The FBI’s Dirty Secret – It is Still Empowering and Protecting Murderers.

I was rereading Deadly Alliance by Ralph Ranalli – sub titled “The  shocking true story of the FBI’s Thirty-Year Bargain With Evil” – that bargain was the creation of the Top Echelon Informant program. Ranalli quoted Former FBI Agent John Connolly who described it as: “You have to understand the business that I was in. I was in the murder and mayhem business. When I was developing a Top Echelon Informant, by the very definition of the program, I was developing a murderer. Do I know what murders they committed? You suspect. But it was never confirmed, and you never discussed it with those guys.”

Earlier he stated, “Agents of the FBI had the authority to allow their informants to participate in criminal activity. I did my job that I was told and authorized to do by my superiors. These were priorities that were set on Pennsylvania Avenue by the Department of Justice and the FBI.”

Ranalli leads up to those quotes by showing that is exactly how the program operated. It was a secret program created by J. Edgar Hoover which cut to its essence authorized FBI agents to enter into long term relationships with gangsters who were highly placed in gangster organizations and to turn a blind eye (as Connolly indicated above) to their crimes including murder in exchange for information they may supply the agent relative to the organization. Even in cases where they did not turn a blind eye but where they knew their high placed informant had murdered someone, the FBI made the decision whether the information it received was more important than terminating the relationship with the criminal gangster.

Ranalli ends his book which was published in 2001 telling us of all the changes that have been instituted by the Department of Justice and the FBI to change its Top Echelon Informant program to avoid future situations where it was protecting murderers. The real change from what I can see was changing the name to ”High Level Confidential Informant.”  

Ranalli tells how now an official from the FBI and two lawyers from the Department of Justice were to approve any high level informant. They would be reviewed every six years. They also, among other things, expressly forbid agents from sharing information with their source.

What Ranalli seemed to miss is that there already existed sufficient rules and regulations that set out how the FBI agents should act dealing with informants. They were ignored. Ranalli does indicate that these new rules that “more tightly govern the FBI’s use of dangerous criminals as informants” may have the same effect as the prior rules by noting they ”still depend on human beings to honestly enforce them.”

The FBI being the FBI seemed to lack those type of folk interested in honestly following the rules. Ten years after Ranalli’s book we learned there was another Top Level FBI informant named Mark Rossetti. He was suspected of being involved in at least six murders. He was charged with ”overseeing a sprawling enterprise involved in heroin and marijuana trafficking, home invasions, gambling, and loan sharking.” 

There were 44 conversations intercepted between Rossetti and his FBI handler over a 4 month period. In one of the conversations the FBI agent said  “my job is to keep you anonymous and keep you safe.’’ He also said: “You don’t have anything to worry about if things down the road happen, but if that happens, we’ll have to deal with it as it comes. I will have to start working it out.’’ Rossetti said he believed he would be protected by the FBI after he realized he was being targeted by State Police. 

Over a decade ago the FBI joined in the prosecution of an agent who did what it set him up to do. It called the agent a rogue agent. It told us it would never again have relationships like it had with Whitey Bulger and Steve Flemmi. We learned that within a decade it was back doing the same thing. There is no reason to believe it has not continued doing it. How do we protect ourselves when our protectors do not follow the rules?

8 thoughts on “The FBI’s Dirty Secret – It is Still Empowering and Protecting Murderers.

  1. Matt
    As you already know I post material
    and here
    on a daily basis dealing
    with crimes committed by FBI agents.

    My primary goal is to turn voters and taxpayers into
    smart criminal justice consumers.

    I suspect history will judge the size of your nut sack
    by your refusal to look at the involvement of FBI agents
    in assassinating President Kennedy, Martin Luther King,
    and Robert Kennedy.

    In other news

    Anthrax Mailings Cover-up by Robert Mueller’s FBI and Justice Department

    1. MS:

      Yes, J. Edgar Hoover’s decision prior to any type of investigation into the JFK assassination to put the blame solely on Oswald was disturbing. It is also true he hated ML King and Bobby Kennedy. I do not jump from that into the idea the FBI had an involvement in their murders as some do.

      I only deal with the FBI in relation to what I know and my experience with it. I’m sure, as you point out, some of its agents are not the brightest and others are criminals themselves. I also have trouble with its refusal to explain certain things because they are “under investigation” and the secrecy with which it operates. Like with the Top Echelon Criminal Program which it said it abandoned only to find out later it did not do it.

      It is good you seek to alert the taxpayer and voter more informed citizens about our criminal justice system. But some of the ideas put out by some of the people you turn to as assistants in your project seem to be far fetched. But keep up the unrequited work.

  2. I have realized that I made a mistake in regards to question 1 posted above because I think that you mentioned that St. Laurent’s contact to an law enforcement agency was a major in the Rhode State Island Police on your other blog. I apologize for the error Matt.

  3. Thanks for your latest article on your blog Matt.

    1. For organized crime figures such as Whitey, Stevie, John Bologna, St Laurent and Mercurio would you say that they would welcome a FBI agent promising to protect them?

