Ex-FBI agent sentenced to 10 years


BOSTON, Sept. 16 (UPI) -- A retired FBI special agent, who has been credited with putting many New England Mafia figures behind bars, was sentenced to 10 years and one month in federal prison Monday for becoming partners in crime with his underworld informants.

A federal judge imposed the maximum sentence on John J. Connolly Jr., 62, for racketeering, obstruction of justice, lying to the FBI, bribery and leaking FBI information to notorious Boston gang informants James "Whitey" Bulger and Stephen "The Rifleman" Flemmi.


U.S. District Court Judge Joseph L. Tauro said the government had "zero tolerance" for the kinds of acts for which Connolly was convicted after a 2-week trial in May.

Connolly, who showed no emotion when sentenced, was immediately taken into federal custody after the judge rejected a defense motion that he remain free pending appeal.


As he was led away by federal marshals, he blew a kiss to his wife. Their three sons did not attend the sentencing.

Connolly has insisted he was only following the orders of supervisors in handling his prized informants.

Asking the judge for a more lenient sentence, defense attorney Tracy Miner said Connolly was "forced" to conspire with the gangsters by his FBI supervisors. She said she planned to appeal.

Tauro said the "most serious offense" was a letter Connolly wrote anonymously to U.S. District Judge Mark Wolf in 1997 when Wolf was investigating Flemmi's claim he and Bulger had been authorized by the FBI to continue their criminal activities in exchange for information against the Mafia.

Jurors found that the Connolly letter suggesting some evidence against Flemmi had been fabricated by a Boston police detective amounted to obstruction of justice.

"I never intended to commit a crime," Connolly said after his conviction, claiming he never knew that Bulger and Flemmi continued to commit crimes, including murder, while providing the agent with information against the Italian Mafia.

Bulger and Flemmi, the bosses of the South Boston-based, Irish-dominated Winter Hill Gang, have been charged with 22 underworld slayings.

Flemmi is serving 10 years for racketeering and also faces trial for murder.


Bulger has been a fugitive since 1995 when Connolly tipped him off to an impending indictment. He is one of the FBI's 10 Most Wanted criminals.

Connolly retired from the FBI 12 years ago following a 22-year career.

Connolly, who grew up in the same South Boston neighborhood as Bulger, recruited the gang leader as an informant in 1975, and over the years developed information that led to the conviction and imprisonment of a number of Mafia bosses.

His informants, meanwhile, continued to commit crimes with impunity as Connolly undermined efforts to prosecute them.

The lead prosecutor in the case, Special U.S. Attorney John Durham, wrote to the judge urging a stiffer sentence for Connolly. He said that by helping Bulger flee, Connolly "has left a black mark on virtually all of law enforcement, but most particularly federal law enforcement."

During Connolly's trial, former Bulger associates hit man John Martorano -- who admits to killing 20 people -- and enforcer Kevin J. Weeks testified Bulger and Flemmi for years made cash payoffs to the agent.

Convicted New England Mafia boss Francis P. "Cadillac Frank" Salemme also testified about bribes paid to Connolly.


The case has touched off ongoing investigations by Congress and the Justice Department. The House Government Reform Committee reportedly will conduct more hearings into the case next month.

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