Robert Fitzpatrick who was the assistant agent in charge (ASAC) of the Boston FBI Office was sentenced on Friday to two years probation. It seems sort of silly putting him on probation. I know he had to be sentenced so why not give him a small fine and send him on his way. The point was made. He lied about some very important things.
The judge at the sentencing hearing said: “Mr. Fitzpatrick has earned his punishment; he perhaps earned more. I don’t pretend to understand how he got into this position, but he is here; he admitted to the crime.”
That he pleaded guilty to these charges makes it easy to understand. Fitzpatrick had created a fiction as the one honest FBI man. He did this even though he betrayed his highest obligation as an FBI agent by disclosing to a newspaper reporter that Whitey Bulger was an informant. To perpetuate this fiction it became necessary for him to portray others in a false light. These others, some high-ranking FBI agents, were presented as people not interested in stopping Whitey Bulger but in empowering him. They did this even though they knew Fitzpatrick had been advocating that they no longer use him.
He wrote a book in which he pointed out that over and over how, as its subtitle said, he was “the FBI agent who fought to bring him down.” He even testified in civil hearings that he did. People wondered why his advocacy to shut down Whitey was never listened to. He pretended he was the only FBI agent who was on the level? Jurors who listened to him testify certainly felt that was the case.
The truth turned out to be that Fitzpatrick never advocated closing Whitey out. He admitted this when he pleaded guilty. Fitzpatrick had become trapped in his own lies. When called to testify at Whitey’s trial having already written about it and sworn to it he had no choice but to continue on. He had to have hoped he would suffer no consequences. Unfortunately for him these lies were not such as could be overlooked since they hurt the reputation of other people.
Initially I thought indicting Fitzpatrick was wrong. He testified as the first witness for the defense in the Whitey Bulger trial. Not having thought it through properly I believed no harm was done even if he had lied. Whitey was convicted. He was sent to prison where he will die.
I also believed that the prosecutor would not be able to prove the case. There was no way that Fitzpatrick would admit he lied about some of these things. Maybe about arresting Angiulo or finding the rifle, but the other matters were of great moment.
In his book Fitzpatrick wrote how he testified before Judge Reginald C. Lindsay in Boston’s federal court. Fitzpatrick testified Sean McWeeney who was in charge of the Organize Crime section at FBI headquarters in Washington, DC. told him Whitey Bulger and Stevie Flemmi were very valuable. He continues setting out what happened:
“[Judge Lindsay] And that these informants were sufficiently valuable that they should remain open”
[Judge Lindsay] despite your recommendation they be closed?
Judge Lindsay looked as if he’d taken as much as he could. He looked more angry than curious and I recall him actually shaking his head in disbelief”
How could Fitzpatrick plead guilty to lying not only in the Whitey Bulger case but in the civil cases he also testified in? His information in those cases was crucial to the civil findings and there was no way I thought he would admit he had been lying all along. If he did he brings into question the decisions in all those civil cases where the judge believed his testimony.
There was no way Fitzpatrick would not go down fighting. It seemed impossible for him to admit that he never advocated Whitey be closed for to do so was to taint all his testimony.
I knew he was old. I heard he was not in the best of health. I knew if he fought the charges and lost he may have ended up in prison but I thought that unlikely.
I felt the prosecutors had blundered badly in making this charge. Fitzpatrick told us he wrote a two page memorandum on exactly that point (which is missing) after his meeting with Whitey. To admit that he lied about this would undermine everything he wrote in his book and all he testified about. Nothing he said could be believed. The book was a big sham. Fitzpatrick was a fighter and he was in the fight of his life and he had to go down swinging I initially thought.