Whitey Bulger’s Prosecutors Dilemma: Using Paid Liars As Witnesses

Reading the recent filing by Whitey’s lawyer’s J.W. Carney and Hank Brennan I see that some of the questions that have puzzled me which are being discussed between persons who have commented at my blog home site and myself are being brought forth for discussion and resolution.
These questions relate to prosecutors, the payments they give to their witnesses to testify, and to their knowledge of the truthfulness of their testimony.

The prosecutors sit down with gangsters they jam in like Weeks, Flemmi, Morris or Salemme and say we’d like you to give us information on someone, in this case it was Whitey Bulger. The gangster will say “what will you give me?”  The prosecutors respond, “tell me what you have on Whitey and we’ll see what we can do.” Obviously the better the information the better the deal. The gangster then gives the information in what is called a proffer. Then the bargaining begins. The more the gangster offers the more the prosecution will do for him. Some bargaining takes quite a while  It took a year before the prosecutors could come up with enough goodies to get information from Murderman Martorano.

One problem the prosecutors have is they are dealing with gangsters who are liars by nature and are not constrained by any morality to do anything other than what benefits them. If you can shoot someone in the head what can’t you do? Some ask how can you deal with a person like that under any circumstance. Others suggest that putting liars on the witness stand knowing they have or will lie is offering perjured testimony.
Prosecutors may have the right to use paid witnesses, but they do not have the right to use witnesses who perjure themselves. Here’s the prosecutor’s dilemma. May a prosecutor use a witness that will lie about some things but not others.
It reminds me of the conundrum I faced as a Catholic kid. In CCD the nun drew a big circle on the blackboard. She said that’s what my soul looked like. Then she took a piece of white chalk and made little ½ inch marks in the inside of the circle. These were venial sins, she’d say. She’d go on and on with these marks but there always remained a good deal of black. Then she’d turn the chalk on its side and in a few seconds would have obliterated all the black. She’d explain that was just one mortal sin. It was worse than millions of venial sins.
My question is are there venial perjuries that a prosecutor can overlook that make it okay for him to allow a witness to testify (or if during his testimony he tells venial perjuries to allow him to continue to testify). I think we can agree that mortal perjuries are disqualifiers. In my Catholic catechism I had lists of what were venial and mortal sins to refer to. I don’t think the prosecutors  have such a manual so we’re trying to figure out what standard is used.
Take Kevin Brutalman Weeks who goes around intriguing and exciting  suburban audiences with his tales of murder and beating up people. It is apparent he lied at the Connolly trial in Boston. He said when he teamed up with Bulger and another person to kill Brian Halloran and Michael Donohue, he didn’t know the other person. Obviously you don’t go to a murder with a stranger so the other person is someone who is alive and who he is covering up for. He said the other person wore a ski mask but witnesses suggest that is a lie. Is it all right for  prosecutors to let Weeks tell that lie if they believes other parts of his story?  It’s obviously perjury, lying under oath, but is it venial perjury that doesn’t blacken the case.
Then there’s Murderman Martorano who wrote a book bragging about how he courageously murdered twenty unarmed people. I learned from defense counsel’s filing that Murderman got  a bonus of twenty thousand dollars from us taxpayers when he was released from prison.  It’ s not enough that he only did six month in jail for each murder, they gave him a $1,000 for each of the people he murdered. $20,000 as a tip. I didn’t read about that in his book.
Is it only a venial perjury for Murderman not to tell of all the inducements he got for his testimony like this promised bonus? Or, as I noted in my book Don’t Embarrass The Family, that when he came to testify against Connolly he didn’t have the prison pallor usually associated with murderers doing prison time.  I said he had “a bishop’s belly” showing he’s had a top-notch meal plan. He seemed well rested and tanned. Isn’t that an inducement to a murderer that he’ll be treated well in prison? Is it a venial perjury to leave that out? What if he lies about how he killed people? He’s told different stories about killing Tony Veranis. Each one though has Tony pulling a gun on him, but as Murderman bragged, he was faster. The only problem is the autopsy showed Tony was shot in the back of the head.  That a venial or mortal perjury.
I’ve read where one person has pointed out that all the testimony about Whitey Bulger has been purchased. I pointed out that the only people who can purchase testimony are prosecutors. In my book I note that because a prosecutor is allowed to do this he or she has to be under a higher obligation to ensure that the paid witness does not lie or skirt around the truth. If you read the book you’d see an aspect of the Connolly trial that I found very strange was that the prosecutors were allowed to ask leading questions on direct examination (questions that require just a yes or no answer and suggest the answer) while on cross-examination it would have been easier to find a flea on a buffalo than to get a direct response from the gangster witnesses.
When Murderman testified at FBI Agent John Connolly’s trial he didn’t mention as he did in his book how he pulled a fast one with the help of the government. They schemed to justify the great deal he received by saying he would testify against a group of guys from Southie he didn’t even know. Is it important to know that Murderman and the feds came up with a plan to deceive the public? If they were scheming to do one thing, were they scheming to do others?
The filing by Whitey’s defense team suggests he received a lot more from the government that we still have no idea about. Tomorrow I’ll tell you what the defense counsel are still looking for in this area and how they are suggesting it is not far-fetched to believe the government allows people to get away with murdering other people.

