Understanding the John Connolly Case: Part 1

Should We Say This Of John Connolly?

John Connolly was convicted of second degree murder. For the sake of the appeal all, even Connolly’s lawyers, conceded that was a proper conviction.

The issue then is whether another statute relating to the use of gun during the commission of a crime applies to Connolly’s situation. If it does not, then Connolly cannot be convicted of second degree murder because the statute of limitations for that crime would have long passed. If it does, then he can be convicted because the utilization of the gun turns the crime into a life sentence and the statute of limitations does not apply.

(A little side issue is that if Connolly’s lawyer had filed the right motion after he was found guilty within ten days then the trial judge would have ruled the statute of limitations had passed and he must be acquitted. He filed it 30 days after.  It was too late. The trial judge lost jurisdiction. Connolly lost his freedom.)

The facts in Connolly’s case are simple from the Appeals Court point of view. Connolly met with Martorano, Bulger and Flemmi a few times. He told them they had to murder Callahan or else they would all go to prison. At those times he met he was wearing his FBI gun. Three weeks after his last meeting Martorano shot Callahan in the head in Fort Lauderdale. Florida. Connolly was in Massachusetts at that time.

The statute relating to the use of the gun states as applicable here: “whenever a person is charged with a felony, . . . and during the commission of such felony the defendant carries, displays, uses, threatens to use, or attempts to use any weapon or firearm, . . . the person charged shall  be reclassified . . . .”

The issue is: did Connolly during the commission of Callahan’s murder carry a weapon. 

The Judge Rothenberg of the Third District Court of Appeal writing for the majority took 68 pages to answer that question. Other judges dissenting used 74 pages explaining why she was wrong.

Step back a second and think for yourself what that statute is intended to accomplish. You don’t have to be a lawyer or judge to figure it out. It seems to me it is simple. The legislature wanted to punish people who brought guns to the scene of a crime.  If you and Buddyboy rob a bank with a gun, then you are going to get your sentence  increased; if you and Buddyboy do it with a note and a mask then you won’t.

The Connolly court does not see it that way. It states that from the time you first plan the crime up to its commission if at any time you carry a gun or other weapon  your sentence can be reclassified even though you did not use any gun or weapon while committing the actual act.

Here is a simple example to show why the decision is so wrong. Suppose on Monday you and Buddyboy start making preparations to rob a bank on Friday. You sit at the kitchen table next to the sliding door leading out to the lanai. You are both wearing your guns. You decide who will steal the car, get the masks, do the casing, and other steps. Buddyboy says: “are we going to bring these” as he hold up his gun. You take your gun out and say: “no, no firearms, I don’t want anyone shot. We’ll leave them here.”  You and he walk over to the hide and put the guns in. That Firday you commit the robbery.

The judges in Connolly case would say that the statute applied to you and that you  can be reclassified. That is because the robbery began at the time you sat at the table planning it. The planning is “during the commission of the” robbery.  Even though you did not use any guns during the Friday robbery you carried the guns on the Monday when you were planning the robbery.

The problem with the decision is rather than upholding the intent of the statute which is to keep guns away from felony situations it encourages bringing them to the commission of a felony.  If one carries any weapon during any stage of the planning of a felony even if it is months before and even if it is only a kitchen carving knife then the statute will apply to that person. You can be reclassified up? Why not bring them after you carve the turkey since it is already too late to avoid being reclassified.

It makes no sense. It is an example of a court out to get someone making bad law just to do that. It shows how judges can twist and turn to law to make it do the opposite that it was intended to do.


18 thoughts on “Understanding the John Connolly Case: Part 1

  1. I’m pretty sure that Martorano testified in Connolly’s Miami trial that he never met with or spoke to John Connolly in his life. I think the Florida testimony was that Connolly told Whitey who told Flemmi and they summoned Martorano to a hotel in NY and there they told him that Connolly told them that Callahan had to be killed. Classic totempole hearsay. Sketchy, but that’s the reason Wyshak only charges RICO/conspiracies. Hearsay from decades past is admissible and Wyshak is authorized to bribe witnesses to say what he wants them to say. It’s an ironclad formula for trial success.
    Another plausible version of the Callahan slaying is that Callahan, Martorano, and Halloran partied together. All three were big drinkers and cokeheads. They were undisciplined and unpredictable. Callahan first tried to get Halloran to kill Wheeler for him. When that failed, Calkahan talked Martorano into it (and paid him). Bulger and Flemmi were unlikely to target a very wealthy, legit, business man that they didn’t know. They were even less likely to hire the coke-head Halloran (Balloon Head) to undertake such a risky job. Halloran was unlikely to find his way to Tulsa.
    I suggest that it was likely that the hard-partying, undisciplined, faction of the group went after Wheeler on their own. It was a classic “frolic and detour”. It’s not surprising, however, that they were later made to clean up the mess they made.

