The Whitey Bulger Story: Our Government Hiding Information And Wasting Money

When I got home last night from my trip I had a message from a nurse who had been married to one of the top investigators who chased after Whitey for years and almost had him a couple of times. She asked me if I wanted to send flowers “to Boston Medical Center to Whitey Bulger or did I want to go and visit” him.  She went on to say, your “buddy’s there. What do you think? Is he faking it?”

That’s the first time I learned Whitey had been taken to the hospital. The Boston Globe reported on Sunday at 1:48 a.m. Plymouth firefighters were called from the Plymouth jail to pick him up and take him into Boston. Google directions says the trip is a tad over 40 miles. The Globe then reported, “Officials who were briefed on the situation but asked not to be named said Bulger had been complaining of chest pains.”  That’s pretty much worthless information citing anonymous sources. The officials could be members of the night clean-up crew at Plymouth prison.

I wrote the other day about the great interest in this case shown by a packed courtroom for a motion hearing which the defendant Whitey did not attend. Concomitant with that, I would think, is a duty by the government to keep the people informed. Shouldn’t we know why this forty mile trip in the middle of the night which we paid for was necessary?

The Globe reports, “The Plymouth County Sheriff’s Department, US Marshals Service, and the US attorney’s office in Boston refused to comment on Bulger’s condition.” 

Is there any logical reason why the public is being denied this information about this notorious man? It is important for us to know this so that we can evaluate the behavior of our government in handling this case. Judge Stearns is about to make a decision on Whitey’s motion to continue the date of his trial. If Whitey is truly ill, that will impact his decision? He may decide that the interest of justice demand one thing or the other because of his condition. Aren’t we as members of public entitled to know this so that we can consider the wisdom of his decision?

Maybe, as my nurse friend says, “he’s faking it.”  You’ve all read of these Mafia guys who were never brought to trial because they were deemed “too sick to be put on trial.”  Is this one of Whitey’s tricks to bring about a delay?  Remember, Whitey wants to stay in the area and not get shipped out to ADX Florence.

Just the other day, last Thursday, J.W. Carney, Whitey’s lawyer, said Whitey was in good health.  Did Whitey learn that Judge Stearns denied his motion for a continuance so he decided to go about getting a continuance in the gangster way? He’s a gangster and knows these gangster moves.

Whitey’s condition cannot be hidden under the “it’s under investigation” mantra usually spun out by the investigating agencies. Surely Whitey’s health is not a state secret nor is it a private matter. The family of the victims and the general public are entitled to this knowledge. Many are judging the Justice Department and the FBI and the criminal justice system by what is and will happen in this case against Whitey. We cannot exercise our rights as citizens properly to make informed decisions if the knowledge of matters in which we are concerned is hidden from us.

Which brings me to a second issue. Why is Whitey being kept by the federal government in a county jail over 40 miles away from the place of his trial?  Aren’t there any jails or lock-up facilities closer than Plymouth? We’ve already seen the sad spectacle of flying Whitey to a hearing in a helicopter.  We’ve seen the mighty police caravan whisking him up Route 3 through morning commuting traffic inconveniencing the regular commuters. The cost of these exercises range in the tens of thousands of dollars just to get Whitey back and forth to court. (Route 3 will look like a three-ring circus when it becomes a daily occurrence.)

Why is he being transported to a hospital in Boston as if there are none on the South Shore?  Why if a tax paying, hard-working citizen in Plymouth has an emergency he goes to the Jordan Hospital or the South Shore Hospital but Whitey gets taken to Boston? Will they soon be flying him to the Cleveland Clinic to see the specialist of his choice? Under Judge Wolf’s rationale that it is cruel and unusual punishment under the Eight Amendment decision to not provide a sex readjustment surgery for Michele Kosilek that might be the case.

Secrecy and the waste of money seems to be what the government has become. Unless and until we citizens demand openness to all things except those necessary to preserve our national safety and require prudence in the handling of our finances we are failing in our obligations. Government prefers to operate in the dark as we’ve seen here in the matters surrounding Whitey Bulger and will take as much power from us as we are willing to cede. You all have read that “Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, . . .”  We cannot consent to government actions if we cannot know them or close our eyes to them.

