Thursday, September 18, 2008

FBI Agent on Trial for Murder and Conspiracy

CNN reports on the complicated trial of an FBI Agent mixed up with a Boston hit man who was convicted of killing a gambling czar in Miami in 1982. John Martorano spent just over 12 years in prison after pleading guilty to killing the former World Jai-Alai president John Callahan and admitting to 19 other murders. Now free, the 67-year-old's agreement with prosecutors requires him to testify against John Connolly, former Agent with the FBI.

CBS Springfield has a good description of the intricacies of the case.

A hit man for Boston's notorious Winter Hill Gang pulled the trigger that killed John Callahan, but Connolly was equally responsible, prosecutor Fred Wyshak told a jury. Wyshak is a Boston federal prosecutor working as a special assistant in the Miami trial."He gave sensitive information to gangsters, who used that information to protect themselves. And (they) used that information to kill people. One of those people was John Callahan," Wyshak said of Connolly.

Connolly, 68, faces life in prison if convicted of first-degree murder and murder conspiracy charges.

What occurs to me is that people like this hit man, Martorano, are much more culpable than some of the other characters we've discussed on this blog. Joseph Edward Duncan III, for example and Richard Cooey are men who have committed horrible crimes, for sure, but should be considered to have diminished capacity. The viciousness of their actions alone could be evidence of mental illness, but I'll bet there's a history of childhood abuse in both their cases. Little boys don't grow up to do that stuff otherwise.

The mob hit man, on the other hand, who received a sentence of 12 years, was recruited for the job because he was friends with the target. He "reluctantly" agreed to kill Callahan in Miami. To me that's more frightening and horrible than anything a mentally deranged young man might do.

The FBI Agent, Connolly, who's on trial now, not only fingered people to be murdered, but in so doing betrayed the public trust of his oath of office. That's far worse in my opinion than what the sickest murderers out there get up to.

Even in these cases, I oppose the death penalty. But in an attempt to establish a hierarchy of evil behaviour, I put these characters at the top, and then we can list the others.

What's your opinion?


  1. And their Boss, James "Whitey" Bulger is still at large (There actuly was a false sighting in your neck of the woods, Mike, less than a year ago). Bulger got away most likely with some help from Zip Connolly, but also from his brother, Politician William Bulger.

    This is all from my neck of the woods, and one of my big complaints is that the judges that are pointed (by men who have broken bread with BOTH Bulgers!) are altogether to lenient on violent offenders, quick to brand them a "Victim of Society" and let their violent crimes go unpunished.

    Still in this case it goes further than that. The corruption and power that the Winter Hill gang had went likely all the way to the State House, and free passes, and lax sentences abound in related stories.

    Problems like THIS are problems that need to be hammered out and fixed LONG before we start talking gun laws. What's the point of passing ANY laws when murderers and coke dealers are rubbing elbows with the judges that enforce them?

  2. I guess everyone's too busy arguing on the other threads to answer my question on this one. What's worse, a deranged and violent killer or one of these cold-blooded hit men?

  3. i'm not sure it's possible to easily rank evil on any simple linear scale, Mike. it might be that the two are evil in different ways, so as to make them not easily comparable.

    but you do have a point --- the cold-blooded, calculating, abuse of power and authority which you call the worse of the two certainly shouldn't be counted as the less dangerous one.

    that kind of violence and betrayal of trust smacks of intelligence, and the ability to use intelligence to do harm; that's potentially much more hazardous than a more brutal, more obviously violent, person who's not too bright and fails to use their mind fully in their crimes.

  4. Mike,

    Most killers don't have diminished capacity, would you agree?

    I see nothing in the cases of the two you pointed out Duncan or Cooey that show diminished capacity. I think many people want to believe it because otherwise we have functioning, rational people committing horrendous acts.

    I think the assumption of abuse or mental illness is a defense against recognizing some people can willfully commit great evil.

    I agree with Nomen, there are multiple lines to judge this on. If I simply coldly kill my friend for money, I'm greedy and murderous. But if I kill most of a family, kidnap 2 children, rape, torture them. I'm breaking many more of the principles I should have, and probably was, supposed to uphold.

    I would ask if you are ranking them: Which act would most people have difficulty seeing themselves doing....that is the greater evil.