FBI agent says cultivating informants key to promotion

July 29, 2013 at 2:41 PM
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BOSTON, July 29 (UPI) -- Attorneys for James "Whitey" Bulger called their first of an expected 15 witnesses, a retired FBI agent critical of how the Boston FBI office was run.

Robert Fitzpatrick, who rose to the level of assistant special-agent-in-charge of the Boston FBI office, told jurors if agents wanted to be promoted they had to cultivate informants. Failure to do so would be seen as "a problem," The Boston Globe reported Monday.

Bulger is accused in a sweeping federal indictment of racketeering and drug trafficking. He's accused of working and and sometimes manipulating corrupt FBI agents who swapped information with Bulger about other organized crime elements and looked the other way for years while Bulger's Winter Hill gang engaged in criminal activity.

Fitzpatrick tried unsuccessfully in the early 1970s to stop his FBI colleagues from using Bulger as an informant.

In another trial issue, Bulger's lawyers say they want the federal jury sequestered once it gets the case.

Defense attorneys filed the sequestration motion Sunday night, citing media coverage as the reason they want the jurors shielded from the media while they deliberate Bulger's fate, the Globe reported.

"The nature of the publicity in this case is ... that the articles published about the defendant have extended far beyond mere recounting of testimony and have characterized the defendant in an extremely prejudicial manner," the attorneys wrote.

The defense begins presenting its witnesses Monday, the newspaper said.

The newspaper said defense attorneys singled out Globe columnist Kevin Cullen's columns as examples of negative media coverage of their client. In one piece, Cullen suggested the creation of a game show called "The Biggest Scumbag" following testimony by former Bulger associate Stephen "The Rifleman" Flemmi.

"It is imperative that the jury be free from the influence of the highly prejudicial commentary emanating from media outlets," the lawyers wrote in their motion to U.S. District Court Judge Denise J. Casper. "Although the jury was not sequestered during the trial and has been instructed not to read media reports, the defendant urges the court to mandate the necessary precautionary measures to ensure that jury deliberations are conducted free from any influence from the media as to what the verdict ought to be."

Federal prosecutors had not yet responded to the motion, the Globe said.

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