Whitey was on a tear, and Special Agent Connolly covered for him at every opportunity. When Oklahoma
investigators working the Wheeler case asked for photos of Bulger and Flemmi to show to potential witnesses,
Connolly refused, saying that his TEs had declared their innocence and that was good enough for him. These
investigators pressed for Bulger and Flemmi to take polygraph tests, and again Connolly shielded his
informants. He finally relinquished photos only after his superiors threatened to drop Bulger and Flemmi from
the Top Echelon Informant Program if he didn't comply. But thanks to Connolly, Bulger and Flemmi escaped
indictment for any of their murders. Connolly and his supervisor John Morris convinced their superiors that
Bulger and Flemmi were indispensable in their quest to topple the Mafia in Boston. And so the Whitey Bulger
Connolly in particular treated Bulger like a star, and over time the stardust started to rub off on Connolly
himself. Now wearing flashy double-breasted suits and styling his hair in a John Gotti-like blow-dry, he looked
more like a wiseguy than a Southie guy, and fellow agents jokingly referred to him as "John Cannoli."
In the early 1980s Connolly and Morris skewed their reports on Bulger to enhance his value as an informant.
Morris later admitted under oