WHITEY & THE FBI
At odds with the past
By Shelley Murphy, Globe Staff, 7/22/1998
In 1988, Whitey Bulger's special relationship with the FBI -- an informant
who was handled by FBI agent John Connolly -- was disclosed publicly for the
first time in a Globe story.
During interviews at the time and afterward, three key federal law
enforcement officials challenged the account: Connolly; Jeremiah T.
O'Sullivan, the region's top organized-crime prosecutor; and James Ahearn, the
special agent in charge of the FBI's Boston office. The comments the three
officials made a decade ago are now sharply contradicted by this year's
release of FBI files and court testimony.
Jeremiah T. O'Sullivan
Then: ``I don't buy it,'' said O'Sullivan in 1988, when asked about Bulger
being an FBI informant. ``I've heard the stories. I don't know it to be
Now: FBI records, testimony, and interviews suggest that, as far back as 1979,
agents -- including Connolly -- discussed Bulger with O'Sullivan. O'Sullivan
attended meetings in 1980 with other officials to review the FBI's handling of
Bulger, and one agent testified that O'Sullivan urged the FBI not to close out
The records and testimony notwithstanding, O'Sullivan last year insisted to
FBI investigators that he was never officially told that Bulger was an FBI
informant while he was a prosecutor.
Then: In 1990, two years after the Globe story, Connolly sought out a top
Globe editor to denounce the coverage and to insist that, even though he knew
who Whitey Bulger was, he had never talked to him.
Now: FBI records, court testimony by other agents, and Connolly's own public
comments indicate that Connolly has met and talked with Bulger over a hundred
times since 1975.
Then: ``That is absolutely untrue,'' Ahearn said in 1988, when asked about
Bulger having a longstanding relationship with the FBI. ``We specifically deny
that there has been special treatment of this individual.''
Now: Previously-secret FBI files show that Ahearn was intimately involved in
defending Connolly and the FBI's use of Bulger. Less than a year after public
comments denying the ties between the FBI and Bulger, Ahearn in early 1989
wrote a confidential memo to the FBI director trumpeting Bulger ``as the most
important organized-crime informant for many years.''
This story ran on page A20 of the Boston Globe on 07/22/1998.
© Copyright 1998 Globe Newspaper Company.