Understanding Robert Fitzpatrick: The Billy Bulger Story

(1) walking awayFrom my perspective the indictment of Robert Fitzpatrick is a delicious moment in its intrigue and its wrongness. My immediate post after learning of the indictment told of the federal horror in indicting this 75-year-old man for perjury on matters almost two years old and which had little to no effect on the trial. This is so far out of the course for an experienced prosecutor, even a vengeful one, that something else must be happening to bring it about.

I sent an email to Fitzpatrick  –  “Bob:  I was sorry to see that you have become a victim of Wyshak.  I’ve read the indictment and must say that I find it unconscionable that you have been charged with perjury and more so obstruction of justice. As i (sic) understand the law for perjury you must testify to a matter material to the trial and something that you do not believe. None of the matters you testified to are (sic) material to the charges against Whitey (whether he was an informant or not was not material except in Wyshak’s brain) and most importantly you believe them to be true or you would not have testified that way.  I’ll do some posts showing that I believe you have been wrongfully charged. I hope someone above Wyshak comes to his or her senses and sees these are frivolous, vindictive and accusations without merit. If I can help you out in any way let me know. I wish you the best and I hope that this doesn’t get you down too much. You’ve been a fighter all your life so don’t throw in the towel yet.”

I do not know how he took that. I do believe that Fitzpatrick believes what he testified to is the truth even though what the truth is may be substantially different from what he thinks it is. When I first read Fitzpatrick’s book I was bothered by some of what he wrote. I highlighted one episode where he wrote about a visit to Billy Bulger with John Connolly when Billy was president of the Massachusetts Senate. He said he “could not have been warmer or more gregarious.” He then says of the 20 minute meeting he had with him “I caged the rest of the meeting in a framework that Billy too, was a con man used to getting what he wanted and taking whatever action was necessary when he didn’t.” The use of “too” was to compare him to Whitey. Fitzgerald continued: “Shaking hands was just part of his con.”

It was this episode that made me realize Fitzgerald saw the world a little differently that other people. There are other things he wrote that suggested he was marching to a different drummer I’ll talk about later. Wyshak should have known this and acted accordingly.

Prior to meeting Billy in 1981 Fitzpatrick had met Whitey in Quincy at Whitey’s condo. The meeting went quite poorly. He then went to see Billy at the behest of John Connolly a low-level agent as apparently an FBI tradition to introduce new SACs and ASACs to people in high positions. No one forced him to go since he was second in charge of the office. He wanted to meet Billy. Billy being gracious and friendly to him as he would have been to any visitor was turned into something evil. He pointed to nothing happening out of the ordinary. It was the usual meeting with a politician. He quoted Billy as saying: “Anything I can do for you while you are in town, just call.”   

He said he walked back to his office thinking, “Billy Bulger was a bully using power in place of his fists. And he wanted me to know I was alone, helpless against powerful forces I could neither control nor fully comprehend. . . I felt strangely like I was back at the Mount again, hanging by the steam pipes of Cottage 3, my flesh blistering as the sadistic counselors Scatvelli and Farber waited for me to drop. . . . Only, this time I was no longer that frightened, lonely child. This time I would fight back. I would do what was right, just like the brave heroes recalled from This Is Your FBI playing over the radio down the hall from Sister Mary Assumpta’s bedroom.”

This was the thought process of the man who was made second in charge of the FBI office in Boston after meeting with Billy Bulger where nothing Billy said or did is pointed to that brought it about. Fitzpatrick went on that driving back from the meeting with Bulger (I’m not sure why they were driving since the location of Billy’s office and the FBI office were just about next to each other) he “knew exactly what I needed to do: close Whitey Bulger and put the Boston office back on track, no matter how many names I had to take or asses I had to kick.”

Without any facts or evidence Fitpatrick tells us he has determined Billy Bulger is evil merely because Whitey is his brother. Wyshak would later come to the same conclusion without anything to back it up. Both men in powerful positions began Ahab-like crusades against Billy; that he was a man of the highest integrity and ethics accounts for his survival. For we see how easy it is for Wyshak to indict someone with his indictment of Fitzpatrick. What is delicious about the whole affair is that these men who aimed to destroy an innocent person are now going to destroy each other.

16 thoughts on “Understanding Robert Fitzpatrick: The Billy Bulger Story

  1. Matt: I gather Fitzpatrick hasn’t responded to your e-mail. Your own impressions of the man aren’t very encouraging.
    I don’t care about the rifle used to kill MLK Jr, etc., etc. The crux of the matter for me for is whether Fitzpatrick did all in his power to close out Bulger as a high-level informant. It’s very interesting to think that the man best placed to confirm or deny Fitzpatrick’s version of events is the guy you’ve been fighting for: John Connolly. All of this being said, I still see Fitzpatrick’s indictment as a vindictive act of revenge and a serious abuse of prosecutorial power. (By the way, if Fitzpatrick is indeed delusional, it’s all the more reason to pass on a criminal prosecution .)

