Joe Bruno on the Mob – Whitey Bulger Says He Was Given Permission by the Feds to Commit Crimes, Including Murder

Oct. 25, 2012


As far as legal defenses go, this one really takes the cake.

Former Boston crime boss Whitey Bulger’s lawyer’s claims the charges against him, including 19 murders, should be thrown out because Bulger said he was given permission by the FBI to commit any crime he pleased as long as he remained an informant for the government. Not only is Bulger’s lawyer, J.W. Carney Jr., making this ridiculous claim, but Carney even named the person who gave Bulger this supposed immunity. Unfortunately, that man, Federal prosecutor Jeremiah O’Sullivan, is now dead.

Not only does Carney claim that O’Sullivan gave Bulger carte blanche to commit crimes, Carney also wants the presiding judge on Bulger’s case, Judge Richard G. Stearns, to recuse himself from Bulger’s case because Stearns worked as a Federal prosecutor at the same time Sullivan did (in the late 1970’s and throughout the 1980’s) and Sterns should have known about the doozy deal Sullivan had worked out with Bulger,

The only problem with Bulger’s argument is that, according to Brian T. Kelly, one of the prosecutors in his case, “In 2002 Sullivan testified under oath before Congress that he never extended immunity to either James Bulger or Stephen Flemmi. And the First Circuit has already held that O’Sullivan was unaware of any promise of immunity to either Bulger or Flemmi (Bulger’s partner in crime for many years.)”

Judge Stearns quickly struck down Carney’s attempt to have him recuse himself from the case. Stearns said in his ruling, “I have no doubt whatsoever about my ability to remain impartial at all times while presiding over the case.”

Judge Stearns also said while he was a Federal prosecutor he “had no knowledge of any case or investigation in which Bulger was a subject or a target.”

This is a case of Bulger’s attorney throwing a Hail Mary pass with no time remaining on the clock. However, fortunately for the state of Massachusetts and humanity at large, Judge Stearns swatted it down before it even got close to the goal line.

What’s next for Bulger’s defense?

Will Carney claim that not only did the FBI give Bulger permission to commit crimes, but even aided him in doing so? This is not so far-fetched as it seems, since former FBI agent John Connelly is now doing 40 years in prison because he was convicted of giving Bulger information that led to the murder of a witness who was about to testify against Boston mob members, including Bulger. Connelly will do anything to get out of prison, and if Connelly takes the stand in Bulger’s trial (Carney said he will call Connelly as a witness and that Bulger will also take the stand in his own defense) and confirms that O’Sullivan indeed did give Bulger immunity to commit crimes, this case could become very sticky.

Who will the jury believe – a crime lord like Whitey Bulger and a convicted and disgraced FBI agent like John Connelly? Or will the jury believe the swore testimony of a highly decorated FBI prosecutor who just happens to be dead.

I’ll go with the dead guy.


P.S. Carney’s services are being paid, not by Bulger, who claims he is indigent, but by the state of Massachusetts.

When Bulger was captured in early 2011 in a condo in Santa Monica, Cal, along with his moll Catherine Grieg, the FBI found over $800,000 hidden in the walls of a condo. Bulger swears this was all the money he had in the whole wide world, and if you believe that, there’s a condo in Libya I’d like to sell you.








Defense lawyers name Jeremiah O’Sullivan as federal agent who granted James ‘Whitey’ Bulger immunity to commit crimes



By Milton J. Valencia and Travis Andersen, Globe Staff

Lawyers for James “Whitey” Bulger have identified the late federal prosecutor Jeremiah O’Sullivan as the federal agent who allegedly gave the notorious gangster immunity to commit his reign of terror.

Attorney JW. Carney Jr.., of Boston, made the bombshell allegation in a court filing late Wednesday in which he again called for a US District Court judge to recuse himself from presiding over the case. He said the judge has an apparent conflict of interest as a former prosecutor who worked at the same time as O’Sullivan, a former US attorney who died in 2009 at age 66.

Carney said he may call US District Court Judge Richard G. Stearns and other former prosecutors as witnesses to testify about the leeway that the leadership within the US attorney’s office gave Bulger, and their failure for years to charge him with any crimes, which he said would speak to the immunity agreement that Bulger claims he had.

