WHITEY: The Joe Berlinger Documentary Film: Two Men Painting False Pictures

IMG_2796When Lehr mentioned that Whitey’s brother Billy was Senate President and Prosecutor Brian Kelly said that “no matter how politically connected one is” and you add into that Defense Lawyer Hank Brennan’s observation that Whitey ruled the organize crime world for twenty-five years without even being charged with a misdemeanor, the conclusion an impartial viewer would come up with is that there had to be some relationship between Billy’s position and Whitey’s immunity.

That falsehood is firmly believed by two other people who wrote books about these matters who also appeared in the documentary. Both are law enforcement officers. Both point to themselves as white knights who were in part responsible for thwarting Whitey’s rule.

The first is the former Colonel on the Massachusetts State Police Thomas Foley. In the film he tells us that the Department of Justice was not going to do anything about Whitey until he threatened them to go public. I am sure you believe that when this sergeant or lieutenant on the State Police did this their knees trembled and they quickly fell in line.

He tells us that many in the U.S. Attorney’s office “were in denial.” He tells how when the arrest warrants came out the State Police arrested Flemmi and Martorano. He suggests FBI deliberately let Bulger get away.

Foley has a grandiose idea of himself. He has brought into the idea, which the film promotes, of a corrupt FBI and Department of Justice. He presents himself as the one unsoiled person seeking justice while the forces of evil oppose him. This idea of corruption, corruption, everywhere, similar to that of another white knight, Alan Dershowitz, (although he’s not so white anymore) makes him wrongly slander many others.

In his book “Most Wanted” he tells how he decided to go after Whitey. He presents what he plans to do which is to start wiretaps at the lower level bookies and move up to the bosses as something novel. It wasn’t. The State Police and others had been doing it for over a decade before he decided to try it.

He tells the story of going to Tom Reilly the DA in Middlesex County before doing his wiretaps. He said he did this because the DA will “kick in some funding” and “help you with the legal stuff for court later on.

Strangely, Foley omits the real reason why he went to see Reilly. He needed to get his authorization for the wiretap. The wiretaps by law must be done under DA supervision. Foley shows a great misunderstanding in this because the state police have no right to do wiretaps unless the DA authorizes and supervises them. 

Foley tells us Reilly gave him the OK. He then writes: “Even with” – I paused, trying to find the right word – “the politics?” ­I meant Billy Bulger, of course. He had a hand in Reilly’s budget, as well as in the State Police’s, Everybody knew: don’t cross Billy.”

What pure tripe and Foley knew it. No DA ever worried about going after Whitey because of Billy. I’ve mentioned how I was doing it continually. No state cop ever worried about it. Foley along with the FBI back in 1987 hindered us in going after Whitey. He wrongly investigated a trooper doing a wiretap with me which may have led to Whitey.

Here’s what Foley omits. Another person who appeared in the film, Lieutenant Bobby Long of the State Police, unlike Foley a real state police organize crime investigator, who spent over six months going after Whitey doing the Lancaster Street investigation. He worked closely with Colonel John “Jack” “OD” O’Donovan who also had no compulsion in going after Whitey. Charlie Henderson who would also become a colonel in the State Police  would also have taken Whitey down in a heartbeat if he had the chance. The idea that the DAs or any State Police trooper feared going after Whitey because they didn’t want to cross Billy is an outrageous slander upon all of them.

The other person is former FBI agent Robert Fitzpatrick. In the film he tells how he tried to get Brian Halloran into the witness protection program because he was giving the federal prosecutors evidence of murders by Whitey and Stevie. He tells us AUSA O’Sullivan turned him down and how he went over the head of O’Sullivan to Bill Weld the then U.S. Attorney in Boston.

Dave Boeri had previously told us that Halloran had his own problems having murdered a drug dealer and he wanted to make a deal by implicating Bulger and Flemmi in the plot to murder Roger Wheeler.  What Fitzpatrick fails to tell us is that O’Sullivan and others did not believe what Halloran was spinning out. They also knew that the Suffolk ADA Tom Mundy was not about to let Halloran off the hook for the Pappas murder. It would turn out Halloran had made up a story about Whitey and Stevie that would never have resulted in a conviction. Fitzpatrick was selling a pig in a poke.