    1. Dan:

      I think with Fitzpatrick we are seeing a guy who is putting out a little revisionist history. There’s no doubt Fitzpatrick tried to get Halloran into the witness protection program. He claims Halloran was his informant but he was actually the informant for Leo Brunnick and Gerald Montinari who were agents that worked under him. Those two men worked Halloran and they were attempting to use him to nail Bulger. Fitzpatrick backed them up. He was then ordered to run everything through Connolly by the guys in Washington, DC who were his boss. At that point he told Brunnick and Montinari they had to run their doings through Connolly. In one sense you could say he didn’t do all he could since he fell in line with orders; in another sense you could say he had no choice but to do that if he wanted to keep his job since as he says the FBI is a semi-military organization and you do what your superior tells you.
      I’m sure Connolly would have no good words for Fitzpatrick. A couple of times he was out of line (one when he was at the interview of Whitey when he shouldn’t have been there) and Fitzpatrick rather than confronting him (or kicking him out of the meeting) would take it out on Morris. I sense Fitzpatrick feared and disliked Connolly because although he was under him in the chain of command he ignored him and did what he wanted.
      It is as you say vindictive and an abuse since nothing can be gained to hurt Fitzpatrick so as I suggest today there is something else behind it. As for his remembering the past in a peculiar way that does not conform to reality you are right that is a reason not to prosecute.

  2. Whether anyone agrees or disagrees with all of the “blue-ink-black-ink” issues, as usual, another excellent column.

    As for anyone in the Department of Justice “coming to their senses”, I don’t think so. It’s a government agency totally out of control and no one can or will take measures to fix it.

    dougkinan@yahoo.com

  3. Matt

    Its truly pathetic, disgusting, and sad that Robert Fitzpatrick has to deal with such a situation after having worked for the FBI. I hope Fitzpatrick is found innocent and then sues Wyshak. On a side note have you seen the movie THE DEPARTED? Its a remake of a foreign film but looks to be loosely based on Whitey Bulger and the Boston organized crime. also, have you read any books that has a as close to reality as possible depiction of organized crime?

    Still shaking my head that Mr. Fitzpatrick actually had charged slapped on him

    1. Jerome:

      Wyshak can do this because federal prosecutors cannot be sued. He would have been wiser to let Fitzpatrick go on with his life rather than indicting him so the big question is why did he do it.
      I knew the Departed was a remake which is amazing because the Hong Kong movie on which it was based was a run of the mill production. I think it won because it was Jack Nicholson’s last hurrah. I thought the move was deplorable.
      A good book I read on the Bulger affair which I have some disagreement with is the Ralph Ranalli book Deadly Alliance. Tom English writes some good books on the NY mob (especially the Irish part) but he’s somewhat wrong trying to extrapolate his NY experience to Boston where he falls the media line. There’s a huge tome “the Five Families” that gives a run down of the NY mob. I know of others that don’t come to mind now but if I recall them I’ll let you know.

      1. Thanks Matt. I have Deadly Alliance and Five Families as per your recommendation. Feel free to add any other recommendations. Still no news on Whitey Bulger getting transferred to Florida and John Connolly? Do you believe Steve Flemmi gets out of prison and would this ever be made public?

        1. Jerome:

          I’ll let you know of others when I have a chance. Whitey is in Florida – I’ve written to him to see if he’ll meet me but haven;t heard back. Connolly’s decision should be coming down any day now: he’ll either get out or spend a few more years in prison. As for Flemmi, the last time I looked he was not in the custody of the Bureau of Prisons. He could very well have gotten out by now and is living somewhere outside of the area. There’s no way to find out that I know of. During Whitey’s trial I noted Wyshak always skirted the issue of whether he’d get out or not. If I hear anything I’ll keep you posted.

          1. Matt: I’m astonished! I always assumed Flemmi was in for life. If Flemmi is walking the streets a free man, they might as well give Bulger a hundred hours of community service and let him go too ….

            1. Dan:

              I’m not sure about that but it seems to be the case. Flemmi is not in Bureau of Prison custody. I just checked again. It reads: “Stephen J. Flemmi, Register Number 20431-038l, age 80, white male, NOT IN BOP CUSTODY, Release Date, UKNONWN”

              What all that means is he is in the custody of the U.S. Marahalls and he has been in their custody since before Whitey’s trial. The U.S. Marshall’s run the witness protection program. That is the program where people change their names and go back into the community. Why would a guy who has been sentenced to life in prison for murdering people be in that program and not in prison. You are right that if he is walking the street then Whitey should have been given community service since he didn not measure up to Flemmi one-two when it came to evil.

  4. Most of the public have seen through Wyshak/Kelly’s twisted stories and ready use of paid for witness perjury as was evident at Bulger’s trial.

    1. I don’t agree, Bruce. I think many of us here see it your way, but most of the public still sees Wyshak as some sort of avenging crusader against evil, largely due to his piss boys/girls at The rapidly declining Boston Globe. I think we’re a small minority that see him for the petty, vile, small man that he truly is.

      1. @ Declan McManus

        Point taken. Even though this supposedly went forward as an arms-length DOJ-OIG case, I can’t see how this went forward without the acquiescence of newly sworn in AG Loretta Lynch, which was not unexpected.

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