Stearns was a former federal prosecutor and chief of the criminal division during part of Bulger’s alleged reign of terror, in the 1970s and 1980s. The judge was not part of the New England Organized Crime Strike Force that had an apparent relationship with Bulger at the time, however, and he has maintained he did not know that Bulger was the target of any investigation.

Carney argued that there was no line dividing work between the Strike Force and the US attorney’s office, and so prosecutors from both units shared and were aware of investigations.

The judge refused an initial request to recuse himself in July, citing the high standards that must be met for a judge to have to recuse himself for conflict of interest concerns.

“I have no doubt whatsoever about my ability to remain impartial at all times while presiding over the case,” the judge said in his ruling, maintaining that he had no knowledge “of any case or investigation” in which Bulger was “a subject or a target.”

But Carney said Bulger’s reputation was well known, or should have been, particularly among leaders in the US attorney’s office.

He also said that the notorious gangster, now 83, will testify to support his claim. He said Bulger will provide “a detailed account of his receipt of immunity by O’Sullivan,” who was a member of the strike force and at one point its chief.

In one example, Carney said, Bulger will discuss an occasion in which O’Sullivan allegedly ordered that Bulger be removed from a list of targets in a horse race-fixing scheme in the early 1980s.

Brian T. Kelly, one of the prosecutors in the case, wrote a letter to Carney on Friday in which he said the government has provided defense counsel with ample materials pertaining to O’Sullivan, as requested, calling it typical procedure in the case.

He offered on his own, however, that “the First Circuit has already held that O’Sullivan was unaware of any promise of immunity.”

He added, “O’Sullivan himself testified under oath before Congress that he never extended immunity to either James Bulger or Stephen Flemmi.”

Carney added that, in addition to Stearns, he would call other US Department of Justice leaders to testify as to why Bulger was never charged by the federal government. Those leaders would include FBI director Robert Mueller, who served as a federal prosecutor and chief of the criminal division in Massachusetts in the early 1980s, and with whom Stearns has a close relationship.

Carney said he will introduce evidence from a courthouse ceremony where Mueller characterized Stearns as a “friend and mentor,” and in which Stearns called the FBI director’s speech “the greatest tribute that a friend could pay.”

Bulger’s lead lawyer questioned whether Stearns could remain impartial in deciding whether he and Mueller could be called as a credible witness to testify about the immunity agreement, which has emerged as Bulger’s main point of defense in a trial that could trigger the death sentence.

“Federal law mandates in this situation that Judge Stearns recuse himself from this case,” Carney said in a 24-page motion filed late Wednesday. “The law – and common sense – says that a person cannot be both judge and witness. …To do so otherwise will put an irreparable taint on the public’s view of the fairness of the defendant’s trial, and allow citizens to believe that the infamous cover-up of misconduct by past members of the Department of Justice, the United States’ attorney’s office, and the FBI is continuing.”

Carney noted that Bulger was not accused of any crimes in a federal indictment until after Stearns, Mueller, and O’Sullivan left office, and he argued that their testimony will focus on why that did not happen. That should be up to a jury to decide, he said.

Bulger was once of America’s Most Wanted until his arrest in June 2011 after 16 years on the lam. He is accused in a federal racketeering indictment of participating in 19 murders.

He is also the notorious gangster at the center of one of the most scandalous periods in the history of the FBI. A series of hearings in Boston in the 1990s exposed a corrupt relationship between him and his FBI handlers. During that time, he was allegedly allowed to carry out crimes including murders in exchange for working as a cooperating witness against the New England Mafia.

Carney has claimed Bulger was granted immunity in exchange for his cooperation, though legal analysts have questioned whether anyone could have had a right to kill, as Bulger claims.

Federal prosecutors, who have argued that Stearns does not have to recuse himself, also deny that Bulger had any claim of immunity.

O’Sullivan suffered a heart attack and several strokes in 1998 when he was slated to testify about Bulger and Flemmi before US District Court Judge Mark L. Wolf. O’Sullivan was in a coma for a month.

In 2002, O’Sullivan was called before Congress during the Government Reform Committee’s investigation of the Boston FBI. He denied ever protecting Bulger and Flemmi from prosecution for serious crimes.

