National News

June 28, 2013

Ex-FBI agent faces tough questions in Bulger trial

BOSTON — Former FBI Agent John Morris appeared sheepish when he admitted under questioning from a prosecutor that he accepted $7,000 in cash and two cases of wine from James “Whitey” Bulger at a time when authorities say Bulger was both a feared gangster and a prized FBI informant.

His embarrassment is likely to deepen when he is cross-examined by Bulger’s lawyer.

Morris began testifying Thursday in Bulger’s racketeering trial. Bulger attorney Hank Brennan began his cross-examination late in the day, so Morris was certain to face more questions Friday.

Bulger, 83, is charged with playing a role in 19 killings during the 1970s and ‘80s while allegedly leading the Winter Hill Gang.

Bulger stared intently at Morris as he testified. At one point, he called Morris “a (expletive) liar under his breath, according to prosecutor Brian Kelly, who complained to Judge Denise Casper and asked her to admonish Bulger. The judge instructed Bulger to let his lawyers speak for him.

Morris said he helped protect Bulger and his partner, Stephen “The Rifleman” Flemmi, from prosecution at the request of former FBI Agent John Connolly, their handler at the agency. Morris, who was Connolly’s supervisor, said he recommended excluding them from a 1978 race-fixing indictment because of their value as informants on the Italian Mafia. Morris said he spoke with the prosecutor on the case, and neither Bulger nor Flemmi were indicted.

Bulger vehemently denies being an informant. Through his lawyers, he has insisted that he paid FBI agents to tip him off about investigations and indictments, but not provide the agency with information about other criminals.

Bulger’s lawyers contend that Connolly fabricated many of the reports in Bulger’s 700-page informant file to cover up his own wrongdoing. Connolly was later convicted of racketeering and second-degree murder for leaking information to Bulger and his gang members to protect them.

Morris recalled asking Connolly — who he described as his “best friend” — what Bulger and Flemmi wanted from the FBI.

“He said, ‘a head start,”’ Morris testified.

He said Bulger and Flemmi wanted to be tipped off if they were about to be arrested so they could get away.

Connolly was convicted of doing just that: tipping off Bulger to an indictment, prompting him to flee Boston in 1994. Bulger was one of the nation’s most wanted fugitives until he was finally captured in Santa Monica, Calif., in 2011.

 

1
Text Only
National News
  • 10 Things to Know for Thursday

    Your daily look at late-breaking news, upcoming events and the stories that will be talked about Thursday.

    April 23, 2014

  • US weighs clemency for inmates jailed for 10 years

    The Justice Department is encouraging nonviolent federal inmates who have behaved in prison, have no significant criminal history and have already served more than 10 years behind bars to apply for clemency, officials announced Wednesday.

    April 23, 2014

  • High court tosses $3.4M award to child porn victim

    The Supreme Court on Wednesday rejected a plea to make it easier for victims of child pornography to collect money from people who view their images online, throwing out a nearly $3.4 million judgment in favor of a woman whose childhood rape has been widely seen on the Internet. Two dissenting justices said Congress should change the law to benefit victims.

    April 23, 2014

  • Airport security vulnerabilities not uncommon

    For all the tens of billions of dollars that the nation has spent on screening passengers and their bags, few airports made a comparable investment to secure the airplanes themselves.

    April 23, 2014

  • Deal signs bill expanding gun rights in Georgia

    Gov. Nathan Deal has signed legislation expanding where people with licenses to carry can bring their guns in Georgia.

    April 23, 2014

  • Indian film awards arrive in Tampa, Fla., but why?

    The so-called Bollywood Oscars have been held in Macau, Singapore, London — and now, Tampa?

    April 23, 2014

  • Indictment: Prosecutor targeted in kidnapping plot

    A North Carolina prosecutor was the intended target of an elaborate kidnapping plot, but the kidnappers looked up the wrong address on the Internet and abducted the prosecutor’s father instead, according to an indictment released Tuesday.

    April 23, 2014

  • Republican activists push party on gay marriage

    As bans against gay marriage crumble and public opinion on the issue shifts rapidly, some Republicans are pushing the party to drop its opposition to same-sex unions, part of a broader campaign to get the GOP to appeal to younger voters by de-emphasizing social issues.

    April 23, 2014

  • Missouri executes inmate for 1993 farm slaying

    Missouri executed an inmate early Wednesday only a few miles from the farm where prosecutors say he orchestrated the 1993 killing of a couple whose cows he wanted to steal.

    April 23, 2014

  • 10 Things to Know for Wednesday

    Your daily look at late-breaking news, upcoming events and the stories that will be talked about Wednesday.

    April 22, 2014

AP Video