James “Whitey” Bulger fed the FBI information for 15 years about everyone from New York Mafia don John Gotti to some of his closest South Boston associates, sometimes blaming others for his own alleged crimes, according to detailed reports presented in court Monday.
FBI informant files shown to jurors at Bulger’s racketeering trial indicate that in 1980 he warned his handler that “an armored car score is going down in the very near future” and named six men involved, including his longtime friend Patrick Linskey of South Boston.
“They expect the score to be in excess of a million dollars,” top echelon informant 1544, code for Bulger, advised the FBI, according to the report. “[Bulger] advised that the weak link is Patty Linsky [sic] and although crafty, Linsky [sic] is a drinker and would be the logical one to tail.”
Jurors were shown several other documents Monday from Bulger’s informant reports, including one in which Bulger reported that Linskey and Tom Nee, one of the other men said to be plotting the armored car heist, had robbed a Brockton bank of approximately $100,000, according to the informant files.
The files appear to contradict Bulger’s assertions that he was never an informant. The 83-year-old gangster seemed visibly annoyed as he sat between his lawyers in US District Court in Boston, reading portions of the reports as they were displayed on screens.
Bulger — who was arrested in Santa Monica, Calif., two years ago after 16 years on the run — is charged in a sweeping racketeering indictment that alleges he participated in 19 murders; extorted bookmakers, drug dealers, and businessmen; laundered money; and stockpiled guns.
Prosecutors allege that Bulger was protected by FBI agents because he was an informant against the Mafia, and that a corrupt agent leaked him information that led to the slayings of three FBI informants and a potential witness.
The informant reports indicate Bulger was first listed as an informant in 1971, but his file was quickly closed because he was reluctant to talk. He was recruited again in 1975 and listed as an informant until December 1990, though he was closed for a year in the late 1970s while under investigation for fixing horse races.
The files show that Linskey, who was so close to Bulger that he gave him a cut of a $14.1 million lottery jackpot, was just one of scores of people named by Bulger. His informant files detail criminal exploits of well-known Mafiosi, bookmakers, Charlestown drug dealers, and South Boston fugitives. There were reports about the serious, such as murder, and the mundane, such as who was “on the outs with his wife.”
Bulger told the FBI that Francis “Cadillac Frank” Salemme, who was battling a rival faction for control of the New England mob in the spring of 1990, visited Mafia boss Gotti several times in New York City, including once for lunch at the Trump Tower, the reports say.
“[Bulger] advised that the Boston Mafia have John Gotti or [sic] their side and are applying the pressure to Raymond Patriarca Jr. to resign as Boss of the New England Mafia,” the files said.
The reports were introduced in court by James Marra, an agent for the Justice Department’s office of the inspector general, which investigates wrongdoing by federal employees. Bulger’s lawyers argued that Marra should not be allowed to present the informant files as fact, since he did not personally write the reports and cannot vouch for their accuracy.
During opening statements earlier this month, Bulger’s attorney, J.W. Carney Jr. said Bulger contends he paid former FBI agent John J. Connolly Jr., for confidential information, about wiretaps and ongoing investigations, which protected Bulger’s drug dealing, gambling, and loansharking enterprise while he raked in millions. Carney said Connolly falsely classified Bulger as an informant, then filled his file with phony reports to cover up their corrupt relationship.
But prosecutors set out to debunk that assertion Monday as Marra identified numerous reports indicating that Bulger met with many FBI agents and supervisors who took information from him and assessed his value as an informant.
Some of those agents will be called to testify, but Connolly is not on the witness list. He is currently serving a 40-year sentence for second-degree murder in Florida. In 2008, a Miami jury found he leaked information to Bulger and his partner, Stephen “The Rifleman” Flemmi, that led to the 1982 slaying of John Callahan, a potential witness.
On Monday, Marra presented a flurry of informant reports showing that Bulger and Flemmi, also an FBI informant, blamed others for the slaying of Callahan and the related murders of Tulsa businessman Roger Wheeler, FBI informant Edward “Brian” Halloran, and innocent bystander, Michael Donahue. The four slayings are among the 19 that Bulger is accused of participating in during the 1970s and 1980s.
In letters written last year from the Plymouth County Correctional Facility, where he is being held without bail, Bulger insisted he never provided information that sent anyone to jail.
Yet Marra testified that Bulger provided information that twice led to the arrest of Linskey’s friend Tom Nee.
In 1981, when Tom Nee was charged with murder and was on Boston’s Six Most Wanted list, Bulger told the FBI that he was hiding in New Hampshire, leading to his capture, according to the informant reports. Tom Nee was not convicted and remained free.
Two years later, Bulger told the FBI, according to the reports, that Tom Nee “when drinking, is extremely dangerous” and shot his own brother in a South Boston club. Bulger also told the FBI where to find a “hide” Nee built in the wall in the basement of the club.
Tom Nee, then 38, was shot to death in 1985.
Bulger also reported on the drug dealing of some of his South Boston associates, the informant files say. A 1983 report indicates that he told the FBI that Hobart Willis and his partner Freddy Ahern were involved in an ongoing deal to receive two tractor-trailer loads of marijuana weighing up to 40,000 pounds. The deal was to take place at the Howard Johnson’s on the Massachusetts Turnpike.
In February 1983, according to the informant files, Bulger reported that Charlestown bar owner Joseph Murray “is the biggest importer and distributor of marijuana on the East Coast and possibly the whole country.”
Two months later, the FBI and the Drug Enforcement Administration raided a South Boston warehouse and a garage and confiscated 15 tons of marijuana belonging to Murray’s crew.
Correction: Because of a reporting error, an earlier version of this story mischaracterized the relationship of Tom Nee and Patrick Nee. The two are not brothers.