    2. What do you make of this quote from p.101 of the book Rifleman:
    “Flemmi speculated that Rhode Island LCN member Louis Baby Shanks Manocchio had been the individual who gave up the information that led to Salemme’s arrest. Manocchio had been staying with Salemme at his New York apartment and is ______” (redacted…is an informant maybe is what is redacted” While I do recognize that there is little or no loyalty between mafia members, but if the story is true about Louis being an informant at one point: wouldn’t Salemme have used it as one of the reasons to become a government witness rather than offering lies about Whitey to Wyshak and Durham?

    3. Did the Martorano brothers have connections to the LCN through their father?

    4. What is your understanding of the Pappas murder that Halloran and Jackie Salemme was present at?

    1. David:

      1. Wouldn’t any organized crime figure welcome an FBI agent promising to protect them. Recall the FBI agent telling Mark Rossetti the Mafia capo that “my job is to keep you safe.” Unfortunately the FBI is still keeping murderers safe.

      2. I do not believe anything Flemmi said. The prosecutors told the Court of Appeals not to believe him then later used him as a witness. Flemmi was the guy who gave up the information that led to Salemme’s arrest. Didn’t he out of the blue tell Salemme he was leaving New York without telling him why. An educated guess would be that he gave up Salemme’s location to his FBI handlers and they (Condon or Rico) told him to take off. They then arranged for Connolly to grab him.

      If Manocchio had been an informant I don’t see how that would make Salemme become a government informant. He knew from the Wolf hearings that Flemmi had been one so adding another guy would make no difference. Salemme would eventually come to realize Flemmi was the cause of his arrest and subsequent 16 years at Walpole prison. His telling of the meeting with Connolly at the Prudential building was supported by two witnesses who saw him there. What was not supported was that Connolly said he would tip him off if an indictment were coming down.

      3. Martorano’s father was connected to LsMattina a local Mafia guy in business. The Martorano brothers hung around with Mafia guys at the two joints owned by their father and LsMattina. I believe James Martorano did join the Mafia. John kept up relations with them.

      4. Pappas was heavily involved in in the cocaine business. He was allegedly going to testify in an upcoming case against a David Turner – see – but I don’t see where Jack Salemme or Halloran would care about the latter. Pappas showed up at the Chinese restaurant at 3:15 a.m., he ordered a steak to go, and he and Salemme and Halloran were having a friendly discussion when last seen. I would have to say that he was murdered because of a dispute over cocaine – Halloran was known as a coke head.

      It seems ironic. Halloran was indicted for Pappas’s murder as was Salemme. Halloran immediately began to look for a way out by offering up Bulger and Flemmi. Salemme kept quiet and went to trial. Salemme was convicted but his conviction was overturned. [] Halloran at that time was dead because he had decided to cooperate. If he had only waited he too would have been acquitted.

      1. How did John Connally justify the continuation of Jimmy Bulger as an informant after the top men from the North End were arrested in 1981? Was Jimmy Bulger the number 1 gangster in Boston after they went away? Do you feel that the average person in New England at that time has an understanding that Boston reported to Providence? Not the other way around even though Boston was a bigger city? The death of the legendary Raymond Patriarca in 1984 created a void in leadership that was not filled by his son in the same manner, did Jimmy Bulger exploit that? It has been written by the authors of Black Mass and Howie Carr that some people regarded John Connally as a Winter Hill gang member and yet you and so many others in law enforcement such as former FBI agents do not have that view. Why is John Connally viewed in such a different manner by so many people?

        1. Norwood:

          John Connolly was able to show that a Mafia group under Vinny Ferrara and Sonny Mercurio were intent on taking over for the Angiulos and that Whitey was able to give the FBI information on them.
          Whitey was never the number 1 gangster even when the Angiulos went away. The Mafia still was in power in its usual places. That would pretty much continue up until the days when Frank Salemme took over. Whitey’s partner, Steve Flemmi, was as much if not more feared than Whitey
          The average person in New England most likely had no interest in things Mafia. Few understood the Patriarca/Angiulo set up. Nor would the average person know much about Whitey Bulger until long after he went on his 16 year flight.
          Keep in mind Whitey was mostly a South Boston guy with an Irish background – he would have no chance of moving in on the Mafia’s business nor is there any evidence that he did. After Martorano fled and the rest of the original Winter Hill gang were killed, fled, or imprisoned in 1988 what was left of that gang was two guys, Whitey and Stevie. They eventually brought in Weeks but their whole operation was to go around to guys involved in illegal activities and intimidate into making payments to them. They stayed away from legitimate businesses, judges, unions, etc. They had no people under them like the Mafia leaders who would do hits for them. It is hard to accept the notion that the two of them consisted of a criminal gang.
          As I just noted there really was no gang that John Connolly could become a member of. But assuming Whitey/Stevie were a gang, Connolly had them as Top Echelon Informants which he was encouraged to do by the FBI. The idea behind that program is to develop a long term relationship with them and overlook their crimes in exchange for them providing information. Those who want to label him as a gang member overlook that he was doing the job the FBI wanted him to do which was, to quote another FBI handler of a top mafia guy who was an informant, “to keep them safe” which could only mean tipping them off as to other investigations directed against them including telling them who was giving information against them. Connolly is viewed differently because the motives of Carr and the Black Mass authors is not so much to deal straight out with the facts but is promoted by a desire to try to impugn the reputation of Whitey’s brother because they knew he had a relationship to Connolly.

Comments are closed.