Yesterday I was reviewing the matters in Whitey’s case. I was struck by the reporting that came out of a hearing before Judge Bowler back in June, 2011, shortly after Whitey was arrested. We knew by that date that Whitey who grew up in St. Monica’s parish in Southie had been arrested in Santa Monica in California. His well publicized arrest included the information that he had over $800,000 seized from him. Judge Bowler was to determine if Whitey was indigent and entitled to a court appointed lawyer.
The prosecution objected saying Whitey had money hidden in some places without telling the court where. It then made the extraordinary proposal that Whitey’s brother Billy Bulger should be willing to put up the money for his defense. Rarely, if ever, will the government say a person is not indigent because his brother has money. I’ve never heard it ever suggested to any court in a hearing on an adult man’s request for counsel to be appointed that it be denied because the man’s siblings may be able to pay for his defense.
This however continues the open and ongoing attempt by the U.S Attorney’s office in Boston to suggest at every opportunity that Billy is somehow complicit in Whitey’s actions. It is an underhanded way to denigrate Billy using the publicity of Whitey’s case to take shots at him. I’m told but have not been able to track this down that one of the prosecutors when asked where FBI Agent John Connolly went wrong replied, “He got too close to the Bulgers.”
This is not new. There are more than a few people who believe that the actions of that office in going after retired FBI Agent John Connolly are motivated by the hope to implicate Billy in some wrongdoing. I had that sense attending Connolly’s Boston trial. I told John Connolly as much.
If the prosecutors have any evidence of wrongdoing on Billy’s part it should put their money where their mouth is and charge him. If not, it should cease doing harm to his reputation.
This hostile attitude by the federal government toward Billy is shown by the Congressional oversight committee hearings that lead to his resignation as president of the University of Massachusetts. The Committee issued a report entitled: “Everything Secret Degenerates: The FBI’s Use of Murderers As Informants.” The Committee was created to examine the actions of the FBI in Boston which caused four men to be sent to prison who may have been innocent. The FBI used Joe “The Animal” Barboza as its main witness and knew he was perjuring himself to cover up for his buddy Jimmy Flemmi.
That investigation of the FBI which had plodded around outside of public notice or interest suddenly switched away from an investigation into the FBI actions to inquire into the relationship between Billy and his brother Whitey. This tossed the Committee’s actions out of obscurity and into the glare of the headlines and onto the nightly television news.
A couple of days before the date for Billy to testify in December 2002, a transcript of his secret testimony before a federal grand jury held under the custody of the U.S. Attorney’s office in Boston was released to the Boston Globe . This calculated release of secret testimony was both unethical and illegal. It was designed to cause Billy humiliation. The culprit or culprits were never identified but the source was clear. Ask yourselves, is that the function of the U.S. Attorney’s office in Boston?
At that hearing, Billy took the Fifth. It had to be obvious to him that the Committee was on a witch hunt. The Committee gave him immunity to force his testimony at a subsequent hearing.
I’ll write more about that and go into each of the allegations against Billy made in the press and by Congress to determine the validity of them. But in the meantime, it’s important to note that there is a sense that the Justice Department in Boston for a long while has without publicly identifying any basis for its attitude taken unusual steps to blacken Billy’s name. The media have followed along.
The media must have a short memory. During the time that Whitey and Stevie were ravaging Boston with the help of the FBI it was continually telling us how much we should admire the wonderful FBI. I look forward to the day when the media takes a more critical look at the acts of the federal government in prosecuting people. That is the function of a free press — cheerleaders belong at sporting events.
I’ve written previously of the ludicrous encounter between and FBI agent who was the assistant agent in charge of the Boston FBI office and Billy who was then president of the Massachusetts Senate. If you are unfamiliar with the demonizing of Billy you should read that. You’ll get a good idea of what is going on.
A day or two ago I wrote that the people of Massachusetts are not a bloodthirsty people. Maybe I am wrong. Long before the Boston Massacre we had another form of justice: The Salem Witch Trials. One test that was used in those benighted days to determine if a person was guilty or innocent was to throw the person, usually a woman thought to be a witch, into a river. If the river accepted her that proved her innocence but unfortunately she had drowned; if the river rejected her then she was guilty and burned at the stake.
Billy through the accident of an evil sibling is today’s witch. I don’t suppose he is up to taking that test. If he is, I can think of a law professor who would gladly volunteer to throw him off the Harvard Bridge into the Charles.
That is the heads I win, tails you lose situation Billy finds himself in over the past several years when an arm of the Justice Department participates with the media in an assault on his reputation. Let’s try Whitey and leave Billy alone unless he too is charged with a crime.