Whitey Bulger’s Defense Looks More And More Like a Lewis Carroll Novel.

A Florida Morning

If ever there was as strange case it is the case of the United States v. James “Whitey” Bulger. An example of this is what happened yesterday in court. Judge Stearns held a hearing on the prosecutors motion to keep evidence of Whitey having carte blanche authorization to murder whomever he wishes from the ears of the jurors.

Judge Stearns is trying to move the case along in preparation for the June trial date yet he may not be the judge who will sit at the trial. Whether he does or not is up to the distinguished panel in the Court of Appeals consisting of its chief justice, a former Supreme Court justice and its most senior justice who have been unable to decide this simple issue in well over a month since it was argued. I naively expected a week would be sufficient to make a decision. I thought that because it is the most watched case in the United States today; two or more books adding to several others have just come out discussing the case in time to prejudice the defense; Judge Stearns was part of the US attorneys office, in a leadership position, during the time Whitey ran his organization and while his office was conducting a lengthy wiretap investigation aimed at Whitey; the courtroom is jammed to the rafters every time a hearing is conducted; all of which seemed to cry out that under this intense spotlight there should not be the slightest question of a judge’s impartiality so Judge Stearns should be told to step aside.

Yet while the great minds ponder this obvious issue —  that they are taking so long tells us much about what happened to our federal judicial system — Judge Stearns has no choice but to act as if he will be handling the case. But it all seems so odd a judge deciding an issue in such a high-profile case that affects him and his friends, even if indirectly. And, one must remember, Judge Harrington was asked to step down in this case by the same prosecutors when he was in the almost exact situation as Judge Stearns. All of which further adds to the sense that not all is well on the Boston waterfront.

That’s strange but things are stranger still when I read about what happened in court yesterday. It went as I predicted. I read one report indicating that it was a rather dry hearing with nothing new happening. Apparently Whitey’s lawyer J.W.Carney was allowed to skate through the hearing without any discussion of the elephant in the room: Whitey’s claim he was not an informant. I’d have thought that Judge Stearns would have been all over that especially since it was raised in the prosecution’s submission for a hearing. I may be wrong but everything I read indicated it did not come up until after the hearing when  Carney was standing in front of the media.

Shouldn’t the following most basic question have been asked by the judge in order to make a decision on the motion, “Mr. Carney, you are asserting Whitey Bulger was not an informant.  You are also suggesting that US Attorney O’Sullivan gave him a ‘get away with murder free’ card. I have to understand what Whitey did for O’Sullivan to get one? Can you tell me?”

Judges aren’t potted plants — yet it seems the most fundamental things are not being done in this case. Thus we are left with a spectacle that we saw yesterday where Carney is claiming in front of the media, not the court, Whitey is not an informant, that he was granted the free unlimited murder pass but suggests he won’t tell us why this was done until the trial starts.

If you’ve been with me for a bit we know that Whitey was an informant and that Whitey did not have immunity. What we have to do now is to try to figure out what’s Carney’s game plan. Think! What is it that Carney can allege Whitey did for O’Sullivan that would justify O’Sullivan giving him immunity. Carney’s too smart of a lawyer not to have something up his sleeve, no matter how transparent.

It can’t be that Whitey paid O’Sullivan or had some juicy information he knew about him so he was able to extort an immunity from him. That would make the immunity void from the beginning. So Carney won’t go with that. What then is left.

I can only thing of one thing. Here’s what Carney will tell us:

Imprisoned FBI Agent Connolly and O’Sullivan had a meeting with Whitey in 1977 around Christmas in a hotel room. In 1977 Whitey is still a relatively unknown figure and a much lesser criminal than his fellow Winter Hill gang members. But O’Sullivan knows from Anthony “Fat Tony” Ciulla who became a federal witness in early 1977 that Whitey was well situated inside that group. Fat Tony would later testify in the race fixing case that: “The intermediaries were from the Boston area, fellows that were partners of mine. One’s name is Howie Winters.(sic) One name is John Martorano M-A-R-T-O-R-A-N-O, James Martorano, Whitey Bulger, William Barnoski, Stephen Flemmi, Joseph McDonald,James Sims, Neddie Raife, Salvatore Sperlinga.” 

When they met Whitey tells him, despite what the FBI files indicate, he is not going to inform an anyone. O’Sullivan said he doesn’t need information but wants something more important. He wants Whitey to give him a heads up if hears of any law enforcement officer being in  danger. O’Sullivan told him how important it is to him that none of the FBI agents or other cops be killed for doing their jobs. Whitey asked, “What’s in it for me?” O’Sullivan replied: “You agree to save law enforcement lives, I’ll give you immunity for any crime you may commit.” Whitey replied, “Any crime at all.” O’Sullivan said, “Absolutely.”  We know that Agent Connolly has alleged that after that Whitey saved the lives of two FBI agents, Gianturco and Butchka.

