The Repeaters Sources In What Today Is Called Journalism

IMG_4045Here’s a true story. As any of you who have followed me know that during my career as a prosecutor I did a lot of wiretaps. I did them in murder cases, organized crime cases, armed robberies, drug dealings, and anything that involved a group of people committing certain designated crimes. I used to also be responsible for overseeing the various task forces, state police, local police or a combination of them, and even with a police department no longer around, the Metropolitan police. They were morphed into the state police in one of those moves to streamline our ever-increasing police forces but most of its members were as different from state troopers as fish are from fowl.

One way we operated was our undercover cops doing drugs would try to locate the big drug dealers. The idea was to get the guys supplying the drugs, in this case I’m going to talk about it was cocaine. It was an enterprise of folly. We recognized that the drug use on the street would not stop. Someone always stepped in to fill the vacuum. It’s simple economics, wherever there is a demand a supplier will be found and the price will depend on the risk/reward formula.

But we believed it was better to at least try to do something to stop or slow down the onrush of cocaine rather than just surrendering. Also our job description made us people who enforced the laws and since distributing cocaine was illegal, we did what we were charged to do.

So here;s what happened in one investigation. The lieutenant in charge of the drug task force, I’ll call him Lt. Y, and one of the guys working in it I’ll call Sgt Mike came to my office. They told me a story which led me to believe a guy named Pete was a big cocaine dealer. Sgt Mike was working with an informant I’ll call Snitch.

I never knew the identity of these guys. I was told that Sgt Mike had been paying Snitch for information. Sgt Mike told me Snitch let him listen in on the telephone calls he made to Pete discussing the distribution of cocaine. This had been going on for a few weeks.

Sgt Mike would write down what was said between the parties. It was absolutely clear from the conversations Sgt Mike set out that Pete was a very big cocaine distributor. Snitch even produced a little cocaine he said he bought from Pete to back up the claims.

Lt. Y and Sgt Mike came to see me because in the latest conversation Pete indicated he was going to receive a huge shipment of cocaine and was getting all his dealers ready to distribute it widely through Norfolk County. They wanted to do a wire on Pete’s phone. It seemed if this were to be done we would be able to discover Pete’s whole network. I was satisfied. I did the paperwork, we secured a warrant, installed the wire, and began to listen to Pete’s calls.

I usually would go to the plant where we were doing the interceptions to oversee the operation. This time I had other things happening so early each  morning I’d get copies of the logs and tapes of the prior days activity brought to my office so I could review them. About the second or third day into the tap I saw nothing to indicate Pete was dealing. If we weren’t getting the information we expected then I had to shut the tap down.

I told Lt. Y and Sgt Mike I’d give them another day or two but unless things changed I was going to terminate the tap. They went out to see Snitch. They stood there while he called Pete to check about what was happening. We intercepted that call. (Snitch did not know we had a wire. We, unlike the FBI, never told anyone about having a wire.)

The contents of the call was as Sgt Mike reported. Pete and Snitch talked about the big bundle of cocaine that was going to arrive. Lt. Y and Sgt Mike left believing that would satisfy me and the tap would continue. But right after they left Snitch alone (you’ll understand why you never tell a person like Whitey or Flemmi you are doing a wire or planting a bug), Snitch got back on the phone and called Pete.

They had a big laugh. It seemed that every time Snitch made a call to Pete Sgt Mike would duke him some cash. This intercepted call told us that Pete was helping Snitch make a little extra cash and that Pete had nothing to do with cocaine. It was all talk and lies. Snitch with the help of Pete was scamming Sgt Mike.

I shut the tap down before Lt Y and Sgt Mike arrived back at the office. I suppose there was no way to know we were part of a sting by two street wise guys. We hoped things like that don’t happen but after all we weren’t dealing with the most trustworthy individuals.

But that’s not the part of the story that’s significant. You can always be led down a wrong alley. The idea is when you find out its happening is to get out of it as quickly as you can and cut your losses, take your licks, and learn your lessons. But let me go on.

Several months and some wiretaps later Lt. Y and Sgt Mike came back in my office. Sgt Mike had information on this major cocaine dealer in another part of the county. He provided me with an affidavit that would have easily satisfied the probable cause necessary to submit a request for a wiretap warrant. Reading it, though, I had the feeling I’d seen this act before.