 

10 thoughts on “The Whitey Bulger Story: Our Government Hiding Information And Wasting Money

  1. Matt,

    Under normal circumstances, HIPAA prevents medical professionals, like your nurse friend, from disclosing a patient’s medical information. I doubt that law is waived or suspended because someone stands accused of a crime. The news about Whitey’s hospitalization is not remarkable for what we don’t know about the circumstances. It’s remarkable for how much medical information was leaked to the media from a range of sources. Frankly, it’s striking that everyone assumes they don’t have to follow the law in the Bulger case.

    Admittedly, you’re not the only one who wants Whitey’s personal medical information, but it’s hard to justify your demand for Bulger’s personal medical information simply because a courtroom was full of spectators for a motion last week.

    The treatment of this defendant before, during, and after this trial is nothing short of a test of the integrity our legal system and the Bill of Rights. The preservation of the latter should be most concerning to attorneys. People come and go in their jobs as cops etc., but the integrity of this “nation of laws” relies on enduring and blindly applied Constitutional rights. (All involved failed miserably in John Connolly’s cases.)

    Like you, I’ve prosecuted too many people to learn now the heart of the Constitution is a gag. It’s protections must not be malleable and based upon how many spectators sat in a court room. The judges, cops, prosecutors are duty bound to withstand the enormous pressure from the media and to apply the law as they would for any defendant. We are two thousand years from the crowd yelling “Barabus”, but this case proves little has changed when a case raises emotions…. and profits.

    Can our Constitution really allow the government to place an 83 year old in solitary confinement indefinitely because he stands accused of a crime? Yes, if the crowd yells for it. The presumption of innocence is hollow in this case.

    Fyodor Dostoyevsky said, “the degree of a nation’s civilization can be seen in the way it treats its prisoners.” This country’s treatment of “presumed innocent” prisoners doesn’t bode well for our nation.

    Can our Constitution really allow a defendant to be pushed to trial before counsel can prepare?

    Can our Constitution really allow the prosecutors to pay potential witnesses enormous sums, even give them their life itself, to create evidence against someone who embarrassed them?

    Can our Constitution really allow such prosecutors to knowingly suborn perjury of material facts in trials?

    Can our Constitution really allow a judge to hear the case who was involved in the facts of the case and whose friend(s) will testify before him?

    So far, no government officials have done anything in this case to even suggest the Bill of Rights exists.

    1. Your exactly correct.

      The problem is the government has been doing this for years with the Boston area one of the worst offenders ( number 2 in wrongful murder convictions in the nation).

      Numerous innocent people have been wrongfully incarcerated via prejured testimony, fake and planted evidence ( see drug lab scandal, BPD fingerprint unit scandal etc.) and by out right criminal acts by our government ( Joe Slavati et al).

      The problem is the general public doesn’t care ! They read the government controlled media and their minds regarding guilt or innocent are made before there’s even a trial.

      The prosecutors, cops and agents that are playing the game by targeting innocent people for persecution then doing whatever it takes to get a conviction are the real criminals. The Constitution is routinely set aside by these supposed lawmen for their own personal or political agendas.

      Nothing will change until the public takes their blinders off and demand we become what we were mean’t to be; a free democracy.

      1. I see that Patty has replied to your comment so I’ll be brief. ou are so right that so many people don’t care and are influenced by headlines in the newspapers or comments on the radio. A guy wrote to me who lives in Hawaii and said he meets people from Boston on occasion who only talk Red Sox and Patriots. Even if we can only interests one or two people in paying attention to the government’s actions that will be one or two more who can influence others. I appreciate you reading the comments and posts and commenting from time to time.

