Saturday, October 10, 2015

Slow Saturday Special: Egregious FBI Set-Up in Everett

Look, if the FBI didn't make up crimes there would be no need for them and they would all be fired.

"FBI arrests Everett man in murder-for-hire plot" by Evan Allen, Emily Sweeney and Laura Crimaldi Globe Staff  October 09, 2015

WORCESTER — Joseph Burke knew exactly how it would all go down, prosecutors say.

The convicted felon would disguise himself as a black man and lie in wait for his target, armed with a Glock handgun he had test-fired to ensure its silence, according to prosecutors. When the target appeared, Burke would aim for center of mass.

“When he goes down, he’s gonna grab his chest,” Burke allegedly told the man he believed was paying him to murder an associate, in an early October meeting. “And I’m gonna walk up, I’m gonna stick it in his mouth, I’m gonna say, ‘Listen, this is for Mike.’ Boop! And the back of his head will be all over the [expletive] place.”

But on Friday, a week before the hit was supposed to go down, federal agents arrested Burke in Boston. The man Burke had thought was hiring him as a contract killer was in fact an FBI agent as was the associate he allegedly planned to shoot — and his plan was all captured on tape.


Burke, 51, of Everett, was charged in federal court with traveling across state lines and using “facilities of interstate commerce” in the commission of a murder-for-hire plot, according to US Attorney Carmen M. Ortiz’s office and an affidavit filed by FBI Special Agent Benjamin A. Alvis.

Burke appeared before US Magistrate Judge David Hennessy in Worcester Friday afternoon. He talked quietly with his attorney, his hands clasped in front of his face.

The prosecutor said Burke was on federal parole at the time of the offense. He faces up to 10 years in prison, three years of supervised release, and a $250,000 fine. He was held, and is due back in court Oct. 21.

They had a known patsy on their hands.

Burke, originally from Charlestown, has a lengthy criminal record as a bank robber.

He worked at one on Wall Street?

He has been ensnared by undercover agents in the past: He was sentenced to 10 years in prison after taking an undercover agent into a federal prison to set up a cocaine deal in 1993, according to court documents and Globe reports from the time.

Oh, no! There is an old saying up here in New England: 

"Fool me once, shame on you, fool me twice, shame on ME!" 

No, we won't get fooled again.

In 2012, a 75-year-old Charlestown man died in New York carrying $180,000 in cash that was seized by the federal government as drug money. Burke claimed the money was his and sued, but recovered only about $36,000, records show.

In the current case, federal agents were surveilling Burke at least as early as March, according to Alvis’s affidavit. On March 17, Burke allegedly told an undercover agent that he needed money and might have to commit an armored car robbery. He also allegedly asked the agent to identify wealthy people as potential targets for future robberies.

“You might know some rich people who want to get out of a marriage,” Burke allegedly told the agent, while making a shooting motion with his hand. “That I’ll do all day long. For a price, all day long. Not a problem.”

In September, the agent told Burke that his associate, who was actually another undercover agent, was creating problems for him with the Internal Revenue Service, and Burke allegedly said he had “no qualms” killing the man, the affidavit said.

“I’m gonna [expletive] shoot him in the head,” Burke allegedly said. “[Expletive] gonna hit him right in the [expletive] derby. Three in the derby and three in his chest. Don’t worry, he ain’t getting up.”

Maybe he was just talking big to get the money before bailing on the killing, ever think of that?

The two allegedly agreed that the agent would borrow money from the target to pay for the hit.

Nice touch.

“That’s how wiseguys do,” Burke allegedly told the agent. “When the wise guys get clipped . . . you ain't gotta pay it back; he’s gone.”

They later met in Manhattan so that the agent could show Burke the target’s office. Burke had his girlfriend, Lisa Pino, with him, the affidavit said, and he told the agent that Pino would bring guns he planned to buy back to Boston.

Pino is not charged.

On Sept. 25, Burke allegedly told the agent to mail two “black masks” to him, which he planned to use as disguise. In early October, Burke and the agent allegedly decided on the date for the hit: Oct. 17, when the target would be in New York celebrating his mother’s birthday.

Officials on Friday searched the homes of Burke and Pino, as well as Burke’s car, officials and neighbors said. Neighbors said they were shocked by the allegations.

“Murder for hire? Joe wouldn’t do anything like that,” said Michelle Cipriano, who lives in Somerville near Pino. “If he did it I’m shocked. He’s so quiet and nice.”

I'm believing the neighbors more than I am the FBI!


This guy didn't learn his lesson?

"Bulger’s companion could face longer prison term; Greig could see longer term in prison" by Shelley Murphy Globe Staff  September 22, 2015

Federal prosecutors have for months unsuccessfully pressured James “Whitey” Bulger’s girlfriend, Catherine Greig, to testify before a grand jury investigating whether other people helped the notorious South Boston gangster during his 16 years as a fugitive.

On Tuesday, the government upped the stakes for Greig, 64, by obtaining a new indictment charging her with criminal contempt, which could keep her in prison for many more years if she is convicted.

This government is so goddamn petty and vituperative.

The new charge comes after Greig refused to testify before the grand jury, despite being found in civil contempt last December and warned that for every day she stayed quiet, another day would be tagged onto the eight-year sentence she is already serving for helping Bulger evade capture.

“Catherine Greig has yet again failed to do the right thing,” Joseph R. Bonavolonta, the acting head of the FBI’s Boston office, said in a statement Tuesday. “Her refusal to testify has hindered the FBI’s efforts to seek justice for the victims of [Bulger’s] crimes.”

Then she is doing the right thing. Standing by her man.

Greig’s attorney accused the government of vindictiveness and harassment for bringing the new charge.

We can all see it.

He and Greig’s sister said it’s wrong for the government to try to punish Greig more severely than some of Bulger’s underworld associates who were involved in brutal murders, but were granted leniency in exchange for cooperating with authorities.

“She knows nothing,” Greig’s twin sister, Margaret McCusker of South Boston, said during a brief telephone interview Tuesday. “There is no reason for her to talk to anybody because she doesn’t know anything.”

McCusker questioned the fairness of bringing a new charge against her sister, referring to plea deals that allowed one Bulger associate to walk free after serving only 12 years for 20 murders, and another to serve only five years in prison for being an accessory to five murders.

“My sister may eventually be spending as much time in prison for being with someone she loved as his associates who killed and/or buried people,” McCusker said. “That’s nuts.”

It's a good screenplay, though.

However, the widow of one of Bulger’s victims said she was happy the government was increasing pressure on Greig in an effort to track Bulger’s hidden assets and determine whether others helped the gangster elude a worldwide manhunt while he was a longtime fixture on the FBI’s 10 Most Wanted list.

The FBI knew where he was (a half mile down the road from the office). They turned on him when it was publicly advantageous.

“I would like her to tell all,” said Patricia Donahue, whose husband, Michael, was shot to death by Bulger in 1982 while giving a ride home to a friend being targeted by Bulger. “Tell exactly what went on when they were on the run. Where is his money?”

SeeBulger memorabilia for sale by alleged victim’s kin

Attorney Kevin Reddington, who represents Greig, said her only crime was living with Bulger while he was a fugitive. He said she has repeatedly been brought back from a federal prison in Minnesota to appear before the grand jury in Boston even though she has said she has no information and will not testify.

“She has great respect for the court, but she does have contempt for the federal government for using its power to vindictive ends,” Reddington said. “She will not be a tool of the government’s efforts to further harass people, whether family or friends.”

US Attorney Carmen Ortiz said in a statement Tuesday the new indictment seeks to hold Greig accountable for refusing to comply with a judge’s order to testify.

“The grand jury is entitled to her testimony and flouting a federal court’s order has substantial consequences,” Ortiz said.

No date has been set for Greig’s arraignment on the new charge in federal court in Boston.

Bulger, a longtime FBI informant who paid bribes to agents who leaked him information, was tipped to flee by a corrupt former FBI agent just before his 1995 indictment.

