Why FBI Agent John Connolly Languishes in Prison — Who Is Pulling the Strings

When Connolly was tried in Boston we read in the newspapers continuing coverage of the events at his trial.  We heard how his Supervisor Morris testified as to the bribes he received, how Martorano told of giving him a ring, how Salemme told of meeting with him, and how Weeks told of Whitey’s relationship with him.  We then read that he was convicted.  He was sent to prison as a corrupt FBI agent.  We heard no more about his Boston case or the circumstances surrounding it.  The FBI with the help of the U.S. Attorney’s office turned out the lights on it and went back to business.   We were left to believe that an little rogue agent unbeknownst to others besmirched the reputation of the FBI and went off to get his just due.

Connolly’s case consisted in reality of two parts.  Actions done while he was an agent; and actions done after he retired in December 1990.   His racketeering indictment had 14 underlying charges, 10 relating to actions as an agent and 4 after he retired.  There were four other substantive charges that all came about after he retired.

There were serious charges and not so serious charges relating to his time as an agent.  The serious charges consisted of two parts: the less serious, those relating to taking gifts from Whitey and Stevie; and the more serious, those that endangered the lives of others by wrongfully providing information to criminals.  Of this latter group Connolly was charged with obstruction of justice by failing to report the Rakes’s extortion, revealing to the gangsters that Castucci and Halloran were informants, telling that Callahan would not stand up under questioning, and leaking the Bahorian wiretap.

When we read that Connolly was a corrupt agent, we should realize that the government failed to prove he did anything corrupt with respect to the most serious matters.  Few know this and I dare to say that the vast majority of people who have an interest in this matter believe otherwise.  Except for the case of wine with the thousand dollars that Connolly gave to his FBI supervisor Morris, had Connolly retired from the FBI and walked away from his prior life he’d not have been convicted of any offense done while an agent.

It seems more fair to say Connolly was a corrupt retired FBI agent.

This can be explained by the jury deciding that as an FBI agent he had the right to do what he did with respect to his informants.  He was charged with leaking the Bahorian wiretap.   Morris, his supervisor, was the one who did that.  He and other FBI agents testified that it was all right to tell people about upcoming wiretaps if the person furnished information which led to them.

The jury had no guidelines during the trial explaining what it was that an FBI agent can do that a civilian can’t do.  It knew the FBI had a program to use persons who committed and continued to commit criminal acts as informants.   It wasn’t told how the FBI could do this and not get involved in the informant’s criminality when it protected him.

Connolly’s retirement charges involved four things: lying to an FBI agent, writing the letter to Judge Wolf, telling Flemmi to testify falsely, and tipping Flemmi and Bulger off about the indictments coming down.  The lying to the FBI agent consisted of Connolly denying he had been in contact with Flemmi’s lawyer.  That’s more stupidity than criminal.

Telling Flemmi to lie is also not that serious.  It reminds me of a story about Superior Court Judge Daisy Donohue.  He was walking from the superior courthouse in Dedham to the square at lunch time.  A person rushed up to him and exclaimed, “judge, there was perjury in your courtroom this morning!”  Daisy shrugged and responded, “where else would you find it?”  I know it’s a crime and one is not supposed to do it but it is more commonly done that not.

The letter to Judge Wolf was a flagrant attempt to undermine the justice system.  That is  quite outrageous especially since Judge Wolf had no option but to take the letter seriously and hold hearings on it to determine whether it was truthful. Connolly,  a former FBI agent, was attempting to  perpetrate a fraud upon the court to secure the dismissal of serious charges against vicious criminals.

The final charge, tipping off the gangsters when the indictments were coming down I had serious doubts about.  My analysis of the evidence did not support that conclusion.  I’ll get into that later.

Connolly should have recognized that there was no way he would walk away from all the charges.  His lawyer, Tracy Miner, concentrated on the gangster testimony and was able to convince the jury not to accept it.  She did a good job rebutting the evidence of telling them to flee but she had no ammunition with the letter, the lie to the FBI agent or the lie by Flemmi.

