Hollow justice

By DAVID BOERI  |  October 5, 2011


On the morning after Bulger's arrest this past June, Robert Mueller III, the director of the FBI, flew into town under the radar to shake every hand in the Boston office and congratulate them for the capture of the fugitive octogenarian.

Praise seemed in order. Here, where the Bulger search was headquartered, they'd gotten their man, even if most of these agents were in grade school back when their man was at the height of his power in the murderous '80s.

Mueller has a special connection to Boston. He was here during the '80s as an assistant US attorney, the first assistant to US Attorney William Weld, and eventually as acting US attorney. At the time, the Boston FBI was flush with success against the Mafia, though one can understand why Mueller might not care to highlight that part of his résumé — the war against organized crime turned out to have been dirty. And Whitey Bulger was in the middle of it.

Though no one suggests Mueller knew back then what was going on, agents in the organized-crime squad during his time here were either protecting the gangster's back, aiding and abetting his crimes, or squealing about which criminals were informing on him.

One would think Mueller might now be curious about the extent of what happened in the FBI office back then, while he was here, and continuing until he became FBI director in 2001. But he hasn't shown it. For nine years, in fact, he and the bureau fought off the call to allow the US Marshals Service to join the hunt for Bulger. (When the FBI relented 10 months ago, they were joined by a US marshal who's now credited with pursuing the one tip that did lead to Bulger's arrest.)

And Mueller has continued the bureau's tradition of shirking responsibility. He's never called to offer his condolences to the families of victims Bulger allegedly murdered after being warned by Connolly that the men were cooperating with the law. "The only one who ever apologized to me was Stephen Flemmi," said Christopher McIntyre, whose brother was one of the murdered informants. "Flemmi's a fucking monster," he told me. "But at his sentencing he apologized. The FBI hasn't."

A Whitey Bulger trial could change all that: whether the FBI and the Justice Department like it or not, those old FBI agents who never got prosecuted are back in play.

After all, it was for no small reason that Bulger could look out from Southie onto downtown Boston and say, according to Weeks, "I own this town."

"He used to claim he had six FBI agents up there he could call on at any time," Weeks told me, "and they would be willing to hop in the car with a machine gun and go on a hit with him."

Wouldn't it be nice to know which six FBI agents they were?

Robert Fitzpatrick, who joined the FBI's Boston office as a supervisory agent in 1980, says he can name at least six agents who worked in the Boston office in the '70s and '80s who were corrupt. After Fitzpatrick recommended that the FBI get rid of Whitey as an informant, he says, the bureau eventually got rid of him instead.

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Related: Whitey Bulger and the Feds: The final act, BOOK EXCERPT: Just Don't Clip Anyone: First days as an informant, Brass balls and cold steel, More more >
  Topics: News Features , Crime, Santa Monica, Whitey Bulger,  More more >
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  •   HOLLOW JUSTICE  |  October 05, 2011
    When Whitey Bulger was arrested in Santa Monica, California, this summer, it may have seemed that a new day had dawned for the local FBI and for the Justice Department.
    I get a lot of calls about Bulger, but this one was different.

 See all articles by: DAVID BOERI