So I asked Sgt Mike if the informant he was working with was Snitch. He said it was. I told Lt. Y and Sgt Mike not to let the door hit them on the butts as they left the office. I couldn’t believe Sgt Mike (and Lt. Y) were still working with the guy who had already scammed them.

To do any type of effective law enforcement work you need to work with people who are credible. To get a warrant you have to swear before a magistrate or judge that the informant has provided information that has been shown to be credible in the past. Once a person lies or give wrongful evidence he is no longer credible so you can’t do anything on his information.

That applies to law enforcement and it should apply to the mainstream media. But it doesn’t seem to. In the Marathon Terrorist Attack and the killing of Todashev we’ve been given information from media sources who have been proven wrong again and again. Yet it seems the news repeaters are still using them. It’s a strange situation.


7 thoughts on “The Repeaters Sources In What Today Is Called Journalism

  1. Maybe the food comes from the cafeteria at the Courthouse which the judges set up when the building was opened.

    In synch with the Moakley’s physical presentation and ambience The chow is very good, a little on the healthy food side for those that like yogurt and salad with their court house or yard work. If you yearn for McCormick Building style fare you might be better off getting your coffee, three to a pack chocolate chip cookies and the Herald at the coffee shop on the first floor.

    1. Hopalong:

      You don’t think the judges get their food from the cafeteria? They have their own special dining room and kitchen set up hidden behind their benches. The judges can bring in world famous chefs to serve them their lunches if they desire without having to rub elbows with the hoi polloi.
      Your advice to get food elsewhere is sound. Across the street from the courthouse is one of those catering trucks, the food is delicious but the people line up to get it. If you know nay enterprising friends, it’d be a good idea for one of them to get one of those coffee bike set ups where the person has the whole coffee deal (excellent coffee) in a little set up at the front of his bike. I saw it in Copenhagen. That’s be idea for the summer time picnic at the courthouse.
      And by all means you want to read what Howie says about the trial. I saw him regurgitating his same old stuff in his columns.

  2. With all due respect, it appears what is most critical to journalism today has nothing to do with truth telling. Rather, it’s all about “ratings” and “targeting the dumbed-down interests and intellect of today’s audience in order to generate “sales.” I encourage you all to take a look at Valencia’s article in the Globe on getting ready for the trial posted at:
    The focus is on the “Catering” of the event. This is what Americans want. They want “food” and “entertainment” to go together and they are treating the trial as such. I know that Saturday Night Live has had a recent exodus on staff, so I don’t know who will be taking the pot-shots on the weekend update throughout the summer on all of this, but its ripe for SNL spoofing. Whitey Bulger who? We want to hear more about what was being served today at lunch? Are they coming out with the “Courthouse Cookbook?” How about that coffee they are planning to serve “all day” as outlined in the article. Hope it’s Dunking Donuts Coffee and none of that Starbucks stuff – DD’s local after all, and hey America runs on Dunkin (hmm – unless of course so did Whitey). Unless of course they bring in that Grey’s Anatomy guy (“McDreamy” something)from Maine who just bought up a bunch of coffee places out west and he can have a taste-test table set up…and the Moakley can be the veritable site of the Coffee Wars and the Boston Tea Party at the same-time. And hey, where’s Wahlberg??? Oh what I wwould give to see him come in dressed up as Terry Hoitz and do his traffic-cop “Terry’s corner” routine right in front of the Moakley around the intersection of “Sleeper Street.” Maybe he can even team up with Paula Abdul or JLo to help choreograph the comings and goings of everyone as they enter and file in and out of the court. Wouldn’t it be great to see them all break out into song? And the “journalists” of today can report on all of the “Courthouse Musical” business “Live from the Moak-Glee — and free food too!” Then, then – Americans will be sure to tune in and papers will sell – especially if it’s “catered.” This case is proving out to be a “cash-cow” on so many levels for some folks.

    Just a question….Who is paying for the “catering?” Does Gourmet Caterers have a contract with the state or the feds or both? Was there an RFP? How much is being spent on it? I hope they have the good sense to give whatever food they can that’s left over to the Pine Street Inn and/or other shelters.