I look at the Boston federal case against Connolly as an attempt by the FBI wash its hands of Connolly, and only Connolly, for doing the job he was supposed to do as an agent because it came to the public notice that the two worst criminals in New England were FBI informants.  Remember, no one in the FBI command structure from the director down to his supervisors had any problem with Connolly’s relationship with these top echelon informants.  If Connolly was corrupt in maintaining these relationships, he was not the only one because everyone in the FBI command structure knew of the relationship and recognized that any relationship with a top echelon informant was a quid pro quo deal, something for something, protection of a criminal for information against other criminals.  It was not that Connolly had Joe Shitz the Ragman as his informant — he had Whitey Bulger, the most notorious gangster in the City of Boston and Eastern Massachusetts.

Judge Tauro gave Connolly eight to ten years in prison.  Some say it was harsh considering the charges he stood convicted of.  No doubt it would have been a lot more had Connolly been convicted of the serious charges — Judge Tauro said as much when he let Connolly out on bail after the jury returned its verdict.  He said had he been convicted of those he would have revoked his bail.  Tauro was probably bothered most by Connolly’s intent to disrupt the hearings of a fellow judge knowing the aggravation that it entails.  Connolly ran afoul of the adage that when you strike at a king you better make sure you don’t fail.  He struck at the federal judiciary and missed.  He suffered the consequences.

I have more trouble with Connolly still being in prison.  The Boston jury found he did not obstruct justice by telling about Callahan; the Florida jury found he committed murder by telling about Callahan.  I’ve said one of Connolly’s problem is that he remained silent when he should have spoken.  I’ve heard compelling arguments that there was no way he could have helped himself if he did speak out.  I’ll go into that later.

It is said the charge in the Florida case that Connolly stands convicted of cannot stand because the statute of limitations on his crime had passed.  I’ll also  discuss that later.  His appeal of that issue to the Florida Appeals court was denied without an opinion depriving him of a right to pursue it.  It seems somewhat tawdry and a wee bit unsettling that a man can be convicted of murder and face the rest of his life in jail and the upper court refuses to justify the conviction in writing.

Sometimes it seems that the strong hand of the FBI wants Connolly to stay confined for the rest of his life and has the capability of making it happen.  I’m not saying it is influencing the judiciary but the refusal to write an opinion on his appeal strikes me as out of course.   How that hand will play into the trial of Whitey remains to be seen but I think you’d be hard pressed, as Diogenes of Sinope was to find an honest man, to find anyone in the FBI who wants Whitey to go to trial.

9 thoughts on “Why FBI Agent John Connolly Languishes in Prison — Who Is Pulling the Strings

  1. How dumb is the press in Boston? Around 1980 you had the race-fixing case at Suffolk Downs. The top 10 Winter Hill members are mentioned in the indictment yet only 8 are charged. Flemmi and Bulger are not. Not one of the geniuses in the media could deduce that they were informants. How else do they escape? What did the Herald pay it’s crime reporter H. Carr for ? To miss the obvious. The best line in the ” Godfather” movie was Michael saying ” We got newspapermen on the payroll” When you hire guys from prep school and Maine it looks like you are not interested in the real story. 2. You are 100% correct in deconstructing the totally bogus ” Rogue Agent” story. The press ran with the Mafia invented story of “widespread corruption” at the FBI. The Feds approached John Connolly 4 years into his sentence and told him he could hit the street if he would give up other FBI agents. He gave the same response he gave you about Bill Bulger. He knew of no wrongdoing. What criminal wouldn’t tell a lie to get out of prison? Connolly was honest and wouldn’t falsely incriminate an innocent person. He wasn’t a Rogue agent. He acted stupidly, like the Cambridge Police,as an ex agent. 3. How do you catch a corrupt cop and what sentences do they usually recieve? Normally it would be in a contemperaneous act. A sting with marked money ( McDonough), catching a cop on a crooks payroll ( Schneiderham) or Padilla, Acera, Bangs and Robinson arrested near the time of the crimes. They recieved sentences from 1-4 years. Connolly is convicted on perjured testimony of acts committed a decade before and gets 10 years. 4. The entire prosecution against Connolly was a crass political vendetta to get Bill Bulger. Orchestrated by 2 thin skinned lightweights from Maine and NY. Tauro thought he was Sirica and Connolly would roll on Bill Bulger thus the unjust and excessive sentence. After the dishonest and illegal prosecution in Florida Wyshak was asked where Connolly went wrong. His response was that “he got too close to the Bulgers” Did he mean Whitey and his siter or Whitey and his nephew? His response proves the political nature of the entire scheme. 5. Why did the book ‘ Black Mass” misportray Stippo Rakes? He was never a victim and the murder of his 1st wife( his brother was indicted) was left out of the story.

