Case mounts against ex-FBI agent
Connolly allegedly tipped informants
By Shelley Murphy, Globe Staff, 10/12/2000
The case against former FBI agent John J. Connolly reached a new level
yesterday with additional charges that he leaked information to his prize
informants, gangsters James "Whitey" Bulger and Stephen "the Rifleman" Flemmi,
that led to the slayings of two FBI informants and a potential witness against
The added federal charges against the 60-year-old retired agent from
Lynnfield mark the first time that Connolly has been accused of instigating
murders and come just two weeks after Bulger and Flemmi were charged in a
related federal case with killing 18 people between 1973 and 1985.
The new charges were added to a racketeering indictment brought against
Connolly, Bulger, and Flemmi last December that accused the agent of
protecting his informants by tipping them to investigations and warning them
to flee to avoid prosecution in 1995. Bulger has been a fugitive ever since.
The new nine-count indictment alleges that Connolly, who retired from the
FBI in December 1990, leaked confidential information to Bulger and Flemmi
that provoked the 1976 slaying of Richard Castucci and the 1982 slayings of
Brian Halloran and John Callahan.
Castucci and Halloran are identified as FBI informants in the indictment.
Callahan is named as a potential witness against Bulger and Flemmi in the
slayings of Halloran and a Tulsa millionaire.
US Attorney Donald K. Stern told reporters at an early evening news
conference, "Today's indictment fills out a dark picture of corruption and
obstruction of justice by a former FBI agent . . . The handler of criminals
became one himself."
Connolly also faces several obstruction of justice charges resulting from
hearings by US District Judge Mark L. Wolf, who is presiding over the 1995
racketeering case against Bulger and Flemmi and who held lengthy hearings
exposing their relationship with the FBI.
Connolly is accused of writing a false, anonymous letter to Wolf on Boston
police stationery in 1997 in an attempt to discredit a former Boston police
detective and other investigators who had been targeting Bulger and Flemmi for
years. Connolly is also accused of plotting with Flemmi to lie during the
Among the new charges is a claim that Connolly received a diamond ring from
Bulger and Flemmi back in June 1976, a mere nine months after he first
recruited Bulger as an FBI informant.
Charles Prouty, who recently took over as special agent in charge of the
FBI's Boston office, said, "The allegations are appalling to me and every
other FBI agent. This is a bitter pill for all of them. Don't judge us by a
couple of bad apples and rogue agents."
Connolly, who retired after a 22-year career as a highly decorated agent
with a reputation for developing high-level informants, and his attorneys
released a statement last night calling the new indictment "outrageous."
Tracy Miner, a lawyer representing Connolly, wrote, "This indictment is a
further example of the outrageous actions of the government which has been
working to conceal its own misconduct and distract attention from the way they
have handled criminal investigations."
Miner blasted the government for cutting deals with two former Bulger
associates and a disgraced FBI supervisor in building its case against
Confessed hit man-turned government witness John Martorano and Bulger's
former top deputy, Kevin Weeks, have helped the government solve dozens of
unsolved murders and implicated Bulger and Flemmi in most of them.
Former FBI supervisor John Morris, testifying under a grant of immunity in
1998, admitted that he pocketed $7,000 in bribes from Bulger and Flemmi during
the 1980s and contended Connolly served as the middleman - on two occasions
delivering bribes in cases of expensive wine.
"They have relied on the testimony of a serial killer, a serial liar and a
`wannabe' mobster in making their case," Miner said. "The government then
asked you, the public, to believe that these new indictments are based on
The indictment alleges that Richard Castucci, 47, a Revere nightclub owner
and bookie, was shot to death by Bulger and Flemmi on Dec. 29, 1976, after
Connolly told them that Castucci was an FBI informant.
Connolly allegedly revealed to Bulger and Flemmi that Castucci had tipped
the FBI that fugitives Joseph McDonald and James Sims, both members of
Somerville's Winter Hill Gang, were hiding out in New York's Greenwich
Village, the indictment says. Both Bulger and Flemmi were members of the gang
and are accused of killing Castucci to prevent the capture of McDonald and
The indictment also alleges that Connolly warned Bulger and Flemmi in April
1982 that Halloran was cooperating with the FBI and had implicated them in the
May 27, 1981 slaying of Roger Wheeler, who was shot to death outside a Tulsa
Halloran had told the FBI that Wheeler, the chairman of Telex Corp. and
owner of World Jai Alai, was killed because he suspected the Winter Hill Gang
of skimming funds from his company. Halloran had implicated Bulger, Flemmi,
and John Callahan, the former president of World Jai Alai, in Wheeler's
The indictment alleges that Bulger and others gunned Halloran down as he
sat in a car on South Boston's waterfront on May 11, 1982, to prevent him from
cooperating further. Halloran's friend, Michael Donahue, was killed as he sat
in the car next to him.
The indictment alleges that Bulger and Flemmi ordered the murder of
Callahan, who was shot to death in Florida on Aug. 1, 1982, after learning
from Connolly that Callahan was being sought as a witness before a federal
grand jury investigating Wheeler's murder.
Robert George, who represents Michael Donahue's family, called the
indictment a huge day.
"As far as the Donahue family is concerned, John Connolly, John Morris and
the FBI loaded the guns that killed Michael," George said.
Roger Wheeler's son David, meanwhile, called the news of the new charges
"I love progress," he said. "I think he [Connolly] clearly helped protect
my father's killers. He had so much power and he abused it. In my mind it
caused the deaths of a number of people. I just hope this is not the end."
The indictment also charges Connolly with obstruction of justice for
allegedly writing a letter to Judge Wolf on March 27, 1997, that purported to
come from three unnamed Boston police officers and was written on police
The anonymous letter claimed that retired Boston Police Sergeant Detective
Frank Dewan, the Massachusetts State Police, the Drug Enforcement
Administration, the FBI, and the New England Organized Crime Strike Force had
furnished or relied on false information to prosecute Bulger and Flemmi.
The indictment alleges that Connolly wrote the letter "in an effort to dupe
Judge Wolf into crediting defense claims" and to assist Flemmi's defense.
Dewan, who worked on an investigation that led to the 1990 indictment of 51
members of a cocaine ring that allegedly paid tribute to Bulger, said, "I
think he was trying to destroy my credibility. I'm thankful to the government
for pursuing the investigation and finding out the real truth."
Assistant US Attorney John Durham, who has spearheaded the FBI
investigation that led to the charges against Connolly, said the investigation
into the FBI's handling of Bulger and Flemmi is expected to continue for
several more months and additional charges are possible.
Bulger has been dropped from the case involving Connolly as he faces two
other racketeering charges. Flemmi, who has been jailed without bail pending
trial, now faces four separate federal indictments.
Connolly is expected to be arraigned on the new charges Oct. 19.
Connolly is now charged with two counts of racketeering, conspiracy to
obstruct justice, four counts of obstruction of justice, and one count of
making a false statement. Flemmi is charged with conspiracy to obstruct
justice and obstruction of justice.
Connolly is accused of lying to the FBI agents during a July 1997 interview
by denying he was in contact with Flemmi's defense team. The indictment
alleges Connolly spoke with Flemmi's defense team on several occasions between
1995 and 1997.
Globe correspondent Ralph Ranalli and Andy Dabilis of the Globe staff contributed to this report.
This story ran on page B1 of the Boston Globe on 10/12/2000.
© Copyright 2000 Globe Newspaper Company.