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Bulger defense disputes informant status

Federal agent testifies in the case

A Justice Department agent testified Tuesday that James “Whitey” Bulger never signed any documents acknowledging he was an FBI informant, as the defense attempted to challenge the authenticity of a hefty file detailing the gangster’s cooperation against friends and rivals.

“Can you confirm firsthand whether [Bulger] gave any of that information?” defense lawyer Henry Brennan asked the agent, who has spent several days presenting reports from Bulger’s file at Bulger’s racketeering trial in US District Court in Boston.

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“No,” said James Marra, an agent with the inspector general’s office who reviewed the file while investigating allegations that former FBI agent John J. Connolly Jr. leaked information to Bulger that resulted in the slayings of several FBI informants and a potential witness.

The file contains hundreds of reports indicating that Bulger fed the FBI information about Mafia rivals, Charlestown drug dealers, South Boston friends, and members of his own gang from 1975 to 1990, Marra said.

The bulk of the reports were authored by Connolly, who is now serving a 40-year prison term for murder, while the remainder came from supervisors and a former head of the FBI’s Boston office who personally met with the gangster.

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Marra conceded that Bulger never confirmed his informant status in writing and was not photographed or fingerprinted when recruited by Connolly. But, he added, “I don’t recall that being a requirement.”

Bulger, 83, who was captured in Santa Monica, Calif., two years ago after 16 years on the run, is charged in a sweeping racketeering indictment with participating in 19 murders; extorting drug dealers, bookmakers, and businessmen; laundering money; and stockpiling guns.

Bulger insists he was never an informant. During opening statements earlier this month, his lawyer contended that Connolly fabricated the reports to cover up the fact that he was regularly taking payoffs from Bulger and leaking him information.

Marra testified that Connolly filed “misleading or false” reports on occasion to protect Bulger and his partner, Stephen Flemmi, an informant. He also cited reports in which Bulger blamed others for slayings he is accused of participating in, including those of Francis “Buddy” Leonard and Thomas King, two friends killed in 1975.

King’s widow, Margaret King, a nurse, testified Tuesday that police showed up at her door in November 1975 and told her that Leonard had been found slain in her husband’s car. They searched her home looking for her husband, who had vanished.

King said she confronted Bulger at his South Boston hangout, Triple O’s, because she knew he worked with her husband and wanted to know what happened to him. She said Bulger told her that her husband was “probably in Canada, robbing banks; that’s what he originally wanted to do.”

King said another Bulger associate, Patrick Nee, told her he did not know where her husband was, but noted they weren’t “the perfect couple.”

Hitman-turned-government witness John Martorano testified earlier that Bulger killed Leonard and left him in King’s car to make it look as if he did it. Martorano said he shot King at Bulger’s urging, then Bulger’s crew buried him along the banks of the Neponset River in Quincy. King’s remains were recovered in 2000.

Leonard’s brother, Joseph, testified Tuesday that he got a call from police in the middle of the night in November 1975 and had to identify his brother’s body at the morgue.

Sandra Castucci, widow of alleged Bulger victim Richard Castucci, also took the stand, briefly recounting how her husband left to meet Bulger’s associate Howie Winter in 1976 and was found hours later shot to death in his car.

She said Flemmi later showed up at her home and tried to take over her husband’s stake in The Squire, a popular Revere strip club.

But instead, she said, she was summoned to a meeting in Rhode Island with New England Mafia boss Raymond L.S. Patriarca, who told her that he was taking her husband’s interest in the club because he owed him money.

While Bulger’s defense team tried to discredit the gangster’s informant file, prosecutors attempted to show that it contained detailed information about underworld figures that could only have come from someone like Bulger.

One report indicated that in the early 1980s, Bulger told the FBI the possible whereabouts of fellow Winter Hill Gang members Joe McDonald and Jimmy Sims, both fugitives. He also warned the FBI, according to the reports, that McDonald had two automatic weapons and “homemade” silencers that he was bringing to a cousin in New York who supported the Irish Republican Army.

The reports show that Bulger informed on Joseph Murray of Charlestown and his crew, leading to the seizure of 15 tons of marijuana during a raid of a South Boston warehouse and a garage in 1983.

After the raid, according to a report, Bulger told the FBI that Murray’s crew had hired two former State Police detectives to investigate who had informed the FBI.

Shelley Murphy can be reached at shmurphy@globe.com. Milton Valencia can be reached at mvalencia@globe.com.
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