Prosecutor: Whitey Bulger curses old FBI nemesis in federal trial
James “Whitey” Bulger glared at a disgraced former FBI official who was testifying against him and told him, “You’re a [expletive] liar,” a federal prosecutor said today at the notorious gangster’s trial.
Assistant US Attorney Brian T. Kelly said Bulger shouldn’t be allowed to intimidate John Morris as he once threatened 15-year-old boys in South Boston. Speaking after jurors had left the courtroom, he asked US District Judge Denise J. Casper to admonish Bulger.
It was unclear if any of the jurors had heard Bulger. Neither the judge nor the media in the courtroom did.
Casper advised Bulger to rely on his lawyers’ advice. “Do you understand?” she asked.
“Yes,” he said.
The outburst came after Morris had testified that Bulger was the informant who warned the FBI that loanshark victim Peter Pallotta was having second thoughts about going into the Witness Protection Program and had sent a letter to the Winter Hill gang offering to stop cooperating with authorities if they gave him money to flee.
But Bulger has long had an animus against Morris. He grew to hate him after realizing it was Morris who told The Boston Globe in 1988 that Bulger was an informant. And after Bulger went on the lam, he telephoned Morris and threatened him. Morris then suffered a heart attack.
Morris testified this morning about having Bulger over for dinner at his home in upscale suburban Lexington.
Morris, now a wine consultant, was nicknamed “Vino” by Bulger and his gang when they knew him because of his taste for wine.
Morris said Bulger’s handler, corrupt FBI agent John J. Connolly Jr., whom he supervised and considered his best friend, recommended the meeting place, telling Morris he wanted Bulger to feel comfortable.
“He wanted it to be pleasant surroundings, not the surroundings you would ordinarily meet an informant,” such as a hotel, or in a car, Morris said.
He also said he later met Bulger and Bulger’s cohort Stephen “The Rifleman” Flemmi, and he found it extraordinary that the two informants would be meeting together.
“I’ve never seen it before or since,” he said.
Morris, now 67, retired from the FBI in 1995. He later admitted to taking gifts from Bulger and Flemmi, including $7,000 and bottles of wine, and has agreed to cooperate in exchange for immunity from prosecution.
He told jurors today that he had been assigned to FBI units across the country and returned to Boston in the 1970s, where he met Connolly. He said he knew Bulger as a leader in the Winter Hill gang, and later as Connolly’s informant.
He said Connolly’s “forte was informants.”
Morris said he became familiar with the Winter Hill gang and the Mafia as part of his work on the case of Pallotta, a Revere club owner.
Also this morning, jurors heard from Paul McGonagle, the son of alleged Bulger victim Paul “Paulie” McGonagle.
The son, now 53, told jurors that he was 14 when his father went missing in November 1974.
“My dad had always told me to try and take care of my mom and brother if anything should happen,” he said. His brother was 10 at the time.
A year later, Bulger approached him with aviator sunglasses and told him his gang “took care of the guys who got my father,” McGonagle said.
The elder McGonagle, who was 36 when he went missing, was a reputed leader of the South Boston Mullens Gang and a Bulger rival. His remains were unearthed in September 2000 from a grave at the edge of Tenean Beach in Dorchester.
Prosecutors say that Bulger committed his crimes under a cloak of protection from the FBI as a prized informant who worked for agents with whom he had become too cozy. Defense attorneys insist Bulger was not an informant.
Federal prosecutors are in the midst of presenting a massive case against Bulger. The trial began June 12.