The FBI’s Desperate Gambit

A Missing Gardner Art Work "La Sortie de Pesage"
A Missing Gardner Art Work “La Sortie de Pesage”

Yesterday iI wrote about Kevin Cullen’s column which mentioned Mark Rossetti. Although he talked about Rossetti, his column mainly concerned the Gardner Museum heist. I suppose in a contest it’d be a close call as to who is more infamous, Whitey Bulger or those who stole the highly valuable art works from the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum.

I’m sure everyone has heard and is relieved to know the FBI has identified the thieves who committed the Gardner Museum Robbery. What is a little disconcerting is it says it would be imprudent to tell us who they are. I don’t get it. The thieves know who they are, if they are still alive. Wouldn’t it make sense to publicly identify them and wait to see if there’s some feed back in information from the public about them?

It is strange coincidence that around the same time the Boston FBI office was telling us it knew who broke into the Gardner Museum a US Senator called  that office “out of control.”  There’s no doubt this office has a credibility problem. Any regular reader of this blog knows this.

There’s also little doubt that what the FBI is doing would not have worked for any of us in school. Although, I have to admit I never tried it. If only I’d have had the guts to say to the teacher, “Ma’am I know the answer but it’d be imprudent for me to tell you. So just give me an A.”

The FBI has one true believer. It is Kevin Cullen in the Boston Globe, who relies on the FBI sources for scoops. Cullen writes, “the feds think the art heist was pulled off by a combination of wiseguys from Boston and Philadelphia. Makes sense to me.”  Cullen supports his belief by pointing out that gangsters in Boston knew gangsters in Philadelphia.

I happen to think the FBI is blowing a lot of smoke. If it knew who committed the robbery there is no reason not to tell. I’m cynical not so much because the FBI, like the gangsters, treats truth like an overcoat to be used only when necessary. It’s because as Joe Friday would say, “the facts don’t add up.”

According to the official FBI press release FBI Special Agent in Charge Richard DesLauriers said “[w]e have identified the thieves . . .” It goes on to say  that Special Agent Geoffrey Kelly “is the lead investigator in the case and a member of the Art Crime Team. 

You have to believe that if the FBI identified these two guys who stole the art work  (if it were only two) it would know a lot about them like their background, their habits, their education, their friends, and so on. That seems not to be the case. From my reading of this article, the FBI is still wandering around in the dark looking for a candle.

FBI Agent Geoffrey Kelly said that because the painting were sliced out of the frame “that’s indicative of a rank amateur when it comes to art theft.How does that square with knowing the identity of the thieves? If you know who the thieves are, you know whether they are amateurs or not.

Kelley also said about two of the thieves. “They were clever in how they got into the museum, but the working profile points to inexperienced art thieves.”  It seems to me if you know who they are you don’t have a “working profile.” You know what their experience is.

Kelly goes on to say, according to the article, “it’s highly probable the thieves had no idea of the magnitude of their crime until they woke up the next morning and realized they had committed the “heist of the century.” If the FBI knew the identity of the thieves, it should know what they would have expected from the robbery. Kelly went on to say that when they found out what they had done, they must have figured it was best to “wait until the head dies down” before they tried to sell them.

Everything Kelly the guy in charge of the investigation has said points to the FBI having no idea of who committed the robbery. It would be prudent, if that is the case, not to disclose the identities of people whose identities it does not know.

Here’s what is going on. The FBI in 2011 did a big publicity push on Whitey and ended up capturing him. It reasons that if that worked, why not do the same with the Garner heist. The only thing the FBI has not figured into the equation is that the Gardner robbers were real professionals, Whitey, in truth, was an amateur.

Cutting the painting from the frame does not point to “rank amateurs” but clever professionals who could not tell when they cased the joint whether the frames were alarmed so they couldn’t chance taking them off the wall. Kelly notes how they took the surveillance tape and a print out of a motion detector which he said gave them “a comfort level that really would establish they had they had some type of knowledge about how the security protocols were conducted at the museum.”  Amateurs don’ do that, professionals do.

It’ll be a least another 23 years before the truth will come out if the FBI doesn’t accept this was a professional job aimed at specific art works for which there already existed a buyer done after much planning and preparation. It wasn’t done by a brace of stumblebums hoping to make a score and waking up surprised to discover the magnitude of their heist.


11 replies on “The FBI’s Desperate Gambit”

  1. Matt, it gets more surreal, something out of Kafka or Dickens. When I testified in Miami at John Connolly’s post-trial “sentencing” hearing, I was sworn in and testified under oath before the trial judge (whom Dickens, Kafka or Dali would have portrayed as Judge Bumblebly) and then several FBI agents and a Kansas City Detective testified on John Connolly’s behalf as previously did Judge Harrington and other distinguished character witnesses during John’s trial. At the post-trial hearing, John Connolly was sworn in and allowed to make a statement and he made a long statement, saying first and foremost to Mrs. Callahan that he had nothing to do with her husband’s murder and he never knowingly did or said anything that could cause anyone’s death. The Judge (Stumblebus) then said, “Does the State wish to ask any questions of the witness?” And lo and behold who stood up? Federal Prosecutor Fred Wyshak and Wshak attack and cross-examined John Connolly. It was a five-minute round of heavy hitting and at the end of the exchanges and body blows, Wyshak looked the badly beaten man and Connolly was still standing tall. It was during that cross examination that Connolly in a crisp, crystal clear, authentic, entirely convincing voice denied all of Wyshak’s allegations. John said,”I never took a dime.” I got the impression from the six-foot-four inch Wyshak that he was a bullyboy; the expression that leapt into my mind then was “a sissified sadist.” I think I know what happened in his past: the big hulking six-foot-four bully ran into a smaller . . . type, and Wyshak got the day lights beat out of him by the smaller, tougher man: the bigger they are, the harder they fall. Bullies beaten become chastened sometimes and sometimes they turn into physical or intellectual sadists. . . . My lifelong friend Bill Coyne asked the astute question outside Bill McDermott’s funeral, words to this effect, “Is it Congress’s fault or the Agencies’ (DOJ, FBI)? . . . We answered Bill Coyne thusly, “It’s both!” Congress and the Agencies need fixing and Congress needs to pass laws to reign in our law enforcement agencies, . . .

