Friday, January 16, 2009

John Connolly ex-FBI Agent Sentenced to 40 Years

CNN reports on the final chapter on the John Connolly story. He's the ex-FBI agent who inspired the role of Matt Damon in The Departed. In discussing this case before, here and here, I don't think much sympathy for Connolly was expressed. I myself thought he was certainly guilty; after all, he's already serving 10 years for racketeering. Now it's been bumped up to 40 for Second Degree Murder.

The cast of characters in the trial must have been something. Whitey Bulger, absent because he's on the run, was the boss of the Boston mob that Connolly was involved with. Stephen Flemmi was a high ranking member of the gang, now in prison. John Callahan was the World Jai-Alai exec targeted in the murder. John Martorano was the hit man sent to kill him based on information provided by Connolly.

But what I noticed is this:
During the first two decades of his FBI career, Connolly won kudos in the bureau's Boston office, cultivating informants against New England mobsters. Prosecutors said Connolly was corrupted by his two highest-ranking snitches: Bulger and Stephen "The Rifleman" Flemmi.

During testimony, jurors heard that Connolly was on the mob payroll, collecting $235,000 from Bulger and Flemmi while shielding his mob pals from prosecution and leaking the identities of informants.

Isn't that what an undercover agent is supposed to do? Isn't this a perfect description of the dilemma often faced by undercover people: where to draw the line. By shielding his mob friends and providing information to them and by taking the money wasn't he solidifying his position with them in order to perhaps ultimately get the big guy? What do you think?

What lends credence to this idea is the fact that the real Donnie Brasco, Joseph Pistone, might have testified about the difficulties faced in covert situations like this, but he refused to take the stand after the judge denied his request to testify anonymously.

Might Pistone have been able to convince the jury that Connolly was just doing his job?

And, whatever happened to Bulger? Well you can see him on the FBI's top 10, right under Usama.


  1. "Might Pistone have been able to convince the jury that Connolly was just doing his job?"

    Seeing as Connoly's job was to bring down Whitey Bulger...and instead it's belived Connnolly was instumental in Whitey's escape.

    I fail to see how he possibly could have been doing his job....rather than turing into a visious meat-eating crooked cop.

  2. I think you're right, Weer'd. It's just that reading this final episode, it suddenly occurred to me that Connolly had a good defense, not unlike O.J. recently. I guess I'm backing some losers lately. Even Lillo, whom I wanted to get off on the murder rap, got whacked for 10 by the judge. Maybe these three cases disprove that old theory that you can buy your way out of trouble like this. In many cases, if the government comes after you, you've had it. What do you think?