Prosecution rips into Bulger’s first defense witness

bulger james whitey bulger boston
A 1983 mugshot of James “Whitey” Bulger taken at the Boston office of the FBI.
Credit: U.S. Attorney’s office

The first witness called in the defense of alleged mob boss James “Whitey” Bulger was attacked by the prosecution who tried to create a question of credibility in the minds of the jurors. 

Bulger’s defense team had the chance to present its case to jurors on Monday and its first witness was Robert Fitzpatrick, a former assistant special agent in charge of the Boston FBI office.

During direct questioning by Bulger attorney Hank Brennan, Fitzpatrick testified about being tasked with straightening out “major problems” in the Boston FBI office when he was assigned there in 1981. He also said members of the U.S. Attorney’s office in Massachusetts failed to take seriously his warning when he felt that former mobster Brian Halloran’s life was in danger. Halloran, a Winter Hill Gang member, was trying to become an informant for the FBI when he was allegedly killed by Bulger.

But Fitzpatrick’s credibility was immediately called into question when Assistant U.S. Attorney Brian Kelly asked his first question on cross examination.

“You’re a man who likes to make up stories,” Kelly said.

“No,” Fitzpatrick said.

Kelly then, in a sarcastic and sometimes mocking tone, began citing Fitzpatrick’s book “Betrayal,” in which he said he arrested mafia underboss Jerry Angiulo. He also questioned Fitzpatrick’s recounting of being the person to find the rifle that killed Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

“I was the first agent on scene,” said Fitzpatrick, who served as an FBI agent in Mississippi and New Orleans before coming to Boston.

Later, Kelly questioned why Fitzpatrick included a picture of himself in a trench coat standing at the site in Dorchester where Bulger’s gang buried multiple bodies. Kelly asked if it was to imply that he was there when the bodies were dug up when he actually wasn’t.

“I don’t recall that was the reason for the picture,” Fitzpatrick said.

Fitzpatrick’s testimony will continue Tuesday.

Follow Michael Naughton on Twitter @metrobosmike


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