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Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Former top state cop: FBI informant protection ran deep



Retired Massachusetts State Police Col. Tom Foley

An explosive new book by the former head of the state police who spent 20 years chasing Winter Hill mob boss James “Whitey” Bulger details a decades-long FBI protection racket that he says went well beyond one rogue agent, and fingers a host of feds who allegedly abetted the Southie mob boss’ murderous crime spree.

“I know I’m going to take some flak on this thing, but it had to be told,” retired state police Col. Thomas J. Foley told the Track. “It happened. It’s totally backed up and that’s just the way it was.”

According to Foley, disgraced ex-FBI handler John Connolly, currently serving a 40-year sentence in Florida in connection with his corrupt relationship with Bulger and cohort Steve “The Rifleman” Flemmi, took the fall for systemwide coddling of the South Boston gangster, now charged with 19 murders and racketeering.

“Connolly deserved what he got, but he wasn’t the only one that should have got it,” Foley said.

According to Foley’s book, “Most Wanted: Pursuing Whitey Bulger, The Murderous Mob Chief The FBI Secretly Protected,” a raft of FBI agents and supervisors allegedly were complicit in a federal deal-with-the-devil that allowed Bulger to run wild. At the same time, the FBI “did everything in their power” to thwart a state police investigation that might bring the Southie crime boss to justice. Foley blasts a number of big names in the tome, including:

• Former U.S. Attorney Donald Stern, who, Foley said, “caused nothing but trouble” for the state police targeting Bulger and never responded to a 20-page plea from Foley laying out how he believed the FBI was compromising the staties’ investigation.

• Ed Quinn, head of the FBI’s Organized Crime Unit, who Foley contends covered up the bureau’s attempts to “kill off” the staties’ investigation into Bulger.

• Quinn’s predecessor Jim Ring, who Foley says was “heavily involved in the effort to protect Flemmi and Bulger from our inves- tigation.” Ring met with Whitey Bulger, Foley said, and his brother, then-Senate president Billy Bulger, Flemmi and Connolly at Flemmi’s mother’s house and reportedly rec-eived gifts, such as a “choice pipe” from the mobsters.

• Former Boston FBI Agent of the Year John Gamel, who Foley said watched the wrong house the night Whitey Bulger was supposed to be arrested. Gamel also investigated Bulger’s threat to kill a mortgage broker unless the broker paid the mobster $50,000, but “nothing came of it,” Foley said.

• Boston FBI head Barry Mawn, who Foley said called the staties’ efforts to find Bulger “FBI bashing,” and when the state police complained about things that had happened in the past, said they were “whining about ancient history.” Mawn later became FBI director.

• A crew of unnamed FBI agents who, at a 1991 law enforcement Christmas party, gave Foley a plaque declaring him “The Most Hated Man In Law Enforcement” because of his quest to collar Bulger.

A spokeswoman for the Boston FBI declined to comment on Foley’s laundry list of complaints about the agency.

“It is the FBI’s standard policy not to respond to allegations made by authors,” said FBI spokeswoman Katherine A. Gulotta. But Stern, who is now in private practice, said he has “great respect for all that Tom Foley and the other investigators accomplished in the Bulger case” and looks forward to reading the book.

“I inherited a history of tremendous friction between the State Police and the FBI on these cases,” Stern said.

“I spent countless time and energy to get things on track and to keep the focus on reaching the right result. Along the way, I had some differences with Tom and with the FBI about what to do, but those differences were always handled professionally and directly.

“Several times since then, he has thanked me for my support and I appreciated his comments. I am proud of all the U.S. Attorney’s Office accomplished with these cases.”

Foley, whose plan to get Bulger involved hitting low-level bookies who operated under the crime boss and to trade up the criminal ladder to the top, details how he was repeatedly foiled in his efforts after telling the FBI of his plans. Foley contends that wiretaps were discovered, criminals’ meeting places were abandoned, suspects were tipped off and a request for an indictment denied.

And although the FBI insists it has revamped its informant policies after the Bulger debacle, Foley contends nothing has changed. He pointed out that late last year, it was revealed that mafia capo Mark Rossetti was given FBI protection despite evidence that Rossetti was implicated in serious crimes from murder to drug trafficking.

U.S. Rep. Stephen Lynch of Southie and Sen. Chuck Grassley, the ranking member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, have demanded answers from the FBI about Rossetti.

“It’s just another indication that nothing has changed,” Foley said. “And this is going to keep happening again and again and again.”

Foley said he wrote the book because he “lived through it” and he wanted to honor the cops and prosecutors who did their job, especially Assistant U.S. Attorney Fred Wyshak, who worked tirelessly to help the State Police nail Bulger. Wyshak will prosecute the case against the former fug-itive when Bulger comes to trial in November.

“The job got done because good people stood up and worked the case and did their jobs,” he said.

“It got done in spite of everything,” he said.

Foley will give a talk and sign copies of his book, “Most Wanted,” written with John Sedgwick, at the Barnes & Noble in Worcester on Wednesday and in Marblehead and Chatham later this month. His tour wraps up Sept. 13 at the Boston Public Library.

http://www.bostonherald.com/track/inside_track/view.bg?articleid=1061129744&srvc=rss


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