That is the only way you can help him.

  5. The claim that “Whitey got wind of Halloran’s co-operation from Connolly” is totally bogus and a complete fabrication. O. C. hit men like Halloran suspected in multiple murders, who gun down Pappas in front of 10 winesses are never released on bail. The only exception is when the murderer is informing. Everyone in Boston with a high school degree knew Halloran was co-operating with some branch of law enforcement No leaks were needed in that case . Everyone knew he was on board. . You and Oliver Stone must be comparing notes. 2.If someone said that the Milton Police and the State Police told Myles Connors that ” If Webster and Spinney co-operate against Sperrazza were all in trouble” thus leading to Sperrazza( a member of the Connors bank robberey crew) killing them. Who would be culpable in their killings? Would Conner’s handlers bear any resposibility? It seems far fetched to take a gangsters claim that he killed because of the info he got from a cop. When 99.9% of gangster killings are unrelated to any leaks. The Connolly leak never happened.3. Connolly was framed mainly for political reasons. JFK was asked in 1959 what he thought about the press coverage that Nixon recieved JFK said it was “disgusting” What’s been done to Connolly, Bill Buger, Mrs. Gianelli and Ms. Grieg can only be described as disgusting. What a dishonest system we have in place.

    1. Thanks for writing. You are entitled to your opinion. There is evidence from Morris that Connolly told Whitey that Halloran was cooperating. (I’d say it also came from Weeks but I’ll have to check on that. I’m sure it was well known that Halloran was cooperating because he was wearing a wire and other FBI reports show that the word on the street was that he was wired. Callahan was ducking him. That everyone knew as you suggest does not prove Connolly did not tell Whitey. You want to believe he didn’t that’s fine. I hope you accept that Whitey was the one who killed Halloran.
      Connolly was tried because Flemmi said Connolly and Morris told him he could do anything but hit someone. Morris came forward and gave evidence contradicting Flemmi and then coughed up Connolly. The prosecutor had no choice especially considering Connolly’s actions in trying to subvert the hearings before Judge Wolf. Connolly was not framed. That he took the rap for doing what he did after he left the FBI, which the jury correctly determined based on the evidence, is not being framed.
      I’ve suggested before my issue is with the Florida matters relating to Connolly. I don’t think much is accomplished lashing out at a system that is mostly good. You point to three cases and condemn a system that has thousands upon thousands of cases every year. You know if the system were as bad as you suggest, then the feds would have indicted Billy Bulger.

  6. I don’t have time to comment on this issue as a whole, but curious as to what you, as a prosecutor think about the way the Florida statute of limitations was( in my opinion) completely ignored in regard to Johns Florida conviction. I believe the judge in Florida made a comment about it in open court. Thoughts?

    1. I don’t know enough about the issue. I hope to find out more. It’s difficult to comment not knowing the Florida law. I spoke with a judge who was bothered by her understanding of the issue with the statute of limitations but she too did not know the situation well enough to comment.
      I’m bothered more by the carrying the gun aspect of the charge. I don’t think it was ever shown Connolly had a gun on him at the time of the commission of the crime. The idea that he was an FBI agent and had to carry a gun at all times was not introduced during the trial. Even if it were, I think you can’t infer someone has a gun even though his department rules says he must. It’s a matter that has to be proven. But again, I don’t know much about Florida law.
      The little I know about what is going on in Florida I find chilling. That the Florida appeals court in a case where someone got 40 years let the lower court decision stand without a written opinion makes me think something is not right. That in itself seems to me to be a perversion of justice. I hope to learn more about these matters in time and maybe I’ll be more comfortable commenting.

  7. I don’t read that memo as “ordering” Connolly to tell everything Bulger and Flemmi, rather as ordering Connolly to coordinate “information” from his sources with others’ information. Connolly may or may not have directly told them to keep away from Callahan, who was a potential loose cannon. Any other speculation about Connolly told Flemmi and Bulger is pure conjecture. I have posted previously Flemmi’s sworn testimony—-and I’ll post it again if anyone wants to read it; David Boeri reported it, too—-that Flemmi said John Connolly never did or said anything in way that indicated he wanted Flemmi or anyone else to murder anyone. Flemmi, according to Boeri as I’ve read his reports, apparently had repeatedly stated that, while in custody for five years and appearing before a federal judge, until he changed his mind sometime before the 2002 trial. Even then, his testimony, as I understand it is that Connolly said something rather innocuous: such as, “Callahan may be a snitch.” Flemmi then imaginatively and creatively added a new phrase, “If Callahan talks, we’ll all be in trouble.” Highly dubious testimony, because what trouble could Connolly possible be in if Callahan talked in 1981-82. So, I agree Connolly was following orders, but what Connolly said and did pursuant to those orders is what he’s said and done during his 23 years as an FBI agent and during his lifetime before and after: acted honorably, or at least, acted without intent to physical harm anyone. His lifelong posture, motives and actions have been to protect, help and defend people; not to hurt them! Morris, Flemmi, Bulger, Martorano’s lifelong modus operandi has been to help themselves, scam the system, and hurt people. It is Morris who proved himself capable of intending murder, when he released his informants names to the newspapers, knowing they could be or would be killed.