Now that the case is spinning into the world of fantasy, that’s about the best fairy tale I can spin out.  Any other suggestions would be appreciated.

9 thoughts on “Whitey Bulger’s Defense Looks More And More Like a Lewis Carroll Novel.

  1. Matt- great perspective on this blog today, i love the take on how it could possibly be that Whitey boy is not an informant on anyone yet he has carte blanche to commit the most heinous atrocities under his grip on Boston’s underworld from lets say 1980-1994.
    ok, so i think your explination of how Carney is going to finagle out of this posistion is dead on – i dont think he has any other reason or case to make on how this could be possible, if at all. He needs proof plain and simple and he doesnt have it but again, i find it hard to believe Whitey would not get every little smige of any sort of proof that he had immunity via O’Sullivan it just goes against everything i have ever read on Whitey – thinking 25 steps in advance and always, always protecting himself at any cost…… soooooo, i think it is clear to us that he in fact, has no leg to stand on for this case.
    Now, let me ask you something – Was O’Sullivan a “good ole boy” from Southie as was Connolly? If he was, maybe there was some connection from that? Like Whitey had with Connolly, you know? Could that have been just implied that he had immunity through a “verbal” commitment from O’Sullivan? Nothing was written down, but from Whitey’s point of view, it didnt have to be written down to be taken as fact (he was just talking amonst friends, right?) Now, you mentioned that Connolly would then go back to his office after a meeting he had with Whitey and Stevie or whoever and would write things down, unbeknownst to the gangsters. So the “word of mouth” deals and exchanges were seen as ok and commonplace – only from one side though…. I am simply wondering if there was some Southie, Irish connection between O’Sullivan and Bulger because that could shed some small drop of light on this relationship. Unfortunatley for Mr. Bulger, it wont mean a thing for his freedom.
    Thanks as always Matt.

    1. SJM:
      I think you put it well = Whitey “has no leg to stand on.”
      O’Sullivan was far from one of the Southie good old boys. He was more “lace curtain” if you know what I mean, not a hang around type of back slapper. I knew him professionally. I felt he was a capable guy (not in the mobster sense) and handled some significant cases and did a good job on them against some formidable opponents. I lost respect for him because of matters in the MA State Trooper John Naimovich case. But he was as straight as they came except he seemed to have been intimidated by the FBI like the present US Attorney in Boston. He was too much under the control of the cops and that probably accounted for his actions against Naimovich. I would say except for that flaw, he was a good straight laced prosecutor who wouldn’t in a million years ever tell a guy he could kill someone or even think he had the right to give some type of informal immunity. From what I see he’d have had nothing to do with Whitey or for that matter Connolly.
      I went to the Congressional hearing and found this exchange between him and Congressman Burton. This took place in 2002. O’Sullivan was scheduled to testify before Judge Wolf in late 1997 or early 1998 and he had a stroke and heart attack. I think it may have affected some of his testimony in front of those Congressmen who were in the process of rewriting history. Anyway, that also is another story but here’s what I found”
      Congressman Burton asks O’Sullivan to describe Connolly, Rico and Condon. O’Sullivn replied: “I never worked with Rico. I never saw him. I very rarely worked with Condon. I very rarely worked with Connelly since he wasn’t a case agent. He was developing informants.”
      Burton: “So you wanted to get rid of him?” (Earlier O’Sullivan said he had asked the FBI to remove Connolly because some of the other representative from other agencies didn’t trust him.)
      O’Sullivan: “I did.”
      Burton: “Even though you didn’t work with him?
      O’Sullivan: “He was a Strike Force rep. All the agencies get to develop somebody who is the liason between that agency and the Strike Force. I asked the fBI to remove him as the Strike Force rep.”
      Burton: “And explain to me why.
      O’Sullivan: “I didn’t trust him.”
      Burton: “Well — you didn’t trust him because?
      O’Sullivan: “I didn’t trust him because of his relationship with his informants.
      Burton: “And his informants were?”
      O’Sullivan: “Bulger and Flemmi”

      I guess that pretty much blows out of the water the idea O’Sullivan had a side deal with Whitey. When I read T.J. English’s article in which Connolly first mentioned a meeting between O’Sullivan and Whitey I assumed they were somehow working through their lawyers to come up with a common defense: Whitey would say Connolly never tipped him off about the indictments, Connolly would thrown O’Sullivan in to help Whitey claim immunity. Perhaps that happened but now Whitey has thrown Connolly to the wolves.

