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Posted: 11/21/2003 4:48:55 AM EDT
www.kansas.com/mld/kansas/7312314.htm?template=contentModules/printstory.jsp

Ahhh, the FBI. America's heroes.



FBI Handling of Mob Informants Condemned

LOLITA C. BALDOR
Associated Press

WASHINGTON - While probing organized crime in New England since the 1960s, the FBI used killers as informants, shielded them from prosecution and knowingly sent innocent people to jail, House investigators said Thursday in concluding a two-year inquiry.

The bureau's conduct "must be considered one of the greatest failures in the history of federal law enforcement," according to the final report from the House Government Reform Committee.

"Federal law enforcement personnel tolerated and probably encouraged false testimony in a state death penalty case just to protect their criminal informants," said Rep. Dan Burton, who started the investigation when he was committee chairman.

"False testimony sent four innocent men to jail. They were made scapegoats in order to shield criminals," said Burton, R-Ind.

The FBI came under criticism for trying to stonewall investigators. Lawmakers complained that the bureau delayed giving them access to audio recordings and logs of conversations involving New England crime boss Raymond Patriarca that provided vital information on the 1965 murder of Edward "Teddy" Deegan.

"The Justice Department made it very difficult for this committee to conduct timely and effective oversight," the report said. "The FBI must improve management of its informant programs to ensure that agents are not corrupted. The committee will examine the current FBI's management, security, and discipline to prevent similar events in the future."

Lawmakers are pressing for more House hearings on the FBI's failure to cooperate.

"This is an unfinished project and I think the report acknowledges that," said one committee member, Rep. John Tierney, D-Mass.

"I would like to continue to investigate why the Justice Department was so recalcitrant in getting us the information. We should not tolerate that kind of behavior," he said.

The FBI said in a statement that it has taken "significant steps" to improve the use of informants, who are vital to many investigations.

A senior FBI official, speaking on condition of anonymity, acknowledged that the bureau was not always as forthcoming as committee members wanted. The official said some information was withheld or delayed because it related to a court case involving FBI Agent John Connolly Jr., who was convicted last year of protecting his gangster informants.

The report concluded there is not enough evidence to find that former Massachusetts Senate President William Bulger used his political authority to punish those who investigated his brother, mob boss James "Whitey" Bulger.

Whitey Bulger, a former FBI informant who worked with Connolly, fled in 1995 and is on the FBI's "Ten Most Wanted" list. He is being sought in connection with 21 murders.

The report said there were some inconsistencies in William Bulger's testimony. His lawyer, Thomas Kiley, said the report exonerates his client, who was given immunity to testify.

"For any thinking person, this should end it," said Kiley. "But there is a cadre of Bulger bashers here who have spread these street legends for years and I don't harbor any illusion they're going to stop."

The report, while broadly condemning the FBI's practices, focuses on the Deegan murder and law enforcement efforts to protect informants, including Jimmy "The Bear" Flemmi and Stephen "The Rifleman" Flemmi.

Four men were wrongly convicted of Deegan's murder - two died in prison and two served more than 30 years in prison - all due to what officials concluded was false testimony and the FBI's efforts to protect informants.

Jimmy Flemmi died in prison while serving time for a different murder. Stephen Flemmi recently pleaded guilty to racketeering charges involving 10 murders. Former FBI agent H. Paul Rico, 78, was arrested near Miami last month on murder charges. He has denied he helped frame innocent men for the Deegan murder.

ON THE NET

House Government Reform Committee report: http://reform.house.gov/GovReform/News/DocumentSingle.aspx?DocumentID1885





Link Posted: 11/21/2003 5:04:13 AM EDT
Outrageous! Every agent involved should be arrested and prosecuted. Their bosses should be fired!
Link Posted: 11/21/2003 5:16:00 AM EDT
"In The Spirit of Crazy Horse" by Peter Matthiessen documents how the FBI fabricated & manipulated evidence, intimidated witnesses, and coached perjured testimony to send Leonard Peltier to prison. Of note is a statement on the cover that it took a legal battle to get the book printed because the US government was trying to block it from being published.
Link Posted: 11/21/2003 6:07:44 AM EDT
FWIW, Even though the Hoover years were not so snow pure due to Hoovers shenanigans, the Bureau as an institution had a lot more basic integrity. Hoover saw to that. (Maybe as a CYA gesture. If the Bureau looks good, they'll leave Hoover alone. type thinking)

I'd say(and maybe I'm wrong) but the FBI crime labs probably wound up EXHONORATING about as many people as they convicted because they were fairly honest.
Link Posted: 11/21/2003 6:15:09 AM EDT

Originally Posted By piccolo:
I'd say(and maybe I'm wrong) but the FBI crime labs probably wound up EXHONORATING about as many people as they convicted because they were fairly honest.



Google "whitehurst + fbi + laboratory"
Link Posted: 11/21/2003 6:45:07 AM EDT

Originally Posted By FLAL1A:

Originally Posted By piccolo:
I'd say(and maybe I'm wrong) but the FBI crime labs probably wound up EXHONORATING about as many people as they convicted because they were fairly honest.



Google "whitehurst + fbi + laboratory"




I did. Hoover had been out of the pic long before most of this crap took place.

FWIW, it's just a surmise on my part.
Link Posted: 11/21/2003 7:30:53 AM EDT

Originally Posted By piccolo:

Originally Posted By FLAL1A:
Google "whitehurst + fbi + laboratory"


I did. Hoover had been out of the pic long before most of this crap took place.

FWIW, it's just a surmise on my part.



Sorry. I didn't catch the fact that you were commenting on the lab under Hoover's regime. You may very well be right.

An amazing thing about the lab is that as recently as 15 yrs ago they did a huge amount of forensic analysis on evidence from purely local cases. AFAIK, the Chief Constable of East Pitchfork can still pack up the evidence from his chicken-theft case and send it off to the FBI for analysis. Kinda neat.
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