    2. Patty:

      Good post. I couldn’t respond quickly since I had to think about it. You’re trying to send me out to the woodshed for a little licking since I’m not giving Whitey the rights others have when it comes to medical records. You’re right in what you say but I think in Whitey’s case we should know more. All I know about is what I read in the news papers which seems to be a lot of scuttlebutt or cop rumors. I can’t trust that since none of it is sourced. I know the prosecutors and their friends in the media know as does Carney and the judge and all they have told so I don’t think his situation is that private. I feel a need to know to comment on the happenings in the case. I don’t think it’d be a great injustice to Whitey for the public to know because all his enemies know.
      I’m not saying you are wrong in what you stated. I’m just ignoring the law in this one instance, just like I would want it ignored if the president or other prominent person was rushed to the hospital. Maybe I’m just tired of all this “no comment” stuff we all accept from the prosecutors. How can we make valid judgments about things if we are kept in the dark?
      Our judicial system has failed the test of integrity over the past decade. Let me modify that. When it comes to a certain group of people it doesn’t exist, those are the ones who are labeled “enemy combatants” who are put into our Gulag and are not charged and will never be able to taste freedom again. With respect to those people the Constitution has been thrown out the window. It also has failed when innocent people caught up in the Moslem drag net try to be compensated for their damages and the case is thrown out on state secret grounds; and on the other end when criminals who have killed people get killed by other criminals and their families get large rewards because the FBI partnered with one of the alleged criminals.
      How is it we are even bringing Whitey to trial for the murders when the same courts have already found he did the killings and awarded enormous sums of money based on that fact?
      Yes, in other areas the system does have some integrity left and the Bill of Rights seems to apply. Carney pointed out this is a test of the concept of whether a person vilified by society can get a free trial or do we regress to the days when an emperor’s thumb’s down determined a person’s fate.
      You know the most important person in the criminal justice system is the prosecutor. He and she have absolute immunity for their actions and can decide who walks or who gets charged. Someday (if the country can cling to the idea of everyone being equal under the law) this case will be closely examined as to the actions of the prosecutors. Who knows whether what we are able to write about in this space will not come into that examination and serve as a reminder for future historians as to how what happened to the “evil one.”
      Presumption of innocence is meaningless outside of a courtroom trial setting. It only means when the evidence starts no adverse presumption or inference can be made from the fact of the charge. We don’t blind ourselves to a defendant’s history. 83 year old men in solitary confinement does not seem cruel and unusual in this country, we have prisons like ADX Florence where people will live in that situation for fifty or more years.
      I disagree on your statement on Connolly. He got what he deserved up here thanks to a perceptive jury that did not convict him on any gangster testimony that was not corroborated. Connolly’s problem was his association with these gangsters after he retired and some of the acts he did at that time. Florida was, is and will always be plainly wrong.
      Our constitution presumes a defendant will have time to prepare for it is inherent in the idea of having counsel that one will be given the chance to prepare. There’s also the fact that if we wait for defense counsel to say they are prepared you’d never have any trials.
      I’m struggling with the payments of thugs. I agree it was all right to pay Murderman and Brutalman for the evidence to get Whitey and Stevie. You couldn’t let them stay on the outside based on the evidence you believed you had. The Constitution accepts that but it does require the prosecution to tell about everything it did to get that deal. Here, as we are finding out much has been hidden. I talk about the perjury issue in my post today. I’m processing that still.
      Stearns would be better off recusing himself. There is no doubt people who worked with him in the prosecutor’s office knew about Whitey and his depravations. Even if he truly didn’t, the aura of impartiality remains.
      I suggest Whitey’s been treated fairly to this time. It’s the future that will tell whether we have a system that keeps the playing field level. I never knew when I started this project so much was involved in it.