    1. Patty: Martorano never met Connolly. He testified to that at Connolly’s trial. I stated that is what happened because the court’s decision suggested as much and I want to discuss the matter in the worst light for Connolly.

      I know Wyshak’s trick with the RICO conspiracy charge. The door is open to everything. Hearsay upon hearsay is welcome. It is a far cry from Wignore’s days.

      My take on the Wheeler killing is different than yours. I don’t see Callahan lining up with Halloran to do a hit and I don’t see Martorano partying with Halloran. It is quite simple what happened. Callahan and Martorano were friends; Callahan helped him while he was on the lam and was friendly with his brother. Callahan wanted Wheeler hit and he had Martorano as friend the guy who could do it and who did it. He paid him fifty grand for it. He may have and made some promises about Martorano getting a skim of proceeds but it certainly wasn’t to protect World Jai Alai (WJ) from the Mafia. Martorano may have told Flemmi about it though it is unlikely since he didn’t need his OK, just like he didn’t need anyone’s OK on all his previous murderes. He certainly didn’t tell Whitey since he hardly ever talked(maybe twice) with him on the phone for 16 years while hiding out.

      Callahan and Halloran hung around a bit. Halloran learned from Callahan he was trying to buy WJA. After the owner was killed and probably that Johnny was going to do the hit. Whitey and Stevie never met with Halloran to discuss it – he would have been the last person in the world they would plan to do a hit with. Halloran made up the meeting because he had to give the FBI something worthwhile to get into the witness protection program and the murder charge against him dismissed. Martorano – if you’ve read his book you’ll understand – knew he was vulnerable for the hit on Wheeler from one source, Callahan. Neither Whitey nor Stevie had any vulnerability since neither man dealt with Callahan over the hit. Why would they want to expose themselves to something Martorano already planned on doing even if they knew of Martorano’s plan. Martorano’s murder of Callahan was a foregone conclusion once he knew of the FBI investigation of him and learning that the deal to buy Jai Alai had fallen through.

  2. Capt. Drefuss had his final day in court, Connolly will get his as well. Drefuss had a powerful literary advocate in the person of the novelist Emile Zola. Zola’s fine prose kept Drefuss’ complex legal predicament clearly focused in the public mind. Perhaps, this blog can fill in for Zola by keeping public interest in Connoly’s case alive. Did the Forida Supremes hear the appeal embank, or, was the decision made by three judges? Where’s Connolly go from here? Does he get another bite at the apple?

  3. ugh!

    in other news
    Vincent Lisi has been found


    Boston FBI chief announces retirement
    Posted: Jul 30, 2015

    The head agent of Boston division of the FBI has announced he will retire at the end of August.

    Vincent B. Lisi has served as the Special Agent in Charge of the Boston office since July 2013 and has taken a job as a security director in the private sector, according to the FBI.

    Lisi has helped oversee many key investigations including inquiries that grew out of the Boston marathon bombing investigation and the Sinaloa drug cartel headed by Joaquin Guzman-Loera, known as “El Chapo.”

    Lisi, a Pittsburgh native, started as an F

    1. MS:

      Henry Ford created the Tin Lizzy where one car looked like every other with interchangeable parts. J. Edgar took it one step further, he let the outer appearance differ but made sure the inside mechanism was the same for everyone who rose to executive power in the Bureau. So whether it is Vincent Lisi or Lizzy Vincent the SAC operates in accordance with the programming done at the Seat of Government.

  4. Matt
    I suggested you break down each murder that Whitey Bulger is accused of doing and you decided you didnt have time to do that now. OK. I didnt mean in a response but doing a series from Murder 1 to Murder 19. It seems that is beyond the focus and scope of the blog and instead we will jump around from murder to murder which is still insightful.

