FBI Agent “Leaky John” Morris Animosity Toward The Bulgers Is Behind The 75 Street Attack on Billy

I pointed out a couple of days ago that sometime before September 1988 Gerald O’Neill of the Boston Globe and FBI agent “Leaky John” Morris had struck up a friendship. (There also seems to have been a relationship between Dick Lehr of the Globe and former FBI agent Robert Fitzpatrick)  It was through this relationship that the Boston Globe was able to write its four part series on the Bulger Mystique in September of that year. Leaky John Morris and Fitzpatrick told the Globe that Whitey was an FBI informant. Leaky John did this because he had been taking money from Whitey and he knew if Whitey were caught he’d be in trouble. Leaky John hoped that by having the Globe publicly reveal Whitey’s status the Mafia or some others would murder Whitey.

Leaky John was not content with having Whitey killed, he also wanted to destroy Billy Bulger. He was involved in an investigation of Billy Bulger at that time.  We know that because O’Neill wrote in 2003 that the FBI closed out its investigation of Bulger’s involvement in the 75 State Street matter on November 30, 1988. When O’Neill and Lehr wrote their Spotlight article on December 8, 1988 a large amount of information they included in it had to have come from the FBI investigation that had just been closed by Leaky John.

The December Spotlight story also relied on information that came from a civil suit that had been filed in Suffolk Superior court by Thomas Finnerty, a lawyer, for a legal fee he claimed was owed to him by Harold Brown, the Boston developer of 75 State Street. It seems had Finnerty done anything wrong in connection with his dealings with Brown he would not be filing a suit. He had already been paid $500,000 by him.  Extortion is best done in the dark. One does not shine a light on it.

Several months after Finnerty filed his suit, Brown filed a counter-claim to it. In it, according to the Spotlight Team, he alleged the “arrangement with Finnerty was the result of persistent illegal pressure, along with threats of political muscle, that forced him to make a payoff for peace.” In other words, he was extorted out of the money.

I have not read the actual papers on file, but I can’t figure out why the FBI was involved in an investigation of this before the Spotlight Team disclosed it publicly. I’m bothered by the Spotlight Team using allegations in a suit as if they are proven fact. In this case it wrote that Brown said former Attorney General Edward J. McCormack “wanted to become a 30 percent to one-third owner in exchange for obtaining project approvals.” McCormack denied this.  But Brown’s allegation was repeated over and over again in subsequent articles in the Globe.

Then in an article on February 9, 1989, the Globe reported: “Earlier this week, Brown’s lawyers issued a statement in which he backed off previous statements filed in court that former Attorney General Edward J. McCormack personally approached him in 1983 seeking a 30 percent share of the State Street development. Brown said his information was only based on heresay (sic) but he did not say who told him of the alleged overture by McCormack.”

Brown said he had wanted to correct “an imprecise allegation .“  Imprecise?  What’s with Brown’s lawyers putting in a pleading such an allegation? There’s a great difference between being approached personally and asked something and hearing that someone may have said McCormack wanted to do it. Then to compound this, Brown refused to say who he heard it from.  Maybe, probably a lot more likely than maybe, Brown made it up just to hurt McCormack.  His lawyers were reckless in doing this especially since McCormack was a public figure whose reputation is important.  If they’d lie about McCormack, what would they do against Bulger?

How many knew about the Brown retraction? Very few, I’d guess. How long has McCormack’s reputation taken a beating because of this “imprecise” allegation?  How many other “imprecise” allegations did Brown and his attorneys throw in his suit which he eventually settled for a $200,000 with a payment to Finnerty.  This was obviously much less than Finnerty sought. Brown said he settled because the lawyer’s fees and time involved were not worth continuing it. Finnerty obviously settled because of the embarrassment it was bringing on his friend Billy.

You see rather than litigating the issues between Finnerty and Brown, Brown’s lawyers  had another purpose.  The suit was being used to go after Billy.  They succeeded quite well after their initial thrust probably alerting and providing information to the Globe.  They then moved to go after Billy by filing motions to have him provide all his personal financial records to them.  Billy wasn’t a part of the suit but it was clear they had schemed to make him their target.  Their every move was carried by the Globe with demands that Billy turn over all his records to them. Brown, as I said settled.  Were his lawyer’s happy that his client settled for $200, 000 saving himself over a million.  No, they expressed their disappointment.  It’s clear they were not interested in protecting Brown and they wanted to hurt Billy as were their Globe friends and Leaky John Morris who was passing on the information.

I would point out however that in the December 1988 attack on Billy and all the follow ups to it, there is no mention of Whitey. How would that be if as we’re now led to believe everyone thought there was a corrupt relationship between them? As I have noted before, the allegation that Billy and Whitey had any relationship other than as brothers is a recent invention unsupported by any facts.


  1. interesting reading as always. you lay out fact after fact and what could i write to refute it? so, it does appear from what you have written that the state street affair that many people thought would include billy bulger acting illegaly may not be the case after all. however are you going to go into what i have read regarding billys house in south boston being right next to steve flemmis mothers house. it is my understanding that many weapons were found at that properties location. as billy was an officer of the court did he have a moral obligation to perhaps see if any illegal behavior was going on next door thru the years? my purpose is try to find out if what i have read over the years is true or not. you seem to know so much more about this 99 percent of the people i have come across. as i think about perhaps billy was not after guilty of legal transgression but in my thought process anyways i think he was a moral failure regarding his brother whitey bulger. thanks for writing and i look forward to your new posts

    • Doug:
      I’m still working and trying to learn more about 75 State Street. It is clear to me that only one side of the story was reported and the reason for that was an attempt to smear Billy Bulger. Whether Billy did things right or wrong I’m still looking at that and will discuss it after I get access to some more documents.
      You can go on Google maps (http://maps.google.com/maps/ms?ie=UTF8&oe=UTF8&msa=0&msid=102642041111042446663.00048ebadab8cd95ceee9) and see that Flemmi’s parents house was right next door to Billy Bulger. Their front doors faced each other across a small walk way. Flemmi didn’t live there, as far as I know. He bought the house for his elderly Italian parents apparently because something happened to his mother in another section of Boston where they lived. (I’m a little vague on this because I don’t remember where I read it.) Flemmi seemed to visit there with Whitey (and Weeks, Connolly, other FBI agents) and his mother would feed them, I assume a nice Italian meal. I assume Billy knew Whitey hung around with Stevie. What he knew or thought about the old Italian couple moving in next door to him I have no way of knowing. I’m sure he knew who they were. I don’t think he’d have known their house was going to be used as a murder house by Stevie. (I don’t know where Stevie’s parents were when he was murdering people there. I suppose they may have died at some point and what happened to the house since I don’t know.)
      Looking at the map of their properties, there is a little house type structure in the rear of the property. I believe that must have been the murder place and where the guns were stored. I believe there was a hidden area in the back of that house. (Michael Flemmi, a Boston cop and Stevie’s brother, was convicted of trying to take the guns out to hide them). Look at the satellite view, you can get a good idea.
      I don’t think these gangsters brought the guns and weapons in by day. I don’t think they told anyone they were there. Billy Bulger once said “did you ever try to tell your older brother to do something?” I think Billy knew Whitey was a bookie and a gangster, would prefer he not have been, and would not want to know anything about what he did since it would only come back to hurt him. I have brothers and they do what they want and thing the way they want. What they do is their business and I really have no idea what it is 90% of the time. Thanks for your interest and writing. Keep thinking because the more we figure these things out the better we will be.

  2. William M. Connolly

    It’s interesting that in Fitzpatrick’s book he wrote that 18 of Martorano’s 20 murders were ordered by Whitey. Yet, Martorano admits he killed 8 people before he was even associated with Winter Hill and Whitey. Fitzy’s math is fuzzy!
    A second point, you correctly point out that Finnerty’s civil suit indicates he had nothing to conceal. “Extortion prefers the darkness.” I’d argue that Arthur Gianelli’s civil suit to recover a one million dollar loan was turned by federal prosecutors into an “extortion” charge”. If it’s proof of innocence to be operating in the daylight, Gianelli met that proof. I’d be interested in seeing the initial responsive pleadings to that civil suit. Did the defendant’s initial responsive pleadings raise a defense of “extortion” and a “threat of arson” or were those allegations raised only after the federal prosecutors had their hands on the defendant’s throat?

    • Billy:
      If you read my response to the comment by the guy who mentions Fitzpatrick, I don’t know who he is so if it’s the author I’m waiting for him to come out of the woods and identify himself.
      Fitzpatrick in his book said many things that just don’t pass the smell test.
      I know nothing about the Gianelli suit. I do believe if you are extorting people you don’t file civil actions to recover your damages. There is a legal concept that may or may not exist anymore called the clean hands doctrine. Maybe you should take a trip to the court where it was filed and take a look at it and answer your question. Do you know where it was filed?
      Thanks for writing. Good points. Matt

  3. Declan,

    I wouldn’t take 50 to 1. It would be a great pleasure, however, to cross examine Fitzpatrick in a state court. I heard they put him on the box and he lit it up like a hot slot machine in Atlantic City.

    • Declan: As you see in response to the email from the person who mentioned Fitzpatrick, I’m not sure it is him. If it is I don’t understand why he doesn’t step up to the plate and identify himself. It is pretty much an empty threat so that’s why I tend to think it may not be him. Thanks for the support. Matt

    • Patty: Thanks for the support. I think that if it is the author Fitzpatrick it’d be good if he identified himself. Maybe he doesn’t realize with his book and book tours he’s become a public figure so it would be nice if he stood up and defended himself. He’s got an open invitation to do so on this blog. Matt

  4. Empty threats from a blustery little man with a chip on his shoulder. Can’t wait to read about this call! Unless he has a relative who will make the call gratis, I’m laying 5-1 that it never happens.

  5. I have an idea where Matt Connolly is getting his information about Robert Fitzpatrick and not only is it fallacious but completely out of context. He’ll get a call from Fitzpatrick’s attorney soon.

    • Bob Fitz: Hey, if you are the author of the book why don’t you identify yourself as such and give me some way to authenticate it. I’d love to engage with you over what you have written. You should consult an attorney and see that you are a public figure and then read the lead case in the area New York Times v Sullivan relative to your standing. Even though I have no malice toward you (I don’t even know you except through your books and some other books) as I’ve shown before if I have said anything in error, then I will give you this forum to point it out – you know, lay it out there so that my readers can evaluate it. If I’m wrong about anything, I’ll correct it. I want my readers to know the truth as best I can ascertain it. I have no hidden agenda. If you are the same Bob Fitz who wrote before I asked you some questions like how can you claim you took down Angiulo’s gang when you had nothing to do with it. I had hoped you’d explain. I also asked you about all the investigations you said you did against Billy Bulger, you never answered. I wrote about how puerile your description of meeting with Billy Bulger seemed. Look, it seems to me if you write a book you can’t go into hiding and talk about lawyers making telephone calls. You’re not in the FBI any longer, you’re a public figure without a badge to hide behind. Defend yourself in a public forum, if you are the author Robert Fitzpatrick.

  6. RE: Immunity/Protection, I always found it interesting how closely he was captured after Bin Laden, specifically after Pakistan said this regarding Whitey after accusing Pakistan of protecting bin laden.


    A little too convenient a month and a half later they find someone who’s been on the run, evading capture, for 16 years. This case really is trying to be orchestrated by the prosecution. Do you see any validity or a pattern here regarding protection, or even knowledge of where he is? Matorano even says in “Hitman” the FBI knew where he was the whole time he was on the lam.

    • Jim:
      That’s amazing the Atlantic article you noted. I always believed the FBI had no interest in capturing Whitey. Except for on cursory phone call a couple of days after Whitey fled, the FBI never bothered to contact anyone in his family about his whereabouts for six or so years. It put pen registers on their phones but that was absurd because there was no way Whitey would be calling his relatives. The FBI was happy to chase after rumors of him being in Europe during the tourist season and down Florida or some other warm place in the winter.
      I think the article pointed out why he was captured. It became an international disgrace that the US was complaining about all these other countries not capturing people within their borders and we had a guy on the loose for 16 years. This great failure was holding us up to ridicule. Finally the State Department convinced the president something had to be done and he put pressure on the FBI.
      I don’t know if the FBI knew where he was. That’s the problem with our society. We don’t know what it is doing until it becomes public. All I can say is that if it really wanted to find him it could have done it years earlier.
      With respect to Murderman Martorano, I don’t believe anything he says. Yet examine his situation. He fled because he was indicted in 1979. Why couldn’t the FBI find him in Florida where he lived from 1979 to 1995 if it really was looking for him. Suddenly, after he’s again indicted in 1995, he’s quickly located. I suppose that’s why Murderman made that statement about the FBI knowing Whitey’s location because he knew it knew where he was all the time.
      Your surmise about a pattern of protection is certainly supported by the facts. It is just a shame that so much is hidden from us. Thanks for writing.

  7. It may be of interest to note that John Iuele’s company was titled Hamilton Funding, and Mr. Iuele claimed some relationship to a Mr. Brown, and Winthrop Properties, and or Real Estate…

    • Jean
      I’ll write more about Harold Brown. I don’t think he would have had any relationship to Whitey Bulger. He did not like the Bulgers from what I can see.