  2. DEAR NOTA,

    BELOW IS SOME INTERESTING READING ALONG THOSE LINES FROM THE INNOCENCE PROJECT. YOU MUST READ THE ‘USA TODAY’ ARTICLE ABOUT THE RAMPANT AND INCREASING MISCONDUCT IN THE US ATTORNEY’S OFFICE IN MASS.

    http://projects.usatoday.com/news/2010/justice/cases/

    USA TODAY Investigation Reveals Serious Misconduct by Justice Department Prosecutors
    Posted: September 23, 2010 5:20 pm

    Prosecutorial misconduct was a factor in 65 of the 258 DNA exonerations nationwide. Those cases involved documented appeals and/or civil suits addressing prosecutorial misconduct with 31 cases resulting in court findings of error and 12 cases leading to reversals. That misconduct ranged from suggestiveness in identification procedures, withholding evidence from the defense, deliberate mishandling or destruction of evidence, coercion of false confessions and the use of unreliable government informants or snitches.

    Judges have long warned prosecutors about behavior that prevents giving suspects a fair trial and as a result, Congress passed a law in 1997 to combat prosecutorial misconduct.

    Since that law was enacted, USA TODAY documented over 200 criminal cases where judges determined that federal prosecutors – described by USA Today as the “most elite and powerful law enforcement officials” in the nation — violated laws or ethic rules.

    In case after case during that time, judges blasted prosecutors for “flagrant” or “outrageous” misconduct. They caught some prosecutors hiding evidence, found others lying to judges and juries, and said others had broken plea bargains.

    Such abuses, intentional or not, doubtless infect no more than a small fraction of the tens of thousands of criminal cases filed in the nation’s federal courts each year. But the transgressions USA TODAY identified were so serious that, in each case, judges threw out charges, overturned convictions or rebuked prosecutors for misconduct. And each has the potential to tarnish the reputation of the prosecutors who do their jobs honorably.

    Read the full article here.

    There has been a major increase in the number of complaints judges have made about prosecutorial misconduct since 2001. Back then, there were 42 complaints. Last year, there were 61. Over the past 12 years, USA TODAY was only able to identify one federal prosecutor who was barred, even temporarily, from practicing law for such misconduct.

    The investigation found 47 cases in which defendants were either exonerated or set free after the violations surfaced.

    That is exactly what happened to Nino Lyons of Orlando, Florida. The jurors who found Lyons guilty of drug trafficking after hearing testimony from multiple witnesses were never informed about vital evidence that could have pointed toward his innocence.

    According to USA TODAY, the federal prosecutors never informed the jury that a convict who claimed he purchased hundreds of pounds of cocaine from Lyons barely identified his photograph. Prosecutors also promised early release to other prisoners in exchange for their cooperation. Lyons spent nearly three years in prison before his case was thrown out because of prosecutorial misconduct.

    As a result of prosecutorial misconduct, guilty people remain at large or face a lesser consequence and taxpayers ultimately finance the unethical behavior of the Justice Department.

    Learn about government and prosecutorial misconduct here.

    Read the Innocence Project’s report on prosecutorial misconduct and wrongful convictions here.