    Catering at the Courthouse – that is the focus of what is “Today Called Journalism.”

    1. Alex

      You have a way to find the diamond in the rough. Yes the important thing about the upcoming trial is what is going to happen to the cafeteria food. The rest is really nothing more than watching a Patriot’s game you saw a couple of years ago where you know the result and have little else to do to scare away the boredom on a hot summer day.

      The real excitement for me will be to see how many of our police forces are assembled in and about the area to ward off the non-existent threat that will come about with the start of the trial at Joe’s Hall. Why assemble vast forces when no threat exists? What else are we expecting to do with all our ever increasing police forces. The IRS can only invade so many places to collect taxes. So we need a display. It does tend to send a message to the people “you better watch out, you better behave.” The big questions are: will be see AK47s or similar guns? Will there be ankle biting dogs? Will the Homeland Security Police be there with their drones, tanks, and sharp shooters stationed on top of the surrounding buildings? That remains to be seen and you’ll be the first to know since your ace crime reporter (my new name) will be there to report, if I make it.

      Saturday night live won’t be in the loop. It’s summer and it is having a hard time getting ready for the important fall season. But I heard, and keep this to yourself, that there are going to be two TV type shows about the trial. The first one which Velencia should have mentioned because it is one reason the cafeteria is gearing up is a new reality show called “The Great Coffee Race.” It will involve six team of two individuals. If you skipped arithmetic in school, as most cashiers seem to have done, that’s 12 people. They will sit in the court during the trial. (The Bulger family is being replaced.) At each recess they will have to race to the cafeteria, get a coffee and rush back to the court. At lunch they will have to race to other coffee spots in town or in Southie. They will have to carry the coffee without covers and will be graded on time and spills.

      The other show, and I think you’ve heard about it because you mentioned Paula Abdul, which I heard about is that outside Joe’s Hall every day, rain or shine, she and two others (one is OJ Simpson if he can be sprung, the other may be the ubiquitous Bob Kraft) will judge all those who are allowed to compete. They expect a vast amount of contestants since one of the qualifications is the people not have jobs. They prefer singing jugglers with dogs or ponies or even monkeys. The TV show will be called “American Idle.”

      I’m surprised you didn’t know you were paying for the catering. Who else? If each week we can bring paper bags stuffed with money to Hamid Karzai and let him spend it as he sees fit (Right after we drop off our money the Association of Poppy Growers follows.); and if the people who collect our tax money and threaten us with guns, the IRS, can spend 50,000,000.00 in two years on “get togethers”; then the money spent to help the TV shows and comfort the repeaters should be of little concern.

      You remember the words from the 1960s song from West Side Story: “I like to be in America, Everything free in America.” Since then things have only become better. Joe’s Hall is very much part of America.

      1. Hey “ACE” – please also try to keep us readers posted on who gets a burger or a salad named after them on the menu. What would be a good indicator of “attorney popularity” points would be whether folks are ordering “Wyshak Burger – and ‘fries’ ” more often than they are the “JaynHanks Franks and Beans.” Also, please pay particular note however if folks are ordering their “Wyshak Burger with “extra Cheese” – and whether they are ordering “American” cheese on that burger dammit – None of that ‘foreign bank account kind of cheese’ will be permitted in the courthouse, well, not this time anyway. (ie. Swiss.) May want to give the cafeteria employees a heads up that Mr. Wyshak, Ms. Ortiz and the IRS would like to get an official cafeteria tally/inventory done on the “cheese” orders and use that for investigative purposes….and they better not “screw up.” Alas, order wisely.

        Well, on that note, I guess we can all say that at least we know what they will be putting down on the menu for “The Catch of the Day.”

  3. In a recent statement US Attorney General Eric Holder is quoted to say ” You can’t know what I know”. This was in response to a question about the FBI handling of the Boston Marathon bombing investigation. Your above post today you write “In the Marathon Terrorist Attack and the killing of Todashev we’ve been given information from media sources who have been proven wrong again and again. Yet it seems the news repeaters are still using them. It’s a strange situation.”

    The dilemma that the media and the public appear to be in is that we need to trust those in law enforcement to do the right thing with the information that we “can’t” know. As with the definition of “is”, in this context, I wonder what the definition of “can’t” “is”?

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