Wyshak’s Dilemma

IMG_3099Again yesterday we heard AUSA Fred Wyshak talking about a prosecutor’s worst dilemma which is vouching for a witness who is a die-in- the-wool criminal.  Here, last minute allegations have arisen that indicate John Martorano who has admitted murdering 20 unarmed people, most by sneaking up upon them and shooting them in the head, is back in the business.

You may recall Martorano co-authored a book with Howie Carr of Boston radio fame bragging about his life. I’ve mentioned before how he ended the book with the curious boast: “I’m back!” When I read of his life murdering people and saw how little time he did, probably the least amount of time for anyone who murdered so many people, I wondered “what’s that about?”  Earlier in the book I read how within a year of getting out of prison he wore the most expensive shoes and suit in a courthouse. I thought “he sure is back again.”

Then you recall how he mentioned getting together with the prosecution team and figuring out how to dupe the public when he made his deal to do so little time for so many horrendous murders. That was a fine thank you to the prosecution team that had done for him what no other group had ever done for any murderer in the history of the world. It showed that you can’t take the gangster out of a gangster. Martorano, like Whitey, thinks only of himself. What’s good for him is good; anything that isn’t in his interest isn’t worth his time.

That’s why he had no gratitude for what these guys did for him. He’s not thankful to Wyshak for giving him the break of the century and from his point of view he tells us why: “I’m a good man.” He had good reasons to murder people. He thought one was going to be a government witness against his brother; another two teenagers would be witnesses against him. Don’t you understand, these are all justifiable murders and only a good man could do them.

Well Wyshak stuck his neck out for Martorano and took a courageous stand thinking it was worth it to get the Bulgers. Wyshak has always had it in the back of his mind that it is not only Whitey that is involved in criminal activity but somehow Billy Bulger, a guy who probably never got a parking ticket was involved, just because of the relationship or something in the media or whatever he became fixated on.  Wrongly thinking of Billy Bulger as a criminal from my point of view skewed his outlook on the whole case and made him more amenable to jumping into bed with a guy like Martorano .

Recall the idea that he had to deal with Marotorano because he would never have known about these murders. That’s a myth. Martorano himself said it was a race between himself and Flemmi to the prosecutors to see who could get there first and make a deal. Had Martorano not told of them, Flemmi who was the ultimate stoolie, having been an informant for the FBI since the early 1960s would have surely done so.  Plus, with so many wise guys looking at time it was hard to really say the only one who could have solved the murders was Martorano.

I’ve also noted the irony in crediting or praising a guy for giving up all the murders as he has done. Usually when a guy admits doing a murder, called confessing, he doesn’t get a break, he gets prosecuted for it and sentenced as if he murdered someone and hadn’t robbed a bank.  And Martorano, as you can figure, is among the handful of Americans who have ever murdered that many people; and, he is the only one who ever admitted to murdering so many people who is back on the street.

I’ve said in my opinion Wyshak was wrong in his belief about this matter, but had I believed as he did I may have done the same thing. Again, what Martorano said about the deal he made with Wyshak was not to express gratitude but to say he had a smarter lawyer.

We now see Wyshak on the cusp of trial having extended himself to Martorano by giving him the deal of the century and having once felt Martorano’s spit in his face confronting the suggestion that Martorano is back in the business. Wyshak made it clear that he told Martorano no more criminal activity. But he’s dealing with gangsters who as I said only think of themselves.

Martorano knows he has Wyshak in a bind. Wyshak has depended on his evidence in two trials against former FBI agent John Connolly. He knows that Wyshak needs him in the trial of Whitey Bulger. When one is in a position of a supplicant to a gangster, it is not where you want to be. That’s Wyshak’s position now. He has to hope against hope that Martorano is on the straight and narrow which is contrary to everything he has done his whole life.

It leads to what we now see which is the allegation that investigators who did a banged up job bringing down the criminal kingpins Whitey and Stevie, who I’ve suggested have become a little too close to Martorano, now being accused of protecting Martorano so that he can continue his criminal life because doing otherwise they will lose Martorano as a witness.

One can only feel bad for Wyshak. He’s following his belief to the end. He made what he thought was his best judgment. He has no control over the gangster Martorano. It remains to be seen how this plays out.


  1. He did have a smarter lawyer. I was thinking if I was called to be a juror I would add in “…and I think Frank DiMento made wyshak look like a complete sucker/moron in matorano trial.” as one of my many conflicts of interest in this case to be a juror.

    • Jim:

      Having worked with Frank I can attest to that. The man used to lay traps during a trial that he sprung a week later when I was trying to figure out what was going to happen a half hour down the road. He’s real good and a gentleman. Wyshak wasn’t the first one who had his pocket picked by him.

  2. The best defense is a good offense. Impeaching one of the government’s principal witnesses before he even reaches the witness chair, is sharp lawyering. I wonder what else C&B have in their bag of tricks?