      I do remember though that in the fall of 1979 Pope John Paul II visited Boston. I happened to be standing over at Carson
      Beach near Columbia (Kosciusko) Circle in South Boston and waved to him as he sped by. Maybe we’ll hear from Whitey that he was speeding to a meeting with him and during that meeting he got a papal dispensation to commit murders. I’m not sure that will carry over to the secular side but if anyone can find precedence for it, J. W. Carney will do it.

  2. Matt – that was really funny about the Pope….. Now that would be entertainment! What will they think of next?!?!
    If O’Sullivan never had any authority to give anyone immunity, why wouldnt Judge Stearns just throw that out the window as a defense?
    Why would he allow this to drag on if that would never even hold up in court?
    just curious….
    Thanks!

  3. Matt, O’Sullivan says he didn’t trust Connolly because he didn’t trust Bulger and Flemmi, yet he let B and F walk in 1980 during the race track indictment.
    Whitey’s defense may be that the Feds sujected him to CIA sponsored LSD experiments (mega doses) while he was in prison, and the Feds (CIA)promised: 1. He’d get out of prison early (which he did) and 2. he’d get immunity for future crimes (a type of insanity defense.) O’Sullivan’s role may be that he confirmed that was the deal. In fact, when O’Sullivan gave Bulger a pass in the race-fixing case, that will be offered as confirmation that O’Sullivan knew what the deal was. Bulger will need Connolly to verify that they met with O’Sullivan. If Connolly won’t testify,Bulger’s lawyers may introduce 209s or other federal documents kept in the regular course of business confirming that meeting took place. I’ll take a wait and see attitude about whom Bulger and Carney will throw to the wolves.
    My questions: Where was O’Sullivan born; where did he grow up; where did he go to college and law school?

    1. Bill:
      O’Sullivan was talking about Connolly being on the OCEDFT which is the task force of all the federal agencies. That was probably around 1988 or 1989. If Whitey uses the CIA defense he’s out of luck, it can’t give immunity. It has to come from a federal prosecutor. But really no one gave Whitey immunity. I explained a while ago that Flemmi’s position was that he had immunity from Connolly which Wolf was buying but the Court of Appeals slammed that door close saying an FBI agent can’t give immunity. So Whitey had to bring in an AUSA and the only one who had died was O’Sullivan.
      You’d think Bulger would need Connolly as a witness. But the federal rules of evidence on hearsay are so loose perhaps Whitey will call you as a witness and you can testify you read in an article that Connolly said he and Whitey met with O’Sullivan. That would pretty much be the same thing as Martorano saying Whitey said Connolly said Billy said “take care of Whitey.” There are no 209s about the meetings. That’s one of Connolly’s problems, he didn’t file 209s when he was with Whitey. None of their dinners are reported on 209s.
      You can wait an see who they throw to the wolves but from my vantage point they’re new, new defense has to be that they paid off Connolly. What was Connolly doing hanging around with Whitey all the time if Whitey was not an informant, as Whitey alleges.
      According to his obit: “O’Sullivan grew up in North Cambridge and graduated from Boston College High School. He received his undergraduate degree from Boston College and a law degree from Georgetown University. As a boy, Mr. O’Sullivan severely broke his arm when he fell from a chestnut tree along Brattle Street, according to his brother Stephen. The compound fracture became infected, leaving Mr. O’Sullivan with a scarred arm that stopped growing. The injury restricted his sports activities and led him to spend long hours surrounded by books and intellectual pursuits, his family said”
      I’ve said I always though I always thought of him as an honest and upright prosecutor except for the Naimovich matter. He was known as a straight arrow and a formidable prosecutor.

  4. Matt, I have another question. I know this wouldn’t apply to the Whitey case but yesterday I heard about “Trial by Judge” instead of jury. I’m wondering what you think about this since I know in the past you have stated your believe in jurors “getting it right” most of the time. I had never heard of “Trial by Judge” before??

    1. Question:
      A person can waive a jury under some circumstance and have the judge try the case. In MA that can be done for any case except 1st degree murder. I’m not sure how it works in federal court.

      Sometimes a lawyer will think a judge will be more sympathetic to his cause than a jury and will waive the jury. I tried a 2nd degree murder case, the mother murdered her only daughter. The defense was insanity. Her lawyer thought best to be tried by a judge believing, rightly so, that the judge would be more apt to find not guilty by reason of insanity which she did.

      In the Boston terrorist case I’m not so sure they’ll give the kid who set off the bomb a trial. We’ll have to see. They might just want to ship him out to Guantanamo if taken alive.

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