FBI agent who fought mafia stands accused of aiding it

Friday, May 24, 2002

BOSTON -- John J. Connolly Jr. was once known as the FBI agent who snagged gangster James "Whitey" Bulger to help in the FBI's war against the mafia.

But somewhere along the way, Connolly allowed himself to be corrupted by his prized informant and began protecting the thugs he was supposed to be investigating, a prosecutor told jurors in closing arguments of Connolly's racketeering trial Thursday.

Prosecutor John Durham outlined the allegations against Connolly, which range from taking bribes to tipping Bulger's gang about informants who were later killed.

The jury was to begin deliberations in the case today.

Connolly, 61, never took the stand. He pleaded innocent to racketeering and obstruction of justice charges and previously denied taking bribes.

He also has said that everything he did was cleared by his superiors at the FBI, who used information provided by Bulger and Stephen "The Rifleman" Flemmi to take down the New England mafia.

His attorney, Tracy Miner, told jurors Thursday that Connolly was being targeted because the FBI needed a scapegoat after it was revealed during 1998 hearings that it had mishandled its top criminal informants, including Bulger.

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