FBI brass had met in D.C. to talk about Bulger
July 15, 2013
Top FBI supervisors held a meeting at the bureau’s headquarters in Washington, D.C., in May 1982 to decide what to do after the killing of a cooperating witness who had implicated James “Whitey” Bulger and his partner in an Oklahoma murder, according to testimony in Bulger’s racketeering trial in federal court Monday.
Retired FBI agent Gerald J. Montanari told jurors that FBI agents from Boston, Miami, and Oklahoma met with supervisors to discuss “concerns that two high-level informants were suspects” in the Oklahoma murder of businessman Roger Wheeler. Moreover, retired FBI agent H. Paul Rico, who had still been working undercover for the bureau in a high-profile investigation, was also involved, the cooperating witness told authorities.
The meeting came two weeks after Bulger allegedly gunned down the witness, Edward “Brian” Halloran and Michael Donahue, after learning that Halloran had been giving the FBI information about the Oklahoma murder. Donahue was an innocent bystander who was giving Halloran a ride home.
Montanari testified Monday that he wanted the meeting “to bring the supervisors in Washington up to date” with his concerns that Bulger, a top informant in Boston, had just killed Halloran.
But even after Montanari raised his concerns, the FBI continued to use the gangster and his partner, Stephen “The Rifleman” Flemmi as top-
echelon informants, according to Montanari’s testimony Monday.
“It was recommended that informants remain open in the Boston Division until substantiated information is received indicating that they should be closed,” Robert Fitzpatrick, an assistant special agent in charge in Boston, wrote to his supervisor after the meeting on May 25, 1982.
The Washington meeting was attended by top supervisors including Sean McWeeney, who was in charge of the bureau’s organized crime section. After the meeting, FBI supervisors ordered Boston agents to share Halloran’s account of Wheeler’s killing with Oklahoma investigators, who had been asking for assistance.