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‘Maximum Mike’ Too Corrupt—Even for BATFE

By Pat Shannan

The Senate’s attempt to confirm BATFE appointee Michael Sullivan as its new director, already approved by the Judiciary Committee (AFP December 17, 2007), may hit new snags as more evidence of corrupt tactics surface.

Boston Magazine recently referred to Sullivan as “Maximum Mike, the man who covered up the evidence,” and reminded readers that Federal Judge William Young had hammered Sullivan’s office for evincing “. . . a moral code more suited to the alleys of Baghdad than the streets of Boston.”

Retired FBI Special Agent John Connolly, 67, currently spending his retirement years in solitary confinement and about to stand trial for murder in Miami, agrees.

Sullivan put him there with perjured evidence in 2004. Connolly’s defense team recovered a letter, dated May 6, 2002, and unreported until now, to Rep. Dan Burton Rind.), then chairman of the Committee on Government Reform, making a formal request to postpone the testimony of a former assistant U.S. attorney, Jeremiah O’Sullivan “to limit the adverse publicity.” Unaware of the real impact of this testimony, Burton complied. When O’Sullivan did testify half a year later, his testimony was enough to have convinced a jury to say “not guilty” to Connolly.

Connolly’s trial had already begun when the letter was written, and the elusive O’Sullivan was slated to be a defense witness at the trial but disappeared before being served. Sullivan’s office claimed he had “heart trouble,” and was too sick to appear. Connolly, retired for 12-years, was tried and convicted of obstruction of justice and racketeering but charged with even more serious counts that his jury rejected (AFP, May 27, 2002).

However, the stench from the false testimony in that trial is beginning to permeate the air around the federal courthouse in Boston and further taint the chances of U.S. Attorney Michael Sullivan heading the BATFE. The most serious charge leveled against Connolly was that he had tipped off mobster James “Whitey” Bulger of an impending indictment in 1994—an indictment on multiple felony charges that, following trial and probable conviction, would have put Bulger away for the rest of his life.

Instead, he fled and has been missing ever since. However, Connolly maintained throughout his federal trial that his longtime relationship with Bulger existed only on a professional basis. Bulger had been a secret top echelon informant (TEI) since the late 1970s, and Jeremiah O’Sullivan would have testified to that.

As the former head of the Organized Crime Task Force assigned only to the TEI cases, his testimony would have exonerated Connolly. Instead, Connolly was convicted by the testimony of two mobsters—thoroughly coached by Sullivan’s assistant prosecutors—who were doing time for murder.

Connolly became the fall guy and was sentenced to 10 years in federal prison for doing his assigned job 20 years earlier.

One of the witnesses against him was John Martorano, a mob hitman serving time for 20 murders at the time. However, Martorano found his ticket to freedom, thanks to Sullivan, with his testimony against Connolly and walks the streets today a free man—having served a mere seven months for each murder conviction.

The other mobster witness was Frankie Salemme, boss of the New England Mafia. Since his testimony at Connolly’s trial, he has been in prison awaiting trial on perjury. He had been released as part of the deal he cut with the government to testify against Connolly, but then was re-arrested for lying. Such is the corruption bringing into question the Boston federal prosecutions for which Sullivan has attained recent notoriety.

Connolly’s Miami murder rap stems from a 1982 mob hit that happened only weeks after he had returned to FBI duty following a year of study obtaining his masters degree at The Kennedy School of Government at Harvard.

“It was a vindictive prosecution,” say Connolly’s lawyers, “and it never would have come down had we not filed our motion for a new trial in John’s 2002 conviction that had been based on perjured testimony obtained from coaching of witnesses by Sullivan and his assistants—testimony from murderers.”

The day after Connolly’s team filed for a new trial for the 2002 conviction, Sullivan’s assistant, Fred Wyshak, flew to Florida to file the conspiracy to murder and first degree murder charges that Connolly must now face in June in state court.

In December 2002, six months after Connolly’s federal trial, the government used an FBI error-laden report at the congressional hearing. This was not known when it was used against Connolly at his trial. Jeremiah O’Sullivan finally testified before the Burton hearings that he knew in 1979 that Bulger and Flemmi were informants and murderers, and that he exercised his “prosecutorial discretion” not to indict them in a case at that time. He also admitted that the FBI report used by the prosecution at Connolly’s trial was “full of errors.”

This was the same former prosecutor who had hidden out in order to avoid testifying for the defense in the Connolly trial six months earlier.

Connolly was portrayed by prosecutors as a “rogue agent” who had given his murderous informants permission to commit crimes, without authority from higher up. O’Sullivan now admits that this was not true, and not only did he (O’Sullivan) know what was going on, but so did everybody else up the ladder at the FBI and Department of Justice in Washington. This is the evidence that would have completely exonerated Connolly.

Pat Shannan is the associate editor at American Free Press. He has been writing professionally for four decades. See more from Pat at

(Issue #8, February 25, 2008)

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