    1. The race fixing case was up and down the East Coast. Fat Tony Ciulla a cooperating witness was very upset that Whitey and Stevie were cut out of the indictment. Gerry O’Sullivan the AUSA is all over the block trying to explain why he didn’t indict them but it came down to doing a favor for Connolly and Morris as best I can tell. Whitey and Stevie were named in the indictment as co-conspirators along with doxens of other people. It wasn’t just Carr who missed that, lots of reporters did.

      The corruption in the FBI was the use of murderers as top echelon informants and protecting them which Connolly said was his job. I told Connolly on the first day of his trial he should not be standing there alone. Keep in mind, Connolly was not convicted of that in Boston. He did his initial bit for what he did after he left the FBI. It seems obvious Connolly didn’t have any information on anyone in the FBI doing something illegal because they were doing what he was doing which he did not think was criminal.

      The corrupt Boston cops have been caught after someone they knew wore a wire. Usually they did less than four years but I could be wrong on that. Schneiderhan, the worst of the worst, did only 18 months.

      Connolly was convicted mostly on acts he did himself that were pretty well proven by corroborative evidence. He believe he got a heavy hit because he tried to undermine Judge Wolf’s case.

      I thought Judge Tauro did an excellent job and was a fair judge. It’s hard to know what agreements are made between a judge and counsel prior to a trial in an attempt to expedite it. I never heard Tracy Miner of Connolly complain about him.

      I can’t disagree with you that the shadow of Billy Bulger hangs over the case. I don’t think it played any part in Tauro’s decision. Tauro has been on the bench for many years. I think he is one of the best and fairest judges. He’s right down the middle.

      Stippo Rakes may be a bad guy but what difference does that make. There’s no doubt his store was extorted from him by Bulger, Flemmi and Weeks. John Connolly admitted to two newspaper reporters that Joe Lundbohm told him that Bulger had extorted the liquor store from Stippo. He did nothing about, didn’t even file a report. He justifies it as part of his deal to protect Whitey. I don’t think he’d say it was all right for Whitey to extort from people as long as they were bad people. Anyway, it didn’t affect his case since the jury acquitted him of that charge..

      As far as Black Mass is concerned it has some bias which I wrote about. I think it is one of the best books written on the affair. Why they didn’t mention the murder you mentioned I have no idea. It doesn’t seem particularly relevant to me. .

  2. The problem with Black Mass’s first edition was (1) they presented the Rakes as innocents, (2) they gave scant or no detail that some Rakes were implicated in crimes, other than to mention that the Rakes like all of us were not saints; (3) either by neglect or oversight, they failed to investigate Rakes’ sisters, both of whom, said the sale was voluntary; neighbors, friends and acquaintances of the Rakes have said the same thing; (4) the word on the street at L-Street is there was no extortion, that Rakes sold voluntarily, that he needed cash fast, that he made up a story of extortion and sold it to his wife; only Rakes himself can confirm or deny that; and (5), the fact reported in Black Mass and elswhere, I recall, is that John Connolly did ask Mrs. Rakes to wear a wire, which she refused to do. Understandably so!, because of her fears. Should John Connolly have filed a report? Apparently, yes! But he didn’t do nothing. And he may have been aware of “the word on the street”, which later on, at least, indicated the sale was voluntary. Who knows? How does anyone nail down these things? The point is Black Mass didn’t nail down or fully investigate this matter. Black Mass was conceptualized as a tall tale whose purpose, in part, was to crucify the FBI and John Connolly. It is a good and fasinating read, well researched and written well in many respects, but blantantly biased and misleading and hyperbolic in others. Julie Rakes is a very nice person, from all accounts, and we know the Lundbohms are great people; I very much liked and admired all the Lundbohms. But I also very much liked and admired John Connolly. There’s so much bad blood on both sides, on all sides, I agree with others that a special prosecutor should be appointed to investigate everyone: judges, prosecutors, witnesses, gangsters, cops, the press, law professors, talk show hosts—everyone involved in this forty-years long sordid horror show of murder and corruption and deceit and violations of fundamental principles of fair trials and fair reporting. There are many sides to this story. It is a good thing that honest people, people with integrity, like Matt Connolly, are trying to set the record especially the historical record straight.