O’Sullivan acknowledged dropping the pair from a 1978 race-fixing case against the Winter Hill Gang, of Somerville, because he said he considered them small-time players and was focused on gang leader Howie Winter.

Grilled by the committee, O’Sullivan said he could not go against the FBI in those days. “They will try to get you. They will wage war on you,” he said.

Milton Valencia can be reached at and Travis Andersen can be reached at

A federal judge today rejected a request by lawyers for James “Whitey” Bulger to recuse himself from the long-anticipated trial of the notorious gangster, saying he has no conflict of interest in the case.

“I am confident that no reasonable person could doubt my impartiality,” said US District Judge Richard G. Stearns. “I have no doubt whatsoever about my ability to remain impartial at all times while presiding over this case.”

Lawyers for Bulger had alleged that Stearns would have a conflict because the judge was once a federal prosecutor, including during times when Bulger allegedly committed his crimes several decades ago. The judge was also head of the US attorney’s office’s criminal division during part of that time.

Bulger’s lawyers have indicated they may call the judge to testify as a witness as part of a motion to have the case dismissed. That motion will be based on Bulger’s argument that he was granted immunity from prosecution for his crimes because he was working as an FBI informant.

The lawyers alleged that Stearns had either known, or should have known, of Bulger’s immunity deal.

But Stearns argued that he has no reason to recuse himself and that he would not be considered a material witness in the proceedings: the standard a judge must follow in recusing himself. He said he did not participate in, or have any knowledge of, any case or investigation in which Bulger was a subject or a target.

“I have nothing of a relevant or material nature to offer with regard to this case or any claim of immunity,” the judge said in an 11-page order issued today.

“There is a long-standing presumption of judicial impartiality in the federal courts of the United States, including those of the First Circuit. This presumption is not overcome by specious and unsupported factual allegations,” he wrote.

Also today, a federal magistrate judge lifted a protective order limiting the disclosure of evidence gathered by the government in the case.

The order by US Magistrate Judge Marianne Bowler had barred Bulger’s legal team from sharing evidence provided by the government with anyone except witnesses and people mentioned in court records. Bulger’s lawyers had contended they needed to share the information under seal with other people to properly defend their client. The Boston Globe also sought to have the order lifted.

Bowler lifted most of the order during a hearing this afternoon. She said she would issue a detailed order today on the types of information that must remain under seal. The order will not go into effect for two weeks, though, during which time prosecutors will be given a chance to identify records they believe should be sealed.

Carney said the order would allow the defense team to share some of the “hundreds of thousands” of documents with outside lawyers, for example, so they could discuss strategy, and groups such as focus groups or groups of friends and relatives “that a lawyer traditionally runs his or her case past” to get some feedback.

“These steps are taken by every competent lawyer in preparing for a trial. We’ve been unable to do so but now with Judge Bowler’s order, we expect we will be able to have those discussions.”

Bulger, 82, was one of America’s most wanted fugitives before his arrest in June 2011 after more than 16 years. He is set to go to trial in March that alleges he participated in 19 murders. Prosecutors and defense attorneys are set to appear in court today at a routine status hearing.

Martin Finucane of the Globe staff contributed to this report. Milton Valencia can be reached at



4 Responses to “Joe Bruno on the Mob – Whitey Bulger Says He Was Given Permission by the Feds to Commit Crimes, Including Murder”

  1. Fiona hutton Says:

    funny how until you are in federal court you believe the innocent till proven guilty crap. former fed pros. paul kelly was told in federal court worcester by judge hillman in US v.Lemieux case he was dangerously close to becoming a witness due to his statements in defense of client mark lemieux and would have to recluse himself. you can be judge and former pros but not former pros and private practice defense attorney??!!!

    • There have been several prosecutors who became private defense attorneys. Ed McDonald comes to mind. He turned Henry Hill and prosecuted all of Hill’s pals. He’s now a private defense attorney.

  2. The Feds are the real frauds bruno get your shit straight Uncle Whitey did the feds dirty work

    • I absolutely agree with you. The Feds did the same thing with Danny Greene in Cleveland, and with Greg Scarpa in New York City. In my mind, the Feds are responsible for the many murders committed by Bulger, Greene and Scarpa after they became informers. The Feds are supposed to protect innocent citizens, not murderers and criminals.

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