The Winter Hill Gang in Boston, the Massachusetts State Police, and Massachusetts division of FBI all seemed to be interwoven. Whether it is on the Federal, State, or city level, the current use of informants makes good law enforcement go bad. As bad as it was in Boston, the integration of the "mob" into law enforcement, the courts, State Government, and a State's FBI probably can't get any worse than Connecticut is right now.Florida authorites allegedly threw out the Connecticut State Police investigators off the case of the below down in Florida. The Connecticut State Police were thought to be too corrupt, dirty, and involved to be part of an honest investigation in Florida. Their ethics are probably even worse now, than then. The below should be enough of a diagram to understand the current problem. Former World Jai-Alai President John B. Callahan. Oklahoma and Florida grand juries indicted two reputed Boston mobsters and an alleged triggerman March 14, 2001 in Callahan's murder. (AP Photo/Miami Herald)The below [found here]Case Of The Fatal Tip Goes To Trial
By EDMUND H. MAHONY | Courant Staff Writer
September 14, 2008
Three Connecticut investigators working the case of their careers were understandably nervous when they disembarked at Miami International Airport and stepped into a sultry south Florida morning a quarter-century ago.
Then everything fell apart.
The investigators almost stumbled over the body of the witness they had flown south to hunt. Someone had emptied a semiautomatic pistol into John B. Callahan, a financial adviser to one of New England's most dangerous criminal mobs, the Winter Hill Gang. A parking attendant found him leaking from the trunk of his low-mileage Cadillac in an airport garage.
The 1982 slaying was a blow to law enforcement, not only in Connecticut, but also in Massachusetts, Florida and Oklahoma. Detectives lost their best and, it seemed, last opportunity to unravel a string of murders that appeared to grow from a convergence of organized crime, corrupt federal lawmen and the sport of jai alai, then the centerpiece of Connecticut's new, legalized gambling industry.
But this week, in a Miami court, prosecutors are expected to tell a jury that after 26 years, they finally have the evidence to go to trial in the Callahan shooting, one of the country's most frustrating murder mysteries.
Depending on how the case unfolds, it could settle lingering questions about how violent criminals in Boston, supported by corrupt federal agents, tried to win a foothold in what was once a fast-growing segment of the U.S. parimutuel industry.
Prosecutors concede that theirs won't be an easy case to make.
The man on trial for murder and conspiracy is John J. Connolly, a decorated former FBI agent who was more than 1,000 miles away, in Boston, when Callahan died. The principal witnesses against Connolly will be gangsters who, collectively, have taken credit for about 30 murders.
But the trial could mark the end of a long fall for Connolly. He once was featured in an FBI film produced to teach agents how to recruit mob informants. But for more than a decade he has stood accused of crossing the line, taking nearly $250,000 in payoffs to protect the criminals he was supposed to be locking up.
In 2002, he was sentenced to 10 years in prison after being convicted in federal court in Boston of racketeering. He faces life in prison if convicted of murder and conspiracy in state court in Florida.
Prosecutors will argue that Connolly tipped leaders of the Winter Hill Gang that investigators were searching for Callahan in an effort to press him to implicate the gang leaders in an earlier jai alai-related killing.
The tip ended Callahan's life, the prosecutors will argue. Rather than a recruiter of informants, they will say Connolly had become one — the Winter Hill Gang's man in the FBI.
A 'Prisoner Of War'
In letters to friends from his maximum-security prison cell, Connolly has portrayed himself as the victim of a cynical conspiracy by corrupt federal prosecutors, morally bankrupt detectives and gangsters trading perjured testimony for light sentences. Collectively, he says, they have made him a scapegoat for failures in the FBI's organized crime program in Boston.
"I'm a prisoner of war," he was quoted as saying in the September issue of Boston magazine.
Connolly's assertion notwithstanding, prosecutors say they can win their case even if their witness list includes a rogues' gallery of murderers and Connolly's disgraced former FBI supervisor, who himself admitted taking $7,000 in cash from Winter Hill members. Jury selection began last week. Opening statements are expected this week.
"I've tried lots of cases where jurors have not liked some witnesses personally," said Michael Von Zamft, the Florida prosecutor in Connolly's case. "But that does not make them not believable."
Besides making palatable an unsavory list of witnesses, prosecutors may have to make sense to jurors of a complicated narrative reaching back more than 30 years, some of which has been disclosed through previous legal hearings and trials.
By the 1970s, jai alai, a Basque sport exported to South Florida, had expanded to New England. It is a fast-paced game, a sort of extreme handball. Players use long wicker baskets to sling a hard ball against a towering wall. Gamblers bet on various outcomes of the games. By the 1980s, there were three jai alai frontons, or arenas, in Connecticut.
At roughly the same time jai alai was expanding, Connolly was making a name for himself in Boston as top mob buster.
But information disclosed through a variety of related legal proceedings suggests that he did so by entering into a sordid relationship with the bosses of the Winter Hill Gang, James "Whitey" Bulger and Stephen "The Rifleman" Flemmi.
Connolly is accused of using his considerable influence in New England law enforcement to protect Bulger and Flemmi from prosecution. The gangsters, in turn, gave Connolly the information he needed to build cases against the Italian mafia — the Winter Hill gang's chief underworld rivals and the FBI's highest-priority target. In internal FBI records, Connolly listed Bulger and Flemmi as informants.
