Conviction Overturned for Ex-FBI Agent Linked to Whitey Bulger

WSJ.com: "A Florida appeals court on Wednesday tossed out the murder conviction of a former federal agent accused of participating in the killing of a Florida businessman who had run afoul of notorious Boston gangster James "Whitey" Bulger.

John Connolly, a former Federal Bureau of Investigation agent who was Mr. Bulger's handler for the agency, was charged in 2005 with joining a scheme to murder businessman John Callahan in 1982. Mr. Connolly was convicted and sentenced to 40 years in prison.

Mr. Connolly wasn't accused of pulling the trigger in the murder. He argued that his conviction on second-degree murder charges violated the statute of limitations. In a 2-1 decision, Florida's Third District Court of Appeal agreed, saying the trial court wrongly classified his conviction so the statute of limitations didn't apply.



"Without the fundamentally erroneous reclassification, Connolly's conviction for second-degree murder as a lesser included offense of first-degree murder was barred by the applicable statute of limitation," the court said in a 72-page opinion.

The opinion said Mr. Connolly, who has long maintained his innocence, couldn't be released from prison until any post-appeal motions in the case are final."

According to the Federal Bureau of Prisons database:
JOHN J CONNOLLY
Register Number: 22928-038
Age: 73
Race: White
Sex: Male
Released On: 06/28/2011

In 2008, Connolly was convicted of second-degree murder and later received a 40-year sentence in connection with the 1982 slaying of businessman John Callahan in Florida. Connolly was said to have set the stage by warning Bulger that Callahan was possibly talking to the Feds.

At the time of his sentencing, the judge said Connolly had stepped onto "the dark side."

Ex-Agent Brought Down Boston Mafia Figures

Connolly, for 23 years, had been a highly decorated FBI agent; during that period,  he helped bring down numerous Boston Mafioso and other criminals.

And just like Lindley Devecchio, who faced prosecution over alleged misconduct in his handling of Greg "The Grim Reaper" Scarpa, Connolly's network of friends and supporters have been working to have him exonerated.

Earlier this year, more than 100 retired FBI agents asked the U.S. Department of Justice to appoint an independent counsel to investigate his conviction.

According to JusticeForJohn.com, operated by Connolly's supporters, Connolly was "an informant handler for the FBI...  John retired from the FBI honorably in 1990, accepting the position of being the Director of Government Affairs for one of New England’s largest utilities.

"In December of 1999, John was indicted through the misguided efforts of certain federal prosecutors, working in tandem with a so-called investigation being conducted by a certain DEA Agent and a Massachusetts State Police Officer, both of whom admit to a personal agenda against the FBI in general.

"The charges included one that alleged that five years after his retirement from the FBI, John tipped off James “Whitey” Bulger, and Stephen “The Rifleman” Flemmi, that they were about to be indicted — despite the fact that it had already been widely publicized in the newspapers for several months earlier that a grand jury had been sitting on their case, and that indictments were expected soon.

"Additionally, the indictment of John came following extensive and highly publicized pretrial hearings in federal district court before U.S. District Court Judge Mark L. Wolf in the racketeering case of United States v. Frances P. Salemme, James J. Bulger, Stephen Flemmi, et al., U.S. District Court, District of Massachusetts, No. 94-10287 (the “Wolf Hearings”).

"The  issue raised by Flemmi in Judge Wolf's proceedings was that Bulger and he had been “authorized” to engage in bookmaking, etc. John... would not agree to lie about the fact that Flemmi and Bulger had been given “authorization” to commit low level non-violent crimes as Top Echelon FBI Informants.

"It was this appropriate and moral refusal... that became the catalyst which sealed John’s fate..."

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