The Feds Let ‘Whitey’ Get Away With Murder

FBI agents and other officials protected James "Whitey" Bulger as he roamed free for decades. Is there a statute of limitations on corrupting the system?

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U.S. Marshals Service / U.S. Department of Justice / Reuters

Former mob boss and fugitive James "Whitey" Bulger in a booking photo, released by the U.S. Marshals Service on Aug. 1, 2011

Occasionally, there is more eloquence in a single word than in a string of finely crafted statements. Today was one of those moments as James “Whitey” Bulger stood and listened while that one word — guilty — was repeated 31 times in federal court in Boston: guilty of multiple counts of racketeering, extortion, drug dealing and, most importantly, guilty of 11 murders.

A jury sat for 35 days of testimony, listened to 72 witnesses, heard about homicides coldly committed as if they were an element of some business balance sheet, a buyout with bullets, Bulger as sort of a combination of CEO and risk officer of his own murderous hedge fund. And across all the decades he always bet his future against his victim’s lives and continually won because he had a merger agreement with the FBI, literally partners in crime.

Years ago, when his brother Bill was a state senator from Boston, I indicated that no drug — heroin, cocaine, marijuana — moved in South Boston, Bulger’s own neighborhood, without James’ knowledge. Bill took great offense at the charge and told me that I didn’t know what I was talking about and that he, Bill Bulger, had been assured by people who knew far more about drug trafficking than I did that I was flat out wrong. His source: the FBI, specifically John Connolly, a former agent now serving a 40-year sentence in Florida for conspiracy to commit murder.

The victims were John Callahan, shot to death in Florida in 1982, and Roger Wheeler, killed in Oklahoma in 1981. They died because James Bulger was afraid they might cooperate with the law against him. Connolly allegedly told Bulger about the threat they posed to him. So both guys were murdered by John Martorano, who killed many, many people — dozens — for a living as part of the thriving, prosperous, criminal growth industry Bulger ran for over three decades. Of course, Martorano is free today to walk in the sun, go to the beach, the movies or a ball game because he cut a deal with the government: his testimony in exchange for his freedom.

(VIDEO: A Mysterious Death of Witness for ‘Whitey’ Bulger Trial)

And that gets to one of the questions that linger at the successful conclusion of Bulger’s trial: How is that so many former FBI agents along with an assortment of former Justice Department lawyers from the 1980s and ’90s were not required to testify about what they knew and when they knew concerning the fact that so many seemed aware that the FBI acted as a virtual bodyguard, a protector, of Bulger, in some cases actually obstructing Boston and Massachusetts State Police detectives who were after him? Is there a statute of limitations on corrupting the system?

It sure is understandable that the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Boston wanted an efficient trial so it clearly couldn’t call everyone to testify. They had a mountain of evidence to introduce and the prosecution team was skilled, more than capable and had been ready for years for this moment. But as they lug Bulger off to federal prison where he, an aging sociopath and killer, will surely die, there are more than a handful who used to carry a badge or represent the law who turned their eyes and dropped their duty all the while one man ruined so many lives, figuring he could operate under his own personal consent decree issued by our very own government.

It took a jury to finally point out the truth. And they did it 31 times, using the most powerful weapon of all, the one simple word: guilty.

PHOTOS: The Many Looks of James ‘Whitey’ Bulger

An earlier version of this article misspelled the surname of James Bulger’s hit man. He is John Martorano, not Martarano.

22 comments
jaicenick
jaicenick

Are you asking me or are you asking the person who asked the question?

jaicenick
jaicenick

The question about  whether or not there was a statute of limitations on corrupting the systems made me smile. Obviously their isn't, the city, state and federal governments have been doing it for centuries.

RobS.
RobS.

Like this told us anything we didn't already know. And he got paid for this? Nice work if you can get it.

wpkatz
wpkatz

The great American justice system: you always have to let go two killers in a deal to get one convicted.

renfieldc
renfieldc

But, whatever the past has finally revealed and justice has been done - to a small degree - isn't it part of the democratic process and proof that Democracy is a heap of crap?

dectra
dectra

The Feds who were 'running' Whitey should be in Jail, right next to him...

mark120953
mark120953

Mike Barnicle is not the best or worst essayist but he does know Boston and still lives in metro Boston with his very powerful wife,an executive at Bank of America and we all know what a great job BofA did leading up to the Countrywide purchase and beyond. Anyway,he has a good reputation in spite of the forced resignation at the Globe over ten years ago and eventhough he appears on the dismal Morning Joe broadcast(a guy has to make a living),he knew the Bulgers history and was not an arse kisser as one assumed. The FBI in Boston is a challenged group having not done great intelligence on the brothers who bombed the finish line of the Marathon last April or in tracking the Sept.,2001 hijackers of two planes that left Boston,etc. They are not saints nor are they all on the take. There are plenty of white collar criminals in Boston who never get indicted,too. If anybody in metro Boston wants to drop a dime on any of those at major financial firms there,I will be very surprised.

OswaldoLe'mon
OswaldoLe'mon

Mike Barnicle was one of the biggest Bulger brothers kiss arse of all times!  It wasn't just the FBI that knew what was going on, Barnicle and the Globe knew who ran things.

Openminded1
Openminded1

Hey black america a white man was found guilty of murder and many other charges and not one white person cried foul and pulled the race card, learn from that white juries put white people away too. There is no double standard with white juries.

Openminded1
Openminded1

@SophiaGraham No one cares about your friends mother moron stay off this site and send out flyers instead.

SmailBuzzby
SmailBuzzby

@SophiaGraham - Sometimes your mom gets tips from the truckers that pay her $60 an hour in the bathroom at the truckstop, but that doesn't mean that she really makes $78 per hour, does it?

mark120953
mark120953

@OswaldoLe'mon Sorry to disagree but Mr.Barnicle did good work at the Boston Globe,was not an arse kisser,told the truth or as much as he knew about the Bulger operations and even if he is on the sorry Morning Joe broadcast,has kept his good reputation.

berryls
berryls

@Openminded1 False comparison.  Bulger was a mobster and can't be compared to anyone else.  Nobody could believe him innocent.

JohnWhitehurst
JohnWhitehurst

@Openminded1 

Tellling it to race baiters who make money will not get it done. Blacks educating blacks will but it will be a long process.

Openminded1
Openminded1

@berryls @Openminded1 Yes it is a a bad comparison, but the facts remain the same no matter what the case, whites do not use the race card no matter who is involved .

Openminded1
Openminded1

@realghostbuster what part of the country is that? Because if that is happening some white people need to go to jail.

realghostbuster
realghostbuster

If white people were being persecuted by black people, they sure as heck would.  Luckily for us, this country was built by white people, for white people and in some parts of the country it is still considered forgiveable to torture and kill someone whose black for whistling at a white woman.