4 thoughts on “Whitey Bulger’s Prosecutors Dilemma: Using Paid Liars As Witnesses

  1. Officious intermeddling is a tort, not a crime. Writing a letter, regardless of how factually false, is a free speech exercise. Defaming a police officer in a letter is a tort not a crime. How many people get ten years in jail for writing a letter?
    There’s no mystery why Connolly’s lawyers advised him not to take the stand. Whatever Connolly said under oath, regardless of how true, the Wyshak/Durham team would have dragged out one their seven serial killers, Salemme, Flemmi, Martorano, etc., to contradict it and Connolly would have been indicted for perjury.
    Remember, in 1998, when Wolfe was making findings of fact that 18 FBI agents violated rules, regulations, policies and statutes, Wyshak was supposed to be defending the FBI agents. He didn’t do such a good job, did he? The question is why didn’t he? Was he aware that his fellow prosecutors were seeking indictments before grand juries against one or more of these same FBI agents?

    1. Officious intermeddling is also just that. Free speech does not mean there are no wrongful consequences which might follow from its exercise. You can write a letter to the president telling him you are planning to kill him but don’t be surprised if you’re hauled into court and charged with a serious crime and get ten years plus for that little exercise of free speech. You can call your local city hall and tell them there’s a bomb in the mayor’s office but you won’t be walking along a free person for too long. The argument that free speech means you can do anything you want even write letters trying to undermine a serious case against top gangsters which causes the case to go off on a side track and suggest nothing should happen to the writer I can’t accept.
      How could Connolly have been any worse off if he took the stand? I don’t buy it was fear of perjury. If he felt he did nothing wrong no matter what the government would do to him he should have told his side of the story. I don’t see that it would look too good that he was chumming around with Weeks and helping out Flemmi. Maybe that was why he sat on his rights not to testify.
      I don’t think Wyshak was ever defending FBI agents in front of Wolf. That was not his job. He was trying to prevent the RICO indictments from being thrown out in the face of Flemmi’s claim that he had the right to commit the crimes and the claims of the other hoodlums that they were charged with conspired with Flemmi who was a federal agent which means their cases also must be thrown out. Wyshak, as I understand it, did not use FBI agents for his backup in some of those cases. They worked with Durham but I’m not sure that they did with Wyshak.
      Did he know John Durham was bringing charges against John Connolly? I’m sure he did.

  2. Venial vs Moral Sins

    When Wyshak suborned perjury from Weeks in John Connolly’s trial it was a moral perjury. The substance of Wyshak’s perjury (Wyshak presented it so he owns it) obscured the identity of a murderer for the purpose of keeping this murderer free in society. Wyshak’s perjury has, therefore, endangered any and all in society who might be perceived to cross him (you and I certainly qualify).