  3. eddie mac is a liar and his first contract with a new york publisher was canceled because he never had anything to do with the mob. Boston Globe article added he was to return his 60K advance.Nobody on the street will believe stuff yu say if yu continue to post about him. Helen Rees must have had no scruples to give it to Starcherone to publish. I think he had to return his profits on the book to the estate of the old woman he conned. She proved him a liar in a court case.

    1. Rachel: Thanks for commenting. Eddie Mac did get the book public by Steerforth Press. A guy I’ve known from when lived in Old Harbor Village who spent his life in Southie when asked whether he was as good with his fists as he wrote confirmed it. I assume all these guys are lying to a greater or lesser degree. You’ll note I wrote today: “Nee was right, informants are “self-serving criminals who lie.” So are criminals who write books.”
      I don’t know as much about him as you seem to know. You don’t seem to hold him in high esteem. I noted in a prior post that John “Red” Shea had little good to say about him believing he was a rat. I appreciate the information. I’ll see what I can do to follow up. Again, I appreciate your interest. Thanks.

  4. i met another writer who knows him well at kate’s mystery bookstore that has closed. he warned me to stay away from eddie. i can tell u a lot more but i don’t want it in print on this blog. betcha he never won any golden gloves either, but that’s not all that important. just curious.

    i am a writer looking for a literary agent for my memoir CONNECTED.

  5. I have known John Connolly since our days at Columbus High, I therefore have followed this story with great interest. I cannot come to any other conclusion that John is being railroaded in order to keep him quiet. John many have made some boneheaded mistakes, most of them merely procedural.Yes he also crossed the line and protected his sources, but who in their right mind thinks that dealing with such high level criminals, an agent has to give some quid pro quo in order to procure information. Connolly’s tribulations are aimed at getting at Bill Bulger, not Whitey. Bill Bulger has been a target of the Boston Globe (and other anti-irish nabobs) who seek revenge for Bill’s spirited defense of his constituents and his acerbic pilloring of hypocritical pro-busing interests.

    1. Chuck:
      I agree with all that you write. I’ve always said Connolly was rightfully convicted in Boston for his actions that he took after he retired. I understand why hid did them out of a false sense of loyalty and obligation to Flemmi who had a deal with the FBI that he would provide them information against the Mafia and would be allowed to engage in his illicit businesses which was required if he was to get the information. Connolly’s sentence was at the outer limits of the sentencing guideline. That should have been it. That he is still in prison is outrageous because he is there for doing what he was expected to do as an FBI agent in being the handler of top echelon informants.
      My book is entitled “Don’t Embarrass The Family” because I believe the only reason Connolly was brought up on charges is that the FBI became embarrassed that its program to recruit top echelon informants came to public light and someone had to be a scapegoat.
      I attended every day of Connolly’s hearings. I knew John from our jobs having met him a handful of times. I was not a fan of his since I went to the trial because of something I believed he should not have done. During the hearing I could not push the feeling away that even though Connolly was being offered as the scapegoat for the FBI’s sins the whole thing was about “get Billy Bulger” and if John could give them something on Billy then all the blame could be put on Billy, that is, Billy would be put out there as the super criminal mind behind everything. You are right on the money with your observations.
      Sadly, for Billy, he has had no forum over which to tell his side of the story or to defend himself because having been a public figure he is fair game from anyone to write anything about him. The one-sided approach defaming Billy has flooded the airways, media and bookstores. I did not set out with the mindset to speak for Billy or Connolly or anyone else, least of all Whitey. If you read my early blogs you can see this. But as time went on and I delved deeper into these materials and did my own independent research I’ve come up with a totally different picture than what the public has been fed. I’m glad you can see what is going on, few others seem to be able. Thanks for writing.

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