Read all about it: The vicious record of Whitey Bulger and his protectors
By David Nyhan, Globe Columnist, 6/07/2000
The myth portrayed Whitey Bulger the two-fisted wiseguy, streetwise,
politically connected, always flouting the law and fixing his way out of it,
South Boston's own Robin Hood.
They got the hood part right. But the 70-year-old gangster unmasked in a
new book about his deceptions emerges as a vicious, heartless extorter, the
despoiler of the very neighborhood whose values he claimed to epitomize, a
broker of drugs and guns, a threatener of children, who preyed on the weak and
weak-minded wherever he found them, including inside the FBI and the US
The book is "Black Mass: The Irish Mob, the FBI and a Devil's Deal" (Public
Affairs Press), by my Globe colleagues Dick Lehr and Gerard O'Neill, two
diligent excavators of the local criminal scene. Already into its second
printing, it is flying out of Boston bookstores.
After digesting the sad and seamy 381-page account of braggadocio,
balderdash, and betrayal, I put it down feeling that the title might have been
"It Takes One to Catch One," whether one is a thief or a murderer. Because
some of the catchers come off almost as bad as the catchees in this chronicle
A Boston police official who suspected for years that the South Boston
mob's political and FBI connections were protecting dangerous criminals said
these revelations "go to the very heart of government."
What nonfiction writers do is capture, compress, and sculpt complicated and
interlocking tales into a single narrative. The stunner in this volume is the
weight of the crimes committed by two FBI informants - Bulger, known as "Jim"
to his intimates, and Stevie Flemmi - with the connivance of a number of FBI
agents, most notably John Connolly, a Bulger acolyte from the old Southie.
Several murders followed.
For those of us who never immersed ourselves in the 17,000 pages of
testimony unearthed by US District Court Judge Mark Wolf, dwelt upon his
661-page summary, or tracked the various hearings, depositions, and hundreds
of newspaper accounts of Bulger's Irish gang, the book assembles between two
covers several lifetimes of criminality and coverups.
For the good guys who were trying to do the right thing, the FBI colleagues
who were led astray, the State Police detectives whose painstaking
surveillances were betrayed, the Drug Enforcement agents and Boston cops whose
tip-sharing was squandered or round-filed or misused by Bulger's protectors in
the Bureau, "Black Mass" finally squares the account.
Former FBI supervisor John Morris, who met with Bulger and Flemmi maybe 20
times after being drawn into their orbit by former agent Connolly, took his
first step down the corrupt path by taking $1,000 from Bulger to fly his FBI
secretary to a romantic assignation. Then Connolly got Morris in deeper.
Morris: "Connolly called me and said, `I have something for you from these
guys. Why don't you come over and pick it up?' I went over; I picked it up. It
was a case of wine. On the way out he said, `Be careful with it; there's
something in the bottom for you.' So I took the case of wine . . . there was
an envelope on the bottom that contained $1,000 in it."
For less than $10,000 in bribes, Morris, an agent with great
accomplishments in prosecuting the Angiulo family's criminal enterprises,
destroyed his career and reputation. He's confessed, been given immunity, and
awaits testifying if Bulger is ever captured alive. Connolly disputes Morris's
Lehr and O'Neill scanned thousands of pages of court transcripts, checked
wiretap logs against court testimony, and interviewed all who would talk. It's
all stitched together. The weight of detail, with all the quotations and the
mountain of evidence, amounts to a massive indictment of Connolly, Morris, and
FBI superiors who let them turn a rogue operation into a major league
perversion of justice.
Nor does it spare the Justice Department. Jeremiah O'Sullivan, a former
assistant US attorney, is faulted for looking the other way on some crimes,
protecting Whitey from an FBI review, and denying entrance to the witness
protection program for a Bulger enemy, Brian Halloran, who was murdered five
O'Sullivan also cleared Whitey Bulger's brother, former Senate president
William Bulger, of criminal involvement in a case involving a $500,000 fee
from Boston's largest landlord, Harold Brown.
City Council President James Kelly also figures in the book, tangled up in
the case of a realtor threatened with death by Whitey for not paying a $50,000
protection fee. A former Whitey associate, Kevin Weeks, apparently led police
to the Dorchester graves of John McIntyre, Deborah Hussey, and safecracker
Bucky Barrett, all three tied to Bulger's criminal enterprise.
This is the Southie version of "The Sopranos," unmasking Bulger, Flemmi,
Connolly, and Morris as betraying those to whom they'd professed allegiance.
There are some heroes: federal prosecutor Fred Wyshak and some allies who
pressed the cases his predecessors ignored; Judge Mark Wolf, "who was willing
to go where no court has ever gone" in unmasking FBI corruption, in the words
of author Lehr; and honest cops like State Police Detective Bob Long and
former Quincy police official Dick Bergeron.
Connolly faces racketeering and other charges, and Wolf found that 18 FBI
agents broke laws or violated policies in this tangled affair. And the book
obliterates the myth of Whitey as the standup Southie guy.
This story ran on page A19 of the Boston Globe on 6/07/2000.
© Copyright 2000 Globe Newspaper Company.