    In a cost benefit analysis, the costs to society of Wyshak’s perjury are greater than just endangering the entire public by protecting a murderer. The cost of Wyshak’s perjury includes obliterating any confidence society might have in the US Attorney’s Office and even the federal judiciary in Boston. If such perjury is permissible in Connolly’s case, we can have no confidence in any conviction or ruling from that court. The noble idea that we are a nation of laws suffers.

    There is no justifiable benefit to anyone, besides the man who murdered at least five people, by allowing Wyshak to defraud the court and jury with perjury on a material fact. It does go a long way, however, to support Wyshak’s self-serving fiction that all crime was committed by Bulger and all federal law enforcement misconduct was committed by the defendant, John Connolly (the “Rogue Agent Theory”).

    What about John Connolly’s actions after he retired and Flemmi and Bulger were indicted? Were John’s crimes venial or moral? It’s pretty clear he was fighting fire with fire. His venial transgressions acts were merely designed to right the moral wrongs that the likes of Wyshak were perpetrating by violating the agreements the government had with their informants. Wyshak’s perjury is far worse than John sending a phony letter alerting the court that an obsessive witness was unreliable.

    1. Interesting comments as usual which provide food for thought.
      I only know about Weeks’s testimony in the Boston case and that was John H. Durham’s call. (If it was the same testimony in Florida as in Boston then your analysis is correct.) Durham by the way despite his statement that there would be more happening in the investigation of the FBI’s office in Boston never did anything again. In 2006 he was appointed by Michael B. Mukasey, President George W. Bush’s last attorney general, to look into the C.I.A.’s destruction of 92 videotapes of secret interrogations of Al Qaeda suspects in 2002. No charges followed. (http://topics.nytimes.com/top/reference/timestopics/people/d/john_durham/index.html) He was then assigned by Holder in 2009 to inquiries to include possible mistreatment (torture) of prisoners. Holder said that a two-year review by Mr. Durham had determined that any further investigation into that large group of cases “is not warranted.” Strangely, Durham hasn’t found any criminal activity since Connolly.

      You point up the downside to all these deals. Brutalman, Murderman, Nee and others who are given deals are out on the street. They present a threat to all of us, especially those who cross them, and are fully capable of killing anyone they dislike. It is compounded by their friendship with the prosecutors and investigators who are indebted to them and feel obliged to protect them and must overlook their criminal actions. You get a pass since you write anonymously. I’m someone they have no reason to be fond of. Just the realization that members of the public are in the position of standing endangered by the actions of the government makes the governments deals with them questionable. Especially the inaction toward Nee, if he is the shooter with Whitey, since he had given the government nothing that we know of, what would require such a hands off attitude. Fortunately, Carney is forcing the issue so we may get more clarity on it.

      I would not say Wyshak committed perjury. However I would like to know how he justifies allowing Weeks to cover up his knowledge by telling the ski mask story. Is it possible he believes it and thinks the other eyewitnesses are lying? Perhaps he believes it is a venial perjury and something not to worry about. I would disagree with his conclusion there because it is not a venial act by a prosecutor giving a person a pass on one murder. Maybe Wyshak believes his witnesses can lie except on material matters and he considers this to be non material. I’m giving him the benefit of the doubt and await his answer to Carney. I’m working through all this stuff because I don’t see Wyshak doing anything untoward but then you point to the USA Today study.

      John Connolly’s actions that he was convicted of were non violent actions. The letter to the court in an attempt to have a case thrown out against several gangsters is a high crime in my mind. I don’t minimize it. I can’t understand his association with Weeks and Flemmi especially having Flemmi perjure himself. At that time he was not fighting fire with fire. He had become an officious intermeddler. I also don’t understand why he has never gone under oath and testified in his own behalf. Whitey needs him now to say O’Sullivan gave him immunity. Will he take the stand at last? It remains to be seen.

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