THIS STORY HAS BEEN FORMATTED FOR EASY PRINTING
Mike Barnicle

A clear case of good cop, bad cop

By Mike Barnicle
Globe Columnist / May 3, 1998
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None of the false glamour of gangsters was in evidence on the 12th floor of the federal courthouse as the spectacle of testimony by an FBI agent who tarnished his shield finally finished at the end of last week.

The sad, pathetic conclusion to the career of John Morris -- immunity stuffed in the same pocket that accepted bribes from career criminals -- played itself out in front of the eyes of hoodlums who handled Morris the way pimps control property and in front of his former partner, John Connolly, embarrassed and angered by Morris's attempt to reach across 20 years to drag Connolly down with him.

``He has a very well thought-out story,'' Connolly was saying Friday. ``He's tried to cover every hole he dug for himself with lies. That's what he's become: a liar.''

Thursday, Connolly -- proud as well as parochial -- had to endure the discomfort of taking the Fifth Amendment in front of a federal judge. To a person whose life was spent in the law, this was like being asked to sit out the Super Bowl, to take a called third strike in the seventh game of the World Series, to put truth on hold because the government -- for the moment -- does not know where its case is headed.

The Justice Department has several gangsters in the dock, charged with extortion and other activities. The gangsters' defense is that the government cannot prosecute them for conspiracy because the gangsters were actually silent partners of the FBI, led by Morris and Connolly locally, and that if the men wearing shields knew what the deal was during the time all of them were sharing information, then the US attorney's office sure cannot feign ignorance of that coalition's charter today.

``When I went in the FBI everything was about communism,'' Connolly was saying, ``until they finally figured out that seven out of every 10 people at Communist Party meetings were undercover FBI agents. So they made the Mafia the new communism. That became the target: the mob.

``We first reached out to Whitey Bulger in the 1970s,'' Connolly added. ``He knew Angiulo and his guys wanted to take him out, either by killing him or framing him, so I told him, `Deal yourself into this game. Work with us.'

``He told me, `I will not be called an informant. This is going to be a joint venture. I will be your liaison. I don't want any money and I won't hurt any of my friends.' I said to myself, `OK, now we have a horse in this race too.'

``But it's kind of like the circus,'' Connolly, retired several years now, pointed out. ``You have the guy on stilts and you have the guy who is the clown, but if the circus is going to work you need to have a guy in there with the lions and tigers. That was me. I was no John Morris, back in the office with a Number 2 lead pencil. My job was to get in there with the lions and tigers. And I am no liar like Morris.

``We did what we had to do to complete our mission, which was the destruction of a New England crime family, an international crime cartel,'' Connolly said. ``And we were successful. We destroyed the Angiulos in exchange for a gang of two, Whitey Bulger and Stevie Flemmi. Who wouldn't make that deal?''

Now, years later, the complicity is unraveling in a federal court where John Morris is playing a part he perfected on duty with the FBI in Boston: incompetent weasel.

There was a day more than a decade ago when Morris had a bug planted in an East Boston package store to entrap cocaine dealers, a noble thought except everyone in Maverick Square knew of the effort.

Two FBI cars ended up crashing into one another after agents overheard what they thought was a drug deal in progress when, in fact, it was a couple guys using the bug to play a joke on the cops. Morris, mistakenly and corruptly, blamed Boston police, claiming they tipped people to the plant when it was John Morris's own lame attempt at crime-fighting that had raised the red flag. Sending this Morris to combat gangsters was like wearing mittens to a gunfight.

Now, a reputation gone, a professional career blotched with stains made by his own hand, John Morris attempts to smear John Connolly with the brush of his own dishonorable behavior. He took money because he had problems and a girlfriend while another FBI agent, John Connolly, took his job seriously enough to employ any measure necessary to remove Mafia gangsters from streets they never knew were the real property of the one man who is missing from the courtroom, a fugitive smart enough to employ the FBI in his own successful takeover scheme.

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