He wasn't allowed to mention that at trial.

Greig, a former dental hygienist who grew up in South Boston and began dating Bulger in the mid-1970s, joined him on the run in early 1995 after he dropped another longtime girlfriend off at home....


So who else are they going after?

"Prosecutors want to preserve key witness testimony in case against retired FBI agent" by Milton J. Valencia Globe Staff  September 10, 2015

One of the witnesses, is 88, and lives in Tennessee. Another, a former high ranking official in the FBI, is 85, and lives in Arizona. A third, Lawrence Sarhatt, the former head of the FBI in Boston, is 83 and lives in Michigan.

All of them, according to prosecutors, are key to the case against Robert Fitzpatrick, the retired FBI agent who was charged earlier this year with lying under oath during the James “Whitey” Bulger trial in 2013.

But all of them, according to prosecutors, are so old and so ill — throwbacks to the time Fitzpatrick, in his mid-70s, was in the FBI and Bulger was committing crimes — that investigators want to take the rare step of preserving their testimony in depositions, in case their conditions worsen or they die before Fitzpatrick’s trial....

Fitzpatrick, who was second in command of the FBI’s Boston office in the 1980s, is accused of lying under oath during Bulger’s trial, in which he sought to paint a picture of corruption in the FBI’s Boston office in the 1980s that he was tasked with remedying. Prosecutors say he was trying to inflate his role, that he lied about his dealings with Bulger, and they say he overstated his accomplishments to enhance his credibility.

For instance, prosecutors say he lied when he testified that he found the rifle used to kill the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. the day he was assassinated in 1968, and when he said he had arrested then-New England Mafia underboss Gennaro “Jerry” Angiulo in 1983.

Fitzpatrick, who coauthored a book, “Betrayal, Whitey Bulger and the FBI Agent Who Fought to Bring Him Down,” faces 12 charges, some of which carry punishments of up to 12 years in prison. He is free on $50,000 unsecured bond.

He didn't testify to what they wanted.



Bulger wasn’t innately evil. That’s what makes him so evil

Will we ever be free of ‘Whitey’ Bulger?

‘Black Mass’ film skips corrupt FBI agent’s utility job

"Probation officer charged with lying to the FBI" by Travis Andersen Globe Staff  September 26, 2015

A veteran state probation officer was charged Friday with lying to the FBI during a corruption investigation, US Attorney Carmen M. Ortiz’s office said.

Lawrence Plumer, 46, of Brockton, was charged in US District Court in Boston with one count of making a false statement to the FBI, Ortiz’s office said in a statement. A hearing date was not scheduled for Plumer, who has been a probation officer since 2000, prosecutors said.

While the statement indicated that Plumer has agreed to resign his position as part of a plea deal, a spokeswoman for Ortiz said Friday night that prosecutors had not filed an agreement with the court.

Plumer could not be reached for comment, and it was not clear Friday who represents him. He earned $76,621 last year, according to state payroll records.

The statement from Ortiz’s office said Plumer allegedly lied to FBI agents “in connection with a public corruption investigation,” but officials did not disclose further details Friday. Representatives for Ortiz and the FBI declined to discuss the investigation, and charging documents were not available.

If convicted, Plumer faces a maximum penalty of five years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000, according to prosecutors.

A spokeswoman for the Probation Department, which has been dogged by corruption allegations in recent years, said Friday night that she had no information about the case.

The charges against Plumer have surfaced 14 months after former probation commissioner John J. O’Brien was convicted in federal court of racketeering for running a sham hiring process at the agency in exchange for political favors. Two of his former top aides, Elizabeth Tavares and William Burke III, were also convicted of related charges.

All three are appealing.


RelatedCourt tosses out essay part of test after most probation officers fail

And I'm off.

UPDATE: Group shows support for Bulger girlfriend outside federal court

Also see:

Catherine Greig to plead guilty to federal contempt charge

Catherine Greig set to plead guilty to contempt Feb. 3