John J. Connolly, Jr. (born August 1, 1940) is a former FBI agent, who was convicted of racketeering and obstruction of justice convictions stemming from his relationship with James J. "Whitey" Bulger, Steve Flemmi, and the Winter Hill Gang. Connolly was released from federal prison June 28, 2011, and was transferred to Massachusetts state prison to serve the remainder of his sentence for his 2008 second degree murder conviction.
State police and other federal officers had been trying to imprison Whitey Bulger for years, but Bulger evaded capture until 2011. As the FBI handler for Bulger and Flemmi, Connolly (who had grown up in the Old Harbor Housing Project with Bulger) had been protecting them from prosecution by feeding Bulger information about possible attempts to catch them.
Connolly was indicted on December 22, 1999 on charges of alerting Bulger and Flemmi to investigations, falsifying FBI reports to cover their crimes, and accepting bribes. In 2000, he was charged with additional racketeering related offenses. He was convicted on the racketeering charges in 2002 and sentenced to 10 years in federal prison.
This scandal was the basis for the book Black Mass and is alluded to in the 2006 crime thriller film, The Departed, written by William Monahan and directed by Martin Scorsese.
John Joseph Connolly Jr. was the namesake and son of an Irish immigrant John Connolly Sr. known as "Galway John" by friends and neighbours. His father was a Gillette employee for 50 years; his mother Bridget T. Kelly was a housewife. They lived in the Old Harbor housing project on O'Callahan Way until John Jr. was twelve. In 1952 his family moved to the City Point neighborhood of South Boston, Massachusetts. John Jr. was able to attend Columbus High School, a Catholic high school in the Italian North End, Boston neighborhood. John Sr. earned the moniker "Galway John" because he was a second-generation Irish-American from Galway, Ireland in South Boston, Massachusetts. He has a sister, Mary Ann, and one younger brother named James, who would later follow John's footsteps and seek a career in law enforcement, joining the DEA New England Division based in Boston.
As a boy, Connolly would later tell reporters his first memory of James J. Bulger, using his illicit earnings to buy ice cream cones for all the boys that swarmed around him in adoration. He would later answer to the nickname Elvis because of his thick black hair and also to 'Neighbor,' because of his early years of growing up in the projects. He was a neighbor of the Bulger family, Joseph Moakley and Francis 'Buddy' Leonard who would later be murdered by Bulger in 1975 during his battle for power over the rackets.
Connolly graduated from Boston College and attended law class and then briefly, unhappily, attended Suffolk University Law School for a Bachelor of Law in the same class as John Martorano's brother James Martorano. He later withdrew from Suffolk University and went on to earn a graduate degree in Public Administration from Harvard University's John F. Kennedy School of Government. Before he became an FBI agent Connolly worked as a teacher at South Boston High School and Dorchester High School In 1968 he met with H. Paul Rico's FBI partner Special Agent Dennis Condon, and Boston Police Department Detective Edward Walsh, an old friend of the Connolly family. Both Condon and Walsh would later brag that they had 'recruited' Connolly. Then he stopped by his old neighbor and state representative Billy Bulger to discuss career opportunities in law enforcement. On August 1, 1968 U.S. House Speaker John William McCormack wrote a personal note to J. Edgar Hoover on behalf of a constituent. The letter began, "Dear Edgar, It has come to my attention that the son of a lifelong personal friend has applied to become a special agent of the Federal Bureau of Investigation..." He was appointed to the FBI in October 1968. FBI Supervisor John M. Morris, who would also face charges of corruption, was Connolly's supervisor during much of his time working for the FBI.
As an agent he was also one of the primary agents involved in developing the Top Echelon Criminal Informants Program in New England. He began his FBI career in Baltimore field office and then San Francisco field office before he was transferred back to New York City where he helped break up a child pornography ring. But he wanted to return to Boston to be closer to his ailing father. In 1980 he moved into the neighbourhood of Dorchester Heights across the street from South Boston High School, at 48 Thomas Park. During his career in the FBI, Connolly investigated organized crime and over the span of his career received eight commendations from every Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation from J. Edgar Hoover through L. Patrick Gray, William Ruckelshaus, Clarence M. Kelley, James B. Adams, William H. Webster, John Otto and William S. Sessions. In 1973 he was the first agent assigned to the FBI office in Boston and maintained an office at One Centre Plaza in Government Center, Boston. He is the brother-in-law of Arthur Gianelli who was later indicted with Joe (Joey Y) Yerardi who oversaw John Martorano's criminal operations when he was a federal fugitive in Florida between 1978 and 1995. In 1989 the DEA was probing the Winter Hill Gang for suspected drug trafficking.
The DEA was well aware that John's brother James, and a former room mate of his both worked for the DEA. An FBI supervisor later noted in a memo, the head of the DEA's Boston office, "quietly changed the duties of both these DEA special agents so they would not become aware of this matter." Boston FBI Special Agent Robert Fitzpatrick said, "Connolly just became a force unto himself, a vortex in a constantly changing system. He stayed put as new agents in charge came and went. And he could take care of other agents. He became the guy who could get you sports tickets. He could help you get a day off through the secretaries. He made no secret that he could help you get a job after retirement through Billy Bulger. But he wasn't that much of an agent. He couldn't write a report. He was no administrator. He was just this brassy bullshit artist. We enabled him to some extent. No one had the stomach for examining what he was up to. We just never came to grip with that guy."
