A federal judge has ruled tentatively that relatives of two women and a man who were allegedly murdered in the 1980s by gangsters are entitled to almost $2 million in a wrongful death suit against the government.
The rulings are tentative, but an indication of what may be the outcome of the lawsuit brought by three families who allege that the FBI did nothing to stop the murders of Louis Litif, a bartender and bookmaker; Deborah Hussey, the daughter of a woman who was in a long-time relationship with convicted gangster Stephen "The Rifleman" Flemmi; and Debra Davis, Flemmi's one-time girlfriend.
US District Judge William G. Young said today during closing arguments in the non-jury trial that "I'm prepared to find there's a massive and widespread coverup going on here.'' The plaintiffs contended that the FBI created a dangerous condition by failing to control Flemmi and his partner, James "Whitey" Bulger, both of whom were FBI informants.
The informants reported to John J. Connolly Jr., a corrupt agent who was sentenced to 40 years in prison in January for leaking information to Bulger and Flemmi that led to the killing of a Boston businessman in Florida in 1982. Bulger, 79, is wanted for 19 killings and has been a fugitive since 1995. Flemmi is serving a life sentence for 10 murders.
Young tentatively awarded $350,000 for pain and suffering to each family, along with the costs of funeral expenses. He also gave Litif's relatives a combined $800,000 for "loss of consortium.''
Young did indicate during today's proceedings that he is not prepared to rule that the FBI could have foreseen and therefore prevented the Davis murder. "I'm not prepared to find it was reasonably foreseeable ... that Flemmi would murder Debra Davis. Factually, I don't see that the FBI could have reasonably foreseen her murder.'' Young added, "He had her killed because their relationship was coming to an end and he feared she would leave him for a younger person."
Young did say that a tip by Connolly led to Bulger's decision to murder Litif. "The result was a foreseeable risk created by the leak. ... The FBI could have foreseen that,'' Young said.
Flemmi, 75, had testified during the trial that Hussey was among two women he lured to homes in South Boston on separate occasions in the 1980s. He said he silently watched as Bulger strangled them. Young said today that it appears, from evidence and testimony, that "they killed her for no better reason than she was an annoyance to Flemmi."
Young said he will likely have a final decision in the case by the end of September.
On the beat
Columnist Shirley Leung says Boston mayor-elect Martin J. Walsh should focus on middle-class housing. Read more