Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Ex-FBI agent portrayed as 'just another' gangster

Prosecutor Fred Wyshak told a Florida jury Monday that ex-FBI agent John J. Connolly (right) functioned as "just another member" of the Boston area Winter Hill Gang in the 1980s, according to a story by Edmund H. Mahoney of the Hartford Courant. Connolly, 68, convicted in 2002 of racketeering and serving a 10-year prison sentence, is now on trial for murder and conspiracy.

Wyshak, U.S. attorney working with Florida state prosecutor Michael Von Zamft on the case, delivered the trial's opening statement. Wyshak said Connolly spent time with gang leaders, vacationed with them, shared information with them and profited from their illegal activities.

Connolly is charged with helping to set up the 1982 assassination of former World Jai Alai president John B. Callahan. According to prosecutors, Connolly informed Winter Hill Gang chiefs James "Whitey" Bulger and Stephen "the Rifleman" Flemmi that Callahan was preparing to cooperate in an investigation of an earlier gang murder. Gang hitman John V. Martorano then killed Callahan to prevent him from talking to authorities. Flemmi and Martorano have pleaded guilty to participating in Callahan's murder. They are expected to testify against Connolly. Bulger remains at large.

Defense attorneys argued that the gang needed no help to decide that Callahan was about to aid investigators. Attorney Manuel Casabielle defended Connolly's relationship with Bulger and Flemmi, saying the former FBI agent recruited them as informants and used the information they provided to dismantle the New England Mafia.

Casabielle charged that prosecutors have accused his client of various wrongdoings spanning a quarter century in the hope of winning convictions. "It's not fair to take a bunch of mud and throw it at an individual and hope some of it sticks," he said.

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Editor/publisher of crime history journal, Informer. Publisher of American Mafia history website mafiahistory.us. Moderator of Mafia-related Google+ community and Yahoo discussion group. Author of Wrongly Executed? Coauthor of Deep Water: Joseph P. Macheca and the Birth of the American Mafia and DiCarlo: Buffalo's First Family of Crime. Contributor of American Mafia history to Australian-published Mafia: The Necessary Reference to Organized Crime. Writer/co-writer of crime history articles for Informer, On the Spot Journal, Cigar City Magazine, Tampa Mafia Magazine.