Ex-Mass. state police chief rips FBI over Bulger
WORCESTER, Mass.—To retired state police Col. Thomas J. Foley, the book he co-authored with John Sedgwick, "Most Wanted," is as much about the search for reputed mobster James "Whitey" Bulger as it is about the failures of the federal agencies involved.
Foley, 57, who served as superintendent of the state police and retired in 2004, spent 20 years building a case against Bulger, but got pushback from the FBI, an organization Foley discovered was protecting its informant.
"I couldn't believe how the good guys were bad guys," Foley said in a recent interview.
The book, scheduled to be released May 8, delves into the investigation of Bulger, his underlings and the structure of the Mafia and the Irish mob in the Boston area. The book's full title is: "Most Wanted: Pursuing Whitey Bulger, the Murderous Mob Chief the FBI Secretly Protected."
A book tour has been scheduled, with events in Worcester from 7 to 9 p.m. May 9 at the Barnes & Noble at 541 D Lincoln St. and in Westborough from 1 to 3 p.m. June 9 at Tatnuck Bookseller Gift Gallery and Café at 24 Lyman St. Both events include talks, readings and signings of the $25 book.
Writing the book brought back emotions generated in the decades of working in the state police's organized crime unit amid the frustrations with the government's handling of the case, Foley said.
"It is one side of the story that has never been told," the Worcester resident said. "This is the real story of how the investigation was conducted. It should expose the need for change, and that change has never come."
Even though a new policy on handling FBI informants was crafted a dozen years ago, Foley says it is still not followed.
It was a tip about an impending indictment from former star Boston bureau FBI Agent John J. Connolly Jr. that started Bulger's 16 years on the run from law enforcement.
Connolly has since been sentenced to 40 years in prison for second-degree murder in Miami. The information he provided his informants allowed them to kill a man he feared could put them all in prison. Connolly also received a 10-year federal sentence for racketeering.
The 2002 federal racketeering conviction stems from his tipping off henchman Kevin Weeks about the indictments in December 1994. Bulger would join the FBI's Ten Most Wanted List, hitting the top spot briefly after Osama bin Laden was killed.
Bulger was picked up in June 2011 with his longtime girlfriend, Catherine Greig, in Santa Monica, Calif. Last month, she pleaded guilty to federal charges for helping Bulger elude capture.
Bulger is facing a litany of charges, including murder, racketeering and drug trafficking. His case in federal court in Massachusetts continues.
"We knew all along he would be with her," Foley said.
He wasn't surprised the couple was picked up in Santa Monica, a location he called the Clearwater, Fla., of the West Coast. Bulger had a condominium in Clearwater, Foley said.
In the book, Foley mentions the possibility that Bulger was in Cuba, but law enforcement officials weren't able to go there.
"We never could get down there," Foley said. "He had all the money in the world. It was one of the areas we thought could have been a real good spot for him."
Work by Foley and his investigators helped put notorious mobsters Stephen "The Rifleman" Flemmi, Frank "Cadillac" Salemme, Weeks and others in prison. His work also helped lead to the downfall of Connolly.
"It was more than chasing Bulger. The system needed to be changed," Foley said. "A lot of that hasn't happened. We exposed the glaring issues with how this whole thing was handled."
Foley expressed frustration with the Justice Department and how it handled the families of Bulger's alleged victims. Many families have filed lawsuits and Foley accuses the government of undermining the civil actions.
Some people aren't going to like what they read in the book, the former state police investigator admits.
Investigators from the Central Massachusetts area worked hard on the case, and many receive the recognition they deserve in the book, Foley said. Woven into the book are stories of long nights of surveillance and tracking Bulger and his associates and of Bulger's status as an informant for the FBI.
Foley said Bulger's arrest should give the victims' families some satisfaction. The book brings the reader to the day he received a phone call from Col. Marian J. McGovern, superintendent of the state police, informing him of the capture.
"I thought it was going to come a lot sooner," Foley said. "The evidence is mounds and mounds and piles against him. The guy is never going to see the light of day as it is."