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Wednesday, May 28, 2003
Welcome to Massachusetts
This little item never made it into the Boston Globe, wasn't reported on TV or radio, and landed fairly deep in the Boston Herald. For those of you from outside the area, a little background might help. The whole thing is recounted in the book Black Mass (and I don't get anything from Amazon, thanks). The synopsis is this:

The FBI recruited Whitey Bulger, the brother of the then State Senate President, as an informant. Whitey was not just any informer -- he was the head of "the Irish Mob." His needs and those of the FBI dovetailed nicely since they both wanted to eliminate the Mafia in the area. Bulger was given a free pass to do as he pleased, up to and including murder. One of the corrupt FBI agents, John Connolly, was recently sent to jail. Connolly was obliging enough to finger victims for some of Whitey's killings, and tipped him off in time to evade arrest (he is still missing). There was rumored involvement with the State Police (one of them went to jail, too), the US District Attorney's office, and all other sorts of law enforcement agencies. The legendary Paul Rico, the FBI guy credited with bringing down the Angiulo and Patriarca families, may have been Whitey's original patron, but didn't recall much of anything when called before Congress to testify. In any event, even as far back as 1965, law enforcement was obliging enough to send 3 men to prison (originally sentenced to death!) for a murder committed by one of their informants.

Against that backdrop, the prosecuting attorney against Connolly's lookalike brother-in-law and fellow felon (doppelgangsters?) Arthur Giannelli forgot to call his star witness in an extortion trial. He didn't issue a subpoena. Instead, he sent a letter to the witness's former addresss -- in Arizona. (Didn't notice the 617 area code on the phone number, huh?) The witness found out about it when a reporter for the Herald called him the day of the hearing to find out why he hadn't appeared. No subpoena, no witness. No witness, no case. Case dismissed. The DA's spokesman described it as "an innocent mistake." Call it what you want, but "innocent" is not the first term that occurs to me. John Connolly was not the only rat in the barn.

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