Ex-FBI agent details ‘paranoia’ in Boston office at Bulger trial

bulger james whitey bulger boston
Whitey Bulger with a pair of poodles.
Credit: Carney & Bassil

A retired FBI agent told the jury in the James “Whitey” Bugler trial that there was an “aura” of leaks in the Boston FBI office and that cases he was working on were compromised because of the disseminated information. 

Matthew Cronin was the second witness called by Bulger’s defense team Thursday. He worked in the Boston FBI office starting in 1979 and retired in 1999.

Prior to being assigned to Boston, Cronin said he worked in the New York City office. There, the agents cared more about their own work than that of the other agents’. That wasn’t the case in Boston, he said.

“Everyone seemed to be interested in everybody else’s business. You learned pretty quickly to keep your cards close to your vest,” Cronin said.

Cronin said that after one investigation was compromised by a “tremendous leak,” he went to one supervisor and then to the head of the organized crime strike force — prosecutor Jeremiah O’Sullivan. That meeting started with Cronin feeling pleasant, but then he left angry, he said.

“O’Sullivan ordered us out of the office,” Cronin said.

Cronin wasn’t the first witness to testify about the distrust and concern among agents in Boston’s FBI office.

Earlier this week other agents said that there was “paranoia” in the Boston office.

Fred Davis, a supervisor, said on Wednesday that agents in his squad were nervous other agents were leaking information.

The 83-year-old Bulger was arrested in Santa Monica, Calif., in 2011 after 16 years on the run. Bulger fled after corrupt FBI agent John Connolly tipped him off just before his indictment for various crimes including racketeering, extortion and 19 murders.

Also Tuesday, state police Lt. Steve Johnson testified about his interviews with fellow Winter Hill Gang members John Martorano and Stephen Flemmi. The defense team highlighted differences between Johnson’s reports and the mobsters’ testimony during this trial. However, during cross examination, prosecutors made that point that the differences in the statements by Martorano and Flemmi were not concerning Bulger allegedly shooting some of his victims.

The defense will continue to call witnesses Friday.

Follow Michael Naughton on Twitter @metrobosmike.


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