    1. You might understand it one way but the guy who was there, Montinari, understood it that he had to coordinate his investigation of Bulger and Flemmi through them via Connolly. I’ll go with the interpretation of the FBI agent who was told how it was going to happen and was astonished. I don’t understand your interpretation that “Connolly [was] to coordinate “information” from his sources with other information”. What information was Connolly going to get from his sources who were the targets that would be helpful?
      After his arrest on January 5, 1995 and prior to the Wolf hearings Flemmi, Connolly, Weeks, and Flemmi’s lawyer were all working together to come up with a defense for Flemmi. He’d want to put out misinformation on Connolly while he and Weeks were working with him pursuant to a plan to undermine the hearings before Judge Wolf. I don’t put much credence in what he said about anyone. Like all gangsters he’s going to tell whatever benefits him most at the time. You want to accept that he was telling the truth at one point and not the next time. I don’t believe anything he says because there is no way to tell if it is the truth.
      If Callahan talked he could have sunk Whitey and Stevie. Connolly did not want to see them going down because they were his prize informants. I’d suggest at a minimum that’s what he meant by “we’ll all be in trouble.” But again, I don’t believe Flemmi so I shouldn’t even be commenting on it.
      You mention that Morris, Flemmi, Bulger, and Martorano’s were awful people. These (except for Martorano) were the people Connolly worked with, dined with, and associated with and protected for years.
      Martorano by the way never talked with Connolly.
      How do you account for Connolly not helping Tulsa FBI when they asked for help on the Wheeler case? How do you account for him not wondering about the killing of Halloran and Callahan which even the bigwigs in DC knew were connected?

  8. If all this is true and he was ordered to tell his informants about the investigation by a supervisor then Connolly is the scapegoat as he claims. The real problem is not only the corruption at the upper levels of the FBI, Mass. State POlice and others but the complicity of the USAO and local prosecutors who know the truth but use the system to cover up more corruption. Unlawfully putting someone in prison is the new version of a gangland hit. Thats what happened to Nazzaro; he uncovered the Whitey, Matarano connection to Callahan’s murder, notified Florida law enforcement then boom he’s indicted for a crime he didn’t commit and shipped off to prison to rot. Twenty years later he cleared his name but the damage was already done. He was HIT, not by Whitey or the LCN but the supposed good guys; the FBI, his own department and the USAO who all knew it was a setup. As you mentioned with Naimovich this is ancient history and no one cares but how many Nazzarro’s Naimovich’s and Connolly’s do there have to be until the goverments upho;lds their oaths to do justice or the public cares about their real guardians against the bad guys’ cops, troopers and agents doing their jobs and paying the price for it.

    1. Thanks for writing. There is no doubt a lot of truth in what you write. It seems to me a team type mentality exists where you have one of those “you’re with us or you’re against us” mentalities. The “power”, whether a loud mouth cop, a high ranking official, a top prosecutor, makes a decision or commitment and the team assumes that must be a correct decision and follows along. I’m sure you’ve been in conversations where someone guy is spouting off some nonsense and you let it go not wanting to get into an argument or make everyone around you fell uncomfortable by telling the guy he’s an idiot. I think that happens a lot on police forces or in prosecution offices, you may not like it but you let it go and try to do your own work as well as you can..
      With Connolly it seems to me there is no way to pin everything on him – his acts were widely known throughout the FBI. The AUSAs handling the case didn’t want to push the issue beyond Connolly for some reason. Was it a directive from above saying stick it to one guy and stop? I don’t know.
      What comes to mind writing this is the Fells Acre Day Care center and how the hysteria of the time imprisoned three people who very well may have been innocent. You apparently have some sense of it with Nazzarro on how it feels when you’re standing in front of a rushing mob.

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