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.