    My question, and you addressed it somewhat in the two posts on John Connolly is HOW in the world would we KNOW that Whitey Bulger murdered anyone when the only evidence is testimony form men we are “assuming” to be lying during testifying (Martorano/Flemmi/Weeks). Originally I thought that the 3 amigos MUST be telling the truth for fear of being jailed and losing their deals because of perjury. But as you explained, the 3 amigos could lie to the Feds and then repeat those lies to a court.

    Am I correct in concluding that Whitey Bulger was convicted on 11 of 19 murder charges ONLY because of sworn testimony by the 3 amigos? The reason I am asking you is because you bring up motive and circumstantial evidence. I am curious who you strongly think Bulger murdered. I know you dont think he murdered the 2 Debbies and its questionable he murdered McIntyre. Amazingly Pat Nee seems to fly under the radar regarding a lot of these murders.

    I am re-reading DEADLY ALLIANCE with a different perspective thanks to you and all the other commenters.

    1. Jerome:

      When reading Deadly Alliance remember that author also fed from the same trough as the others.

      1. Matt
        OK. Who do you strongly believe Whitey Bulger did murder? Just names. Not seeking explanations in the comment section. Are you confident that you can seperate the facts from lies that came out of Flemmi/Weeks/Martorao testimony?

  5. Matt – On 3.4.08 the Globe reported in. re: US appeal in McIntyre case: “He’s a traitor to the FBI,” Justice Department lawyer Thomas M. Bondy said during arguments before the US Court of Appeals for the First Circuit. “This guy crossed to the other side. He was a criminal who had a day job as a Federal Agent”…..Bondy asked that the judgment be set aside because Connolly, who allegedly pocketed more than $200,000 in bribes form Bulger and Flemmi while serving as their handler, was not acting within the scope of his job as a federal agent when he leaked informaton that resulted in McIntyre’s slaying”….
    Perhaps, Matt, Connolly was in fact what Bondy says he was and there is proof of this but no one wants it public…then what you say has merit…the Court’s have tried him for the ‘rest of the story’…and the ‘rest of the story’ would fit my fact set…

    1. Jean:

      If the federals had anything on Connolly they would make it public. The so called “more than $200.000 is from the mouths of gangsters who were getting a deal to implicate Connolly. He was never charged by anyone with taking money. He was charged with getting a diamond ring from Whitey and a jury found that was not proven. Connolly was told by the FBI to handle Bulger and Flemmi – that is what he did – as part of that it was to protect them so they would remain on the street – it was only when the public realized that the FBI had such a program that they threw Connolly to the wolves and continued with the program.

  6. ” sad, sad, sad” Elbows Wychulis muttered under
    his Mesothelioma breath.

    What in gods name is it going to
    take to get ” gotcha journalism Connolly”
    to rename his FBI Smog Blog
    Trekking Toward Solutions?

    “He still does not get it that Trekking Towards The Truth
    has become nothing more than a ‘ psychological soup
    kitchen’ for the DOJ opressed!”

    in other news

    in other news


    What Involvement Did a FBI Agent and His Sons Have in the Death of
    Kendrick Johnson? Feds Want to Know
    July 24, 2015 |
    There are new developments in the case of Kendrick Johnson, a
    17-year-old Black student found dead in a school gym in Lowndes
    County, Ga. in 2013.

    also see

    FBI’s Key West Counterterrorism Sting Target “A Little Slow”
    Trevor Aaronson

    July 29 2015, 3:49 p.m.


    The news spread quickly when federal prosecutors announced on Tuesday
    night that FBI agents had foiled an Islamic State-linked plot to bomb
    a beach

    1. MS:

      So the beat goes on with them giving the guy the bomb to bomb the beach and arresting him before he can do anything with the bomb that would not explode. Its act is getting old.

  7. If you do not believe the facts presented to the Juries in these cases as perhaps these being the product of highly coached and compromised witnesses then … stop rehashing the legal illogicallity of the Connolly case. It is moot. It is academic. The Takeaway is that FSC was not going to let him out, and to characterize 144 pages as what you may consider legal sophistries as ” obtuseness ” is a rich jab from a fellow lawyer to his FLA counterparts.