    1. Bill:
      I did not know a defendant would be sworn in to give a statement. That surprises me. I knew there was a confrontation between Wyshak and Connolly buit I thought Connolly wa standing at counsel table when it occurred and not on the stand. I saw a video of that some where.Nothing will be done without Congress.

  2. I thought Flemmi was M.I.A. from the B.O.P……a final kiss from the D.O.J. ???????????

    1. Rather:
      Good point. On the BOP site it says: 1. STEPHEN J FLEMMI 20431-038 78-White-M UNKNOWN NOT IN BOP CUSTODY

      He’s certainly not in a BOP prison.

      Here’s one who is: 1. CATHERINE E GREIG 57820-112 61-White-F 06-10-2018 WASECA FCI

      Flemmi is supposed to be in prison for life. He’s not there. He’s in somebody’s custody, I hope, but who knows where.

      Here’s Whitey’s listing: 2. JAMES J BULGER 02182-748 83-White-M UNKNOWN NOT IN BOP CUSTODY

      He hasn’t been sentenced so he wouldn’t be in BOP custody. All I can figure is DOJ has Flemmi in some sweet location giving him the best of everything even though he is possibly the evilest man on the East Coast. It pays to be a big rat.

  3. Matt,

    The evidence you present here satisfies me to a moral certainty that the FBI story about the Gardner thieves is completely phony. The FBI story is insulting to the public.

    Note that an FBI agent in Philadelphia who specializes in stolen art was surprised by the Boston FBI’s report that the art was offered for sale in Philly just ten years ago. He had heard nothing about it.

    Keep up the great work!


    1. I (almost) expect the Gardner art to be recovered soon. As ridiculously phony and insulting-to-the-intelligence as the feds story is (again), they’re probably just setting the stage for a triumphant recovery and it’s gonna be a helluva show. Be sure to tune in! Just like when they where ready (ordered by Sec Clinton) to bring Whitey home from retirement, ‘hey wink wink, let’s try a media campaign for some Whitey tips.’ And then, hey look, we found Whitey! Thanks Ms. New Zealand. If anything, the feds are definitely consistent.

      1. Kid:
        You could be right. I’d be glad to get egg on my face if the museum got back its art works. But until they do I think the FBI is spinning its silly story about the East Coast gang — it’s good to make it broad enough so that if you ever find the people you can find they associated with someone somewhere on the East Coast. Remember Tom Mashberg of the Herald who hooked up with some gangster who took him to a warehouse and gave him scrapings from the Rembrandt painting and it turned out to be a big hoax. What’s going on the FBI agents are listening to every gangster who wants to make a deal for himself.

    2. Patty:
      That’s the best I could come up with. But who knows with the FBI other than it is never leveling with us. Maybe they already have the art work in the trunk of the SAC’s car and that announcement was just a warm-up for the big discovery.

  4. My questions are a bit off topic but this is all new to me. Am I understanding all of this correctly? The mobsters who admitted and bragged about killing over ten people receive less than 8 years in prison, Sal DiMasi gets 8 for corruption, and John Connolly gets ten years in Federal prison and 40 in State prison?

    Is Mr Connolly being protected in prison since he was a former FBI agent? I’ve heard Federal prison is referred to as “Club Fed” for some reason but Connolly is now in State prison? Won’t they kill him in there?

    Do most hardcore mobsters get Federal Prison or “Club Fed”. Why do they refer to it as such?

    1. Question:
      Martorano who murdered over 20 got 12 years; Weeks who admitted participating in five got six years; DiMasi got 8, Whitey Bulger’s girlfriend got 8, most of the recent New England Mafia bosses got 5 to 7, and Connolly has wrapped up a 10 year federal sentence and is in the beginning days of a 40 year sentence. The sentences to say the least have been extremely odd.
      The last I heard Connolly is in a cell by himself and is not in general population. I could be wrong but you are right that if he were in with the crowd his life may be not worth more than a few pennies.
      Club Fed is a group of federal prisons where doing time is easy. It’s like being on a single sex college campus with little restriction on the inmates other than that they can’t leave. If you have to do time, that’s where you want to do it. There’s one in Florida next door to a big Air Force base and the prisoners are allowed at times to go to that base while they enjoy the good weather and the best of meals. Martorano did his time there. Flemmi is now in a Club Fed type prison. Most hardened mobsters like Gotti and Whitey when he was a young man in for robbery end up in tough prisons like ADX in Colorado where the worst of the prisoners are kept in cells with no contact with the outside world or others. The federal system goes from extremely light lockups — Bernie Madoff the man who stole billions is in an easy one near his home where they serve kosher meals; to extremely tough ones. Club feds are the easy ones.

  5. I had just posted a comment this morning just prior to your posted story today at yesterday’s story regarding issues surrounding the Gardner.

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