Worse is Fitzpatrick’s book where he tells of a meeting with Billy Bulger which was arranged by John Connolly. He said Billy “couldn’t have been warmer or more gregarious.” Billy treated him nicely as he did all the FBI bosses who wanted an introduction to him. This is common throughout our country where the FBI agents in charge and their assistants try to have friendly relations with political leaders.

Fitzpatrick wrote “we exchanged small talk, but nothing of substance .The subject of his brother never came up, and I didn’t expect it would. Twenty minutes into the conversation Billy started checking his watch . . . [a]nd, like a dog on  leash, Connolly rose on cue.” He shook hands with Billy who said: “Anything I can do for you while you are in town just call.”

Then astonishingly out of the blue he writes that walking back to his office Connolly has a “smug look on his face the whole time, as if his point had been made: Whitey Bulger was not a man to be messed with . . . . “ He goes on to say: “Billy Bulger was a bully using power in place of fists. And he wanted me to know I was alone, helpless against powerful forces I could neither control nor fully comprehend.”

He writes as if he was forced to meet with him which he wasn’t and that Billy had some type of water board machine in his office. You see how the defamation of Billy goes on and on by people who should know better. They have no basis for their assertions. They want to be part of the in-crowd. They are anxious to play into the theme set by the earlier writers who wrote with poisoned pens as is the documentary.

11 thoughts on “WHITEY: The Joe Berlinger Documentary Film: Two Men Painting False Pictures

  1. Matt and The Crew – Don’t feel as confident anymore about what has been going on with the mass shootings of soft targets San Bernadino being the most recent one, I really feel for these 31 combined families 14 dead 17 wounded. It makes me think that more of these things are going to keep happening in our country. Tonight i heard someone on Cnn refer to the Boston Marathon and it just struck me for once to say wow it really could be more likely than President Obama will admit. Matt- Khalid if you’re out there please give me your perspective on the numbers of Isis sympathizers we may really have in our Country. Take care all. God Bless.

    1. Doubting:

      The gun men were two Muslims. The guy born in America with a decent job; the wife from Saudi Arabia. They have a little kid six months old. Someone missed something with these people.

      He planned this prior to doing it. Do not know why he stormed out of party but when he went in he already knew he was going to shoot it up. Seems to me he’s been nudging a growing grievance at work which has nothing to do with him being Muslim other than his wife may have been too willing to abet his feelings because of her newness to America and the traditional way women are considered subject to men’s whims in that religion.

      The ISIS study was a joke. Those people identified in it may have had extreme radical Muslim thoughts but most represented no threat. I would guess there are some Muslim sympathizers but I would not expect the great majority of them to act out. What we have to do is not to paint with too broad a brush; you have to keep in mind almost all Muslims in American appreciate this country as much as we do.

      1. Matt- Apparently she was riding with him using the weapon with knowledge and efficiency. She was on a fiancee visa.

  2. Matt
    Something I forgot to ask but in your opinion just how in the world did Whitey Bulger know the indictment was coming down in 95 (94?) ? Correct me if I am wrong but didnt you once post that its highly unlikely that John Connolly told Kevin Weeks at the Rotary spot and then Weeks passed message on to Whitey. Is it that far fetched to conclude that John Connolly told Bulger directly but how could Conolly have known when he no longer worked for the FBI.

    You bring up some great points regarding the documentary. Testament how most people want to portray themselves as a lot smarter, braver, and sharper than they really are in real life.

    1. Jerome:

      Whitey had been in and out of town in the latter part of 1994. It was common knowledge that the feds had a grand jury going and that he was one of their targets.