    In THE HUSTLER, pool shark Minnesota Fats played by Jackie Gleason, plays the Paul Newman played Cincinnati Kid a grueling all night continuing point contest in the penultimate scene. At dawn, Minnesota takes a break, goes to men’s room, and simply carefully and meticulously washes his hands and face and adjusts his tie. He emerges … psychologically and spiritually if you will as A NEW MAN. He short order beats Cincinnati. All subscribers to stale, manufactured, invented, incredible, and ” sloppy, sloppy, sloppy ” explanatory facts in these cases ; that rest each upon the other again, like A HOUSE OF CARDS, should perform similar ablutions. IS YOUR BRAIN OPEN? as off charts genius mathematician Paul Erddd would ask his friend at 4 a.m. after manically prowling their shared college advisers’ hallway. We will see.

    P.S. Morley Safer was doing a 60 MINUTES on Jackie Gleason back in the day. ” Why do they call you THE GREATEST ” asked a clearly charmed Safer. Jackie looked at him, smiled that beautiful Irish smile, chalked, shook out his Cue, Diamonds sparked on fingers and said …. ” WELL YOU JUST SAW ME SHOOT POOL DIDN’T YOU !!! ” .

  8. Hi Matt,
    Yes, by the rules of the Court, no doubt all you say is true. But, I question the rules. Have they gone too far? Are they manipulated to fit when there is a determination to convict? Are they unjust at times?
    If you go back to the beginning in Connolly’s case, the question is: was he even involved in the Callahan murder? You state: ‘Connolly met with Martorano, Bulger and Flemmi a few times. He told them they had to murder Callahan or else they would all go to prison. At those times he met he was wearing his FBI gun. Three weeks after his last meeting Martorano shot Callahan in the head in Fort Lauderdale. Florida.’
    Connolly is said to be involved in the murder by the testimony of Martorano and Flemmi. And, we believe them? Why?
    Consider the Wheeler and Callahan murders. Sloppy, sloppy, sloppy! Bulger was too smart for the sloppiness shown in those murders. We know for a fact that Martorano did it. And, Martorano says Bulger and Connolly were involved and receives a ‘get out of jail’ card. Flemmi admits that he sent the guns for the Wheeler murder — on a Grey Hound bus. (Do you really think Bulger would be so stupid as to send them on a bus?) Flemmi swears up and down that Bulger and Connolly were part of it, and gets his money back (millions of dollars), and in all likelihood is a free man today, perhaps even living in your neighborhood (sex offenders are identified, but not murderers!).
    What if, just what if, Martorano and Flemmi are lying? Take away their testimony (and that of other ‘paid’ witnesses) and what remains? What if Bulger and Connolly had nothing to do with these murders? Certainly the witnesses that place them in the crime are not credible — in fact, they’re INCREDIBLE! But, the court accepted the testimony.
    As for the Court being unjust: it’s shocking to me that when Connolly’s lawyer screwed up by not filing the right motion within the 10 day window of time, that Connolly suffers because of the lawyer’s incompetency! There should be some recourse within the system. Of course, that’s part of what the appeal process is about — a long, expensive process, which most citizens cannot endure or afford.
    The bottom line in the Connolly conviction and incarceration is: if the Feds want you to rot in prison; that’s where you’ll rot.

    1. Janet:

      I did not say that I believed Connolly met with the gangsters and told them to kill Callahan, I said those were the facts the Appeals Court had to deal with. On appeal, the court must examine the evidence in the light most favorable to the state. Martorano and Flemmi testified that Connolly said that so the court had to deal with that.

      I have written before that Martorano needed no one to tell him that he had to murder Callahan once he learned that the cops were looking at him. Of course Martorano and Flemmi are lying. They are following the script the prosecution team believes is correct not the truth.

      The jury, not the appeals court, believed the criminal witnesses. The appeals court had no choice but to follow the evidence the jury believed. It cannot retry the facts itself. The point of my post is even assuming Connolly did everything bad that has been ascribed to him, the Appeal Court was wrong in its interpretation of the law as it applied to the weapons charge.

      I will deal later with the incredible testimony that the jury believed and with the idea that Connolly did something wrong considering he was dealing with his informants. Stay tuned. But don’t think for one minute that I believe the facts the jury believed and the appeals court had to deal with.

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