U.S. District Judge Edward F. Harrington was the first defense witness Tuesday at Connolly's trial in Miami on murder and conspiracy charges, The Hartford Courant reports.
"John Connolly had a great ability and he had a certain flair that attracted a confidence and trust with underworld figures," said Harrington, a self-described expert on organized crime. "He had several top-echelon underworld informants that he handled who provided the federal government with enormous and critical intelligence."
The judge's testimony was in sharp contrast to that of several former gangsters who testified last month that Connolly, 68, convinced them that they had to kill Winter Hill Gang associate John B. Callahan to stay out of prison themselves.
One gang witness said Connolly was paid more than $250,000 as Winter Hill's mole in the FBI.