In 1990 after he retired from the FBI, Billy Bulger lobbied with Boston Mayor Ray Flynn to have Connolly appointed Commissioner of the Boston Police Department. Flynn instead appointed Francis Roache. Before he was brought up on criminal charges, John was mentioned in the crime fiction book The Underboss: The Rise & Fall of a Mafia Family in 1989 by Gerard O'Neil and Dick Lehr that follow the FBI's crusade against Gennaro Angiulo with Connolly, John Morris and a team of fellow FBI agents.
Connolly married his first wife Marianne Lockary, his childhood sweetheart after he neared graduation from Suffolk University Law School. He then married Mary Ann Foley but they divorced after Mary Ann cited an "irretrievable breakdown" after a four year separation, filing for divorce in January 1982. Mary Ann was a registered nurse and neither protested the separation that became official a few months later. He married again to 23-year-old Elizabeth L. Moore a court stenographer who worked at the John Joseph Moakley United States Courthouse.
John had no children with his first wife and would later father three sons to his third wife Elizabeth. When John and Elizabeth first married he bought a $80,000 condominium for them in Brewster, Massachusetts and took regular vacations to Cape Cod. His sister-in-law Mary Ann Moore, is married to Arthur Gianelli. Gianelli and Connolly purchased adjoining property in Lynnfield, Massachusetts from Patriarca mob family extortionist Rocco Botta.
At the time of Connolly's incarceration she stayed by his side and remained married to him. His wife Elizabeth is the webmaster for the website www.justiceforjohn.com who states in the website mission that it, "represents the collective voices of the many friends and supporters of retired FBI Special Agent John J. Connolly Jr. ... It is our hope that you will review these documents, and join with us in our quest for justice for John, beginning with a new trial".
Meeting Flemmi and Bulger
He first met FBI informants Steven Flemmi and James J. Bulger at a coffee shop in Newton, Massachusetts. He occasionally lectured FBI agents at the FBI Academy in Quantico, Virginia on informant development tactics and techniques and was a member of the Boston FBI's Organized Crime Squad. Retired FBI Special Agent Joseph D. Pistone wrote in his book, The Ceremony, "The reign of the Patriarca crime family is ended. A substantial amount of the credit for the demise of that mob family must be given to one man, Special Agent John Conolly." Louis Litif, one of the top bookmakers and Winter Hill Gang mob associate was one of Connolly's handball partners at the Boston Athletic Club. He retired from the FBI honorably in 1990 and accepted the position of Director of Security/Public affairs for Boston Edison, from former Boston FBI Special Agent John Kehoe.
File:Stephen Flemmi.jpg|Steven Flemmi File:James Whitey Bulger captured.jpg|Whitey Bulger
Murder trial, conviction and sentencing
In 2005, Connolly was indicted on murder and conspiracy to commit murder charges in the 1982 slaying of Arthur Andersen certified public accountant John B. Callahan and the 1981 murder of Roger Wheeler, owner of the World Jai Alai sporting corporation. Connolly stood trial in 2008 in Miami. Callahan was murdered by John Martorano who shot Callahan and left his body in the trunk of his Cadillac in a parking lot at Miami International Airport. Prosecutors alleged that Callahan was killed on the orders of Whitey Bulger and Stephen Flemmi after Connolly told them that the FBI was investigating his ties to the Winter Hill Gang in their ongoing investigation into Wheeler's death. Wheeler had been killed by Martorano in Tulsa, Oklahoma in May 1981.
During the trial, Bulger associates Stephen Flemmi, Kevin Weeks and John Martorano testified for the prosecution detailing Connolly's ties to Bulger and Flemmi. Long time Bulger girlfriend Teresa Stanley testified for the defense about her travels with Bulger. Flemmi testified that Connolly warned them that the FBI wanted to question Callahan in the death of Wheeler, telling them that Callahan "wouldn't hold up" and would probably implicate them.
Also testifying against Connolly was his former FBI boss, John Morris, who admitted that he accepted $7,000 in bribes from Bulger and Flemmi. He stated he began leaking information to them after Connolly delivered a case of wine and an envelope stuffed with $1000 cash from the pair.
Testifying for Connolly was former U.S. Attorney and current U.S. District Senior Judge Edward F. Harrington who testified that Connolly was a star agent who was credited with using informants to help destroy the New England Mafia.
On November 6, 2008, a jury convicted Connolly of second-degree murder. According to the prosecutors, Connolly faced a possible sentence of 30 years to life in prison. Connolly was due to be sentenced on December 4, 2008 but sentencing was postponed until January while the judge in the case, Circuit Judge Stanford Blake, considered a motion by the defense to dismiss the case. The defense argued that in Florida, the statute of limitations had expired for second-degree murder when Connolly was convicted.
On January 15, 2009, Blake sentenced Connolly to 40 years in prison, saying that Connolly "crossed over to the dark side." The judge agreed with the defense's argument involving the statute of limitations, but noted that their motion was past the deadline for such motions. He accepted prosecutors' argument that Connolly abused his badge and deserved more than the 30-year minimum. The 40-year state sentence will run consecutively with the 10-year federal sentence, all but assuring that Connolly will die in prison.
He was in FCI Butner Low facility at the Federal Correctional Complex, Butner in North Carolina. He was released from federal custody on June 28, 2011, and was transferred to a Massachusetts prison to serve his 40-year state sentence.
Connolly insists he had nothing to do with the Callahan murder. With Bulger's capture on June 24, 2011; Connolly's attorney said his client would appeal if Bulger corroborates Connolly's claim of innocence.