    1. Last night I read J.W. Carney’s recent filing. He is putting all of this out on the table. A serious and gutsy lawyer is asking the right questions. I mentioned it today and I’ll write more about it tomorrow. Sometimes my thought process only takes me so far. I sat through the Connolly trial and found the relationship between the cops and the gangster witnesses a little strange. Why are these guys so friendly, I asked? It just didn’t seem right for these guys being so close to Murderman while at the same time condemning Connolly for being close to Whitey. It didn’t occur to me that the relationship reeked of undisclosed promises, rewards and commitments from the government to Murderman. Carney intends to bring these to light.
      Murderman wrote in his book about dealing with the feds: “[T]hey knew how bad it would look, if I admitted to twenty murders, and I only had to testify against four people. So they came up with a specific target list. I had nothing to do with drawing up that list. It was a bunch of Whitey’s guys from Southie that I would have to testify against. Sure, I said. I’d never known any of those guys, let alone committed any crimes with them. So I was glad to say I’d tell the government the truth about about anything I did with them, which was nothing.” This is the government conspiring with a witness to present false testimony. If this is true, it is as sordid as it can be that the government would conspired with a witness to lie about what he would do in exchange for his deals. I’m sure Connolly never knew of this type of dealings. (It may notdo much good for him to show Martorano and the government were in a conspiracy to defraud the public since the jury did not believe Martorano.) That to me is one of the most bothersome things I have read about the prosecution team.
      By the way, Carney’s filing supports what you have been suggesting that there was ongoing contact between Weeks and Martorano during the time they were in prison which allowed them to coordinate their performances.
      I opened Murderman’s book. Tell me the FBI was looking for him after seeing him standing in Boca Raton in the early ’90s with his arm around his mother. Murderman is the worst of the worst and he’s living openly in Florida with regular contact with his family from 1979 to 1995 and the FBI can’t find him. This story is so sordid and complex yet it is being told by people who are buddies with the feds who have a vested interest in keeping that relationship.
      One other thing I’m coming up with does not pertain to Whitey so much but to the Globe articles on Billy. I’ve always said the only reason we ever caught criminals is they were dumb. All the people who have written books on these matters are dumb. They have no idea how much they have disclosed about things we would never know about.
      Robert Fitzpatrick the FBI Agent wrote: “In July 1988, shortly after [DOJ and O’Sullivan] failed to act on the intelligence [about 75 State Street] . . . Dick Lehr from the Boston Globe called, saying he wanted to talk to me about the Bulger affair.” Lehr drives to Rhode Island to meet Fitzpatrick at his house. Fitzgerald writes, “So I spent the next several hours laying things out for Lehr, about how Whitey Bulger was a liability who’d never given the FBI any information of substance, especially regarding the Angiulo mob my squad had brought down. I told him the very notion of having an organized crime kingpin as an informant went against . . . .”
      Earlier Fitzpatrick tells of meeting with Morris to find out that O’Sullivan was declining prosecution on 75 State Street. He uses that as his excuse for cooperating with Lehr. What we learn from this is that when the Globe wrote its Spotllight Article about Billy Bulger, it never tod us that both Morris and Fitzpatrick had been feeding it information from the FBI. Two guys who hated Bulger. That’s just a small slice of this whole pie.

  3. Matt, Plymouth is the only facility in the state that house pre-trial federal detainees. Other county facilities do house federal inmates but those are inmates who are sentenced. The same goes for the Mass Doc. If you look into past Mobsters like Flemmi, Salemme etc. They were all housed in plymouth while awaiting trial on federal charges. It is a relatinship that has been worked out between Plymouth and the Feds. Each County or State facility receives a certain amount of money for housing the inmate. I do not know the exact reason but from my experience Plymouth has always held pre trial federal inmates. Especially Mobsters. Even recently as ” The Cheeseman”.

    1. Thanks for writing Cal. I know about Plymouth and its role with the federal government. It’s a good money maker for Plymouth. My point is that Plymouth is far from Boston. Why are the feds wasting all the money keeping prisoners there when there are just as good prisons much closer to the courts and the hospitals? No one seems to question the feds decision and says that’s the way it is. It seems to me to be a dumb choice. Sometimes like the infamous federal bus ride of prisoners around the country, 16 hours confined to a bus without sanitation facilities, it is designed to provide punishment outside of the approved punishments. Plymouth is inconvenient for counsel and the prisoners. Is that why it is used? It seems to me that is the case. I appreciate the information.

  4. Patty,

    Thanks for the info. Interesting that the Boston USAO had one of the highest amount of cases involving misconduct. Unfortunately nothing has changed there.

    I’d love to know why they do what they do ?

    Their prosecutorial misconduct runs the gamut from mobsters to cops to regular people but I’m sure there’s a backstory for each and every prosecution.

    Its ironic because you would think it would be easier, more economical and ethical to simply conduct criminal investigations and prosections honestly and within the confines of the Constitution.

    Must be pretty big reasosn to break your oath of office and commit crimes trying to convict innocent people. Doubt we’ll ever know why.

    1. Notaboyo: good question. Maybe Patty can answer. I try to think back on my career. I always thought the worst thing that could happen to any person is to be incarcerated for something he did not do. You are either letting the real criminal escape punishment; or, you’ve conjured up a crime where one really doesn’t exist as in the probation case.

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