      It is not far fetched that Connolly could have told Whitey directly. He was not with the FBI but like the guys on the street he too would have known of the grand jury investigation through his contacts in the FBI. You have to understand that just because one retires he still has access to information. That is a much more likely scenario than him telling Weeks who he had hardly anything to do with especially since there was a lot more to the discussion than would be necessary if he was asking him to pass something on. What probably happened was Connolly contacted Whitey; Whitey then went to see Weeks and told him what Connolly said to him.

      It appears sometime just before Christmas Whitey got a tip that the indictments were coming down over the holidays. It may have been from Connolly or someone else in the FBI that he had contact with. The tip was that only four guys in the FBI knew of it. One of them was O’Callaghan. It was alleged O’Callaghan told Connolly which both denied. But it made sense to me that is what may have happened.

      The word to Whitey was not what was actually happening. The plan was to get warrants on complaints on January 5 and then the indictments would come down from the grand jury on January 11th or thereabouts. O’Callaghan may have known about this which would have meant the indictment was coming down after the holidays but Whitey go the news they were coming down over the holidays. He quickly left town on the 23rd and spent New Year’s Eve in New Orleans registering under his own name. Not hearing anything he was on the way back to Boston when Weeks told him Flemmi had been arrested. He turned around and fled.
      Flemmi was caught because he was relying on his long-term buddy Dick Schneiderhan to keep him informed, Schneiderham had a hook in the U.S. Attorney’s office who told him when the grand jury was meeting to consider the indictments which would have been on the 10th or 11th. Flemmi felt he was safe until then; on fact he met with Salemme on the 5th to tell him that. What Schneiderhan’s source did not know was the federals were going to get complaint warrants and that’s how they caught Benji.

      For your information I probably will be running the analysis of the documentary each day next week and probably all through the week that follows. It seems in dealing with the informant issue I’ll have to take up more posts than I originally planne.

      1. Matt
        Thank you for the detailed explanation. I look forward to your further analysis over the next few weeks. Sometime in the near future, at the conclusion of the break downs of all the murders, I am curious as to what EXACTLY Bulger, Flemmi, Weeks, and possibly Connolly could tell us if they HAD to tell the whole truth. Not regurgitating known facts and timeline but what gaps and holes they could fill in tying all this together. Of course that might occur organically once you complete your analysis.

    2. Jerome,
      According to some reports……he simply had a stroke of luck, and heard it on the radio while he was driving back from NYC.


  3. Hi Matt and thanks for an interesting article as I thought that you made some good points.

    Was Bobby Long one of the state police guys who saw Bulger and Flemmi meeting with Italian mobsters such as Baione, Angiulo and Ferrara at Lancaster Street garage?

    Why did these Italian mobsters choose to meet Whitey at Lancaster Street garage?

    Why was Vincent Ferrara nicknamed the Animal?

    1. I thought it was Barboza who had the sobriquet ‘The Animal;’ given after he bit someone in the face during a fight. Perhaps it’s an Italian honorific, like Don?

      1. Henry:

        Yes, that was my impression. I went on Wiki and looked up Vinny Ferrara and that said he too was called the Animal. Something in the back of my mind confirmed that but I don’t know what it is. No doubt Barboza was an animal who frightened many people; Ferrara might have picked up the name after Joe left the scene. I’ll try to dig out more on that.

    2. David:


      Bobby Long was the guy in charge of the operation at Lancaster Street. He was a lieutenant at the time and had an excellent reputation. That is where Whitey, Stevie and others were seen to be interacting with the Mafia guys. Gerry Angiulo was not seen there but his brother Nick and Larry Baione. At the time Winter Hill and the Boston Mafia were, as Baione would tell some muff on the FBI intercept of his office, friends. They worked together and cooperated. They were seen at the garage socializing and also picking up paper bags that were believed to contain cash. I have to figure that was the place where the North End received the money from Winter Hill.

      AS to Vinny Ferrara being named the Animal I cannot help you. What I know of him is that he graduated from Boston College and was in the group of Italians that took over after the Angiulos went to prison and he was grabbed after the FBI wiretap on Vanessa’s. .

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