As Connolly's reputation as a crack lawman and the Winter Hill Gang's reputation as untouchable were growing in Boston, the three Connecticut investigators — state police detective Daniel Goslicki and prosecutors Austin McGuigan and Kevin Kane — arrived in Miami in search of Callahan.
They had traveled south with instructions to clean up jai alai. Problem was, the gangsters seemed to have second sight; the mob was always a step ahead of the police in Connecticut and just about everywhere else.
Connecticut investigators had long known about Callahan. In the mid-1970s, he had used his position as a consulting accountant to insert himself as president of World Jai Alai, the company that owned Hartford Jai Alai and several venues in south Florida.
One of Callahan's first hires was H. Paul Rico, another Boston FBI agent. Much later, in 2003, Rico would be charged in a jai alai-related murder. He died in prison before he could be tried.
Years before his arrest, while Rico was employed as World Jai alai's security chief, a Connecticut state police detective described him as "so crooked you could screw him into the ground."
Such suspicions prompted Connecticut authorities to put a tail on Callahan, Rico's boss. In one month, a Connecticut state police detective learned that Callahan met Winter Hill members or their associates 10 times at Boston's Playboy Club.
The surveillance forced Callahan to resign from World Jai Alai. He quickly became a player in efforts to buy the company, but the owners decided to sell to Roger Wheeler Sr., an enormously wealthy Tulsa, Okla., Sunday school teacher with diverse business interests.
Immediately after acquiring the business in 1979, Wheeler began expressing concern to friends about his personal safety and his belief that gangsters from New England had targeted his business. He was shot to death outside his Tulsa country club on May 27, 1981.
Wheeler's death raised concern around the country about the integrity of jai alai.
Detectives in Connecticut, Massachusetts and Tulsa learned a year later, through back channel sources, that a disaffected Winter Hill thug named Edward Brian Halloran was talking to FBI agents in Boston about the Wheeler murder. Halloran was trying to beat a murder charge of his own, and he wanted to be admitted to the federal witness protection program.
Halloran told the FBI that Callahan, Bulger and Flemmi had tried to recruit him to murder Wheeler. Halloran said it was his impression that the three had a financial interest in World Jai Alai. The FBI did not share the information with other police agencies involved in jai alai-related cases, apparently to protect Connolly's ostensible informants, Bulger and Flemmi.
Halloran ultimately was denied entry to the witness program. Five months later, on May 12, 1982, he was cut down in a rifle attack on a South Boston street. Authorities say he was killed by Bulger and other Winter Hill members.
'He Was Murdered'
All of a sudden, Callahan was enormously important. Detectives with an interest in jai alai viewed him as the last best lead in the Wheeler murder. Other, more sanguine detectives were betting on when he would turn up dead. Connecticut investigators suspected that Callahan was laundering money and hoped to use the information to leverage him to talk about Wheeler's death. They were too late.
If Connolly is convicted following what could be a two-month trial in Miami, it will have been through the testimony of the criminals he is accused of protecting.
In 1995, having realized that the FBI's Boston office was full of leaks when it came to Bulger, Flemmi and the Winter Hill Gang, the Massachusetts State Police and the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration finally succeeded in obtaining an indictment without FBI involvement.
According to evidence presented previously in related cases, Connolly managed to learn in advance about the indictment. He tipped Bulger, who in turn tipped Flemmi. Bulger fled immediately and remains a fugitive. He is now on the FBI's 10 Most Wanted list. This month, the Department of Justice increased the reward for his capture to $2 million.
Flemmi dawdled, and was arrested. Facing as many as 10 murder charges, Flemmi decided that his best defense was to give up Connolly. Others in the Winter Hill gang did the same, among them John Martorano, who has admitted killing 20 people, including his former close friend Callahan.
Martorano has said he and a partner dumped Callahan in the airport garage and left his wallet in Little Havana in an effort to create a false trail for the police.
Flemmi is serving a life sentence. Martorano reached a cooperation agreement with federal prosecutors and is free after serving 12 years. Another gang member, Joseph McDonald, died before he could be charged.
Flemmi previewed his likely testimony against Connolly in a civil deposition in June 2006:
He said Connolly tipped Bulger in 1982 that authorities were zeroing in on Callahan. Connolly warned that Callahan was a weakling who would fold under pressure. When he did, Bulger, Flemmi and Martorano would go to prison. Martorano had been the triggerman in the Wheeler killing.
Bulger arranged a meeting with Flemmi and Martorano in New York. The purpose of the meeting, Flemmi said in the deposition, was to persuade Martorano that he had to kill his friend Callahan.
"We told him that the information came from John Connolly and to make Martorano aware that information came from John Connolly, that Callahan would be a weak link and would involve him, and he wouldn't be able to stand the pressure of going to prison for 20 years or life; and John Martorano also was under the cloud of going to prison for 20 years or life. He [Martorano] was a little reluctant because of his close relationship with John Callahan, but he was convinced he was a threat."
What happened next? Flemmi was asked.
"He was murdered," Flemmi said.Contact Edmund H. Mahony at firstname.lastname@example.org.For more photos of John J. Connolly, visit www.courant.com/connolly
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* * * *Are Connecticut legislators the main reason Public Corruption is allowed to prosper and flourish?