The Absurdity of FBI Agent John Connolly’s Incarceration: Part Two

“Ludicrous,” any fair thinking person with a smidgen of knowledge of the facts and characters involved in the murder of John Callahan would respond if asked whether John Connolly had any role in his murder.

Unfortunately, there is so much false information out there by willful media people, who have duped others who relied on them and perpetuated the myths in their books, that the public has been bamboozled into believing something that is ludicrous. Was it Honest Abe who said: “you can fool all of the people some of the time?” This seems to be one of those cases.

The true facts are straight forward so let’s review them. Roger Wheeler was the president of World Jai Alai (WJA) corporation. John Callahan was CEO of WJA. He lost the job when it was discovered he was a friend of John Martorano’s Mafia brother Jimmy. Callahan sulked over that. He decided one way to get his job back was to buy WJA. He offered to buy it. He and Wheeler could not come to terms. Up to this point no one from the Winter Hill gang(Whitey Bulger, Stevie Flemmi, John Martorano) had any connection to WJA. (Some authors have wrongly written that they did.)

Upset, Callahan approached John Martorano, also his friend, a known hit man. He had been indicted for fixing races in Boston and rather than facing the charges he fled to Florida where he was hiding out. He told Martorano he would give him $50,000 if he murdered Wheeler. He believed if Martorano would do that then he could buy WJA from Wheeler’s widow. Martorano contacted another guy hiding out in Florida, Joe McDonald, another killer also associated with Winter Hill. They went off to Tulsa, Oklahoma. Martorano shot Wheeler in the face. McDonald drove the getaway car. They came back to Florida and collected their money. (Martorano would say Whitey and Stevie agreed that he should do the job and helped him by sending guns on the bus.)

Tulsa police and the Oklahoma FBI investigated the murder. It was clear it was a hit but the motive seemed to elude them. Wheeler was a legitimate business man. They then decided to focus on the one business that seemed to be out of character for Wheeler, his involvement in WJA a gaming business.  They received little help from Boston FBI.

They did however learn of Callahan’s connection with the Mafia and other wise guys. They’d find out that another Winter Hill hood Brian Halloran, a friend of Callahan’s, had said that Callahan had arranged for the murder. Pushing, they asked the Boston FBI to question Callahan.

There’s a story out there that Callahan had Whitey and Stevie at his condo in Boston and Halloran was invited in to discuss the murder of Wheeler but that defies common sense. There was no reason for that since Martorano was already in the mix. Halloran, an unreliable drug user, offered that story to get himself out of a first degree murder charge he was facing in Boston. Like all wise guys Halloran knew if he got the FBI in his corner he could have that charge disappear and he could go on the FBI dole in the witness protection program. He also knew he had to throw in a couple of big time hoodlums to do that so he tossed in Whitey and Stevie.

Martorano wrote a book Hitman. He tells about twenty or so murders he committed. Many of them were done because he thought the person was going to turn state’s evidence against him or his friends. It seemed even if he smelled a rat without more he’d act. Murder to Martorano had no more effect on him than the dawn. He knew Callahan posed a danger to only one person. That was John Martorano. Seeing that the focus of the Tulsa investigation shifting toward him, he knew what he had to do. He got together with Joe McDonald and shot Callahan in the head at the Ft. Lauderdale airport. He didn’t need Connolly or anyone else to tell him anything that he did not already know.

To suggest Martorano murdered Callahan because Connolly said something is ludicrous. To suggest Martorano knew that if he went along with the Department of Justice and the FBI in its attempt to pin something on Connolly he’d be richly rewarded is not. Martorano who murdered over 20 persons by pulling a trigger or sticking a knife in them did 12 years. He is a free man. Connolly who murdered no one with his own hand has been in prison since 2002. Hard to avoid calling this a perversion of justice.



  1. Wiiliam, thank you for answering my question.

    On your latest post, it’s great to read an enduring tidbit from your high school years. And, by the way, do you mean to write Sandburg, not Frost, as the author of “Fog?”

