I wrote how former State Police Colonel Thomas Foley suggested that in 1990 he did something extraordinarily brave by going after Whitey. I noted how he wrote “Everybody knew; don’t cross Billy Bulger.” The clear inference being that to go after Whitey you’d be crossing Billy and you’d suffer for it. Secondarily, that it was only someone quite courageous like Foley that would dare do it.
Implicit in the writings of others is the idea that because Whitey was not charged with a crime for 25 or 30 years no one was investigating him and the major reason for this was fear of Billy. How else could a top criminal not be charged with a crime over that period of time?
When Whitey got out of prison in 1965 he was around for ten years prior to becoming an FBI informant. During those years he was never charged with a crime either. We know he was involved in criminal activity as a member of the Killeen gang and if Martorano is to be believed in the murders surrounding Indian Joe. We also know that his brother Billy had little power during those years when he served in the Massachusetts House of Representative (1960-1970) and as a junior member in the Massachusetts Senate. During that time we cannot say he got a pass because of his brother or because of his connection to the FBI.
For me that makes the argument spun out by Lawyer Carney that he was a top criminal and was never arrested because of some corruption in the federal government or by others such as Foley that he was protected by his brother a lot less credible. Perhaps a good deal of credit must go to Whitey himself who seemed to be a very disciplined operative and aware of his environment at all times. The young woman who he was involved with after he got out of prison and with whom he had a son said of him that he seemed to know everything that was going around.
I have mentioned before that the groups I worked with never gave Billy a thought as we went after Whitey. Yes, that is absolutely true. Colonel Foley noted Billy had control over DA Reilly’s budget so in a like manner he had it over DA Delahunt’s where I ran the organized crime investigations. From 1975 on we were constantly after Whitey’s organizations. I happened to be reading some old FBI reports that were made back in 1984.
On 10/17/84, James Ring a Boston FBI supervisor noted that Whitey and Stevie were the targets of outside agencies. He wrote after meeting with them that : “They knew from their sources that District Attorney WILLIAM DELAHUNT had specifically targeted them as subjects and they further felt that Colonel JACK O’DONOVAN of the Mass. State police had a vendetta against them and concluded that the State Police would also participate in such an investigation.” As you can see both my office and the State Police had no fear of going after Whitey. Billy’s position had no effect on us nor did it on any other police agency I worked with.
At the time Ring was writing the memo he was doing so because the DEA was after Whitey. You can see he was not being given a pass by the state or some feds.
On 11/01/84 Connolly was required to write out a lengthy report about what Whitey and Stevie knew about surveillance being conducted against them. He wrote that Colonel O’Donovan has had a vendetta against them since the Lancaster Street bug was compromised in 1980. He told how State troopers two years earlier seized Flemmi’s car, towed it and put a bug in it. How back in 1980 the State troopers had bugged a row of pay phones trying to get Whitey and how Quincy police had been going through Whitey’s rubbish and how they made two entries into his condo when he wasn’t there on a pretext. For five pages he set out situations where they were under constant surveillance by the state police and even the Boston detectives from the Suffolk DA’s office. The “increased attention, they believe it has its inception in Quincy which means District Attorney Delahunt to them.”
Connnolly’s report continues telling how they have been taking precautions. He said the “do not talk business on phones, in cars, in rooms or offices of any kind, anywhere.” He pointed out they had “sophisticated debugging equipment;”and “elaborate alarms in their cars” and “Ditto for their houses.”
He added that they “do not talk to strangers” and check people who approach them for bugs by patting them down. Connolly concluded that they had been “for several years in a constant state of alert.” Connolly followed up with subsequent reports showing the ongoing surveillance. On 2-25-85 he wrote they have “noticed current coverage on them and believed that this is a continuous “vendetta” against them by the Massachusetts State Police and Bill Delahunt’s Quincy cops.”
I suggest once and for all we put away the idea that state DAs, State Police, or local police like Boston or Quincy were laying off Whitey and Stevie because of Billy Bulger or that there were not intensive investigations going on against them. We can also see how they evaded arrests and charges because they isolated themselves and remained constantly disciplined and on guard. Add to that the protection they were getting from the FBI as Top Echelon Informants which allowed FBI agents to give them tips about investigations against them and guaranteed them that no FBI agent would investigate them.
You see there was no great corruption occurring in the Justice Department. Jeremiah O’Sullivan was not working to keep Whitey from being prosecuted. No one on the state side thought by bringing Whitey down they were crossing Billy. It was a simple matter of two highly disciplined gangsters being protected by the FBI