  2. Matt, “Perversion of Justice” is the correct final phrase to what happened and continues to happen to John Connolly in Florida by the judiciary. The appeals court majority that overturned his conviction kept him locked in prison so the state/feds could appeal. But on what grounds? The statutes are clear (they don’t apply to John Connolly), the SOL had run, the facts prove it was impossible for Connolly to commit the crime. Worse the dissenting judge quotes the Trial judges Blakely’s egregiously erroneous instructions to the jury on the elements of a murder by gun charge. The states highest court twiddles its thumbs, dithers and lets an innocent man rot in jail. 2. In St. Pat’s parade case there was one honorable judge, Joe Nolan, whose dissent was adopted by SCOTUS. One honorable judge too in Connolly’s case: Judge Harrington who went to Florida to testify on John’s behalf, as to his good character. In St. Pat’s case, Chester Darling with his small band of intrepid Boston-born-and-bred brothers took on the whole corrupt legal, media and academic cabals in Boston who were trying to deprive the Veteran parade organizers of their freedoms guaranteed by the First Amendment. So, too, in Florida, people like Dick Baker, the Miami Innocent Project, Manuel Casiabiele (sp.?) and others tried their hardest to set John free. They were pitted against the forces of darkness in this country: those who abuse power: the feds, judges, journalists, talk show muck rackers, silent academics and complicit academics with ideological axes to grind. 3. My hope is that as was quoted in a short story I read at BC High justice prevails: “The wheels of god grind slowly, yet they grind exceeding fine.” I repeat the legal axiom “Justice delayed is justice denied.” 4. I also throw stones at every federal judge right up to the top of the chain of command who knows of the John Connolly case and sits on silent haunches, in a self imposed fog of denial and indifference. (see Frost’s pithy poem “fog”). Judges have the power to sua sponte take a case, so when the Florida judiciary acts excrutiatingly (sp?) slowly, gutting due process, and thereby effectively continuing to impose cruel and unusual punishment on an innocent man, the federal judges share in the blame and shame for their continuing silence. 5. No need to elaborate on what I think of the press, media in America: cravens, weasels!!! 6. Legal nostrums about “exhausting state court remedies before seeking federal relief” do not apply when a state court system is acting deliberately punishingly slowly, de fact sentencing a man to death. 7. I hesitate to say “a pox on all their houses” about the Florida and federal judiciary and florida and federal prosecutors, because I don’t like cursing and I don’t generally wish poxes, small or large, on anyone. It’s my health background that stills my pen in that regard, but only in that regard. Like I started out saying, there are heroes like Joe Nolan and Chester Darling in America.

  3. Matt, GOK: It’s not ludicrous, not unreasonable, but more so it’s a fact Martorano knew if he told the feds what they wanted to hear he would be richly rewarded. Matt’s assessment is absolutely correct. Martorano killed some twenty people (and perhaps was involved in many more killings as a co-conspirator or at least he knows of the facts of many more murders as he, his brother, his friends (associates) were allegedly involved in many murders.) People who routinely kill to stay out of prison will obviously lie to stay out of prison. As Salemme said, We told the federal prosecutors what they wanted to hear. Salemme said they wanted dirt on Connolly. Salemme said he’d never seen such untoward zeal from prosecutors in his lifelong criminal career. Salemme lied and perjured himself to get leniency. The killers lied to get leniency.
    2. John Connolly not only never was involved in any murder “by his own hand”, he never intended by word, thought or deed to kill anyone. For God’s sakes, he was acquitted of first degree murder and conspiracy in Florida, acquitted of leaking any information that led to anyone’s murders by the Boston jury, and acquitted of any murder related charge. The one murder by gun charge in Florida was an anomaly and a travesty: the SOL had run, the judge improperly instructed the jury on the elements of that crime, which was well settled law in Florida as many courts had addressed it; moreover it was a physical and legal impossibility for him to be convicted on that count, etc, etc, etc. 3. Two things we know about the TEI program: Agents were required to tell their informants they could not commit “violence”; even Morris said that was the policy; even Morris said that he annually told Bulger and Flemmi, in accordance with FBI policy, they could not commit “violence” which Flemmi says Morris interpreted as “no murders.” Secondly, the FBI fully knew that some or many TEI’s (former Mafiosa) had committed murders in the past. They knew they were dealing with murderers. IN Flemmi’s case they certainly knew he had tried to kill a lawyer by dynamiting his car; the lawyer lost his legs. The bad call in the DOJ/FBI was not made by the front line FBI agents, but by the higher ups who decided, in some cases, to keep known or suspected serial killers, mass murders, terrorists, bombers on the fed payroll. Keeping lower level mugs and thugs (even some who murdered, considering all “made men” in the Mafia of the 1970s 1980s had commited murder, a prerequisite to being “made”) may have made sense in order to take down the Kingpins. But how do you keep a man like Flemmi when he’d been indicted and fled after planting a bomb in a prosecutor’s vehicle. That baffles me, as an ethical matter. It raises questions about other heinous criminals and terrorists the DOJ/FBI has in the past and may in the present and future still use.

  4. “To suggest Martorano knew that if he went along with the Department of Justice and the FBI in its attempt to pin something on Connolly he’d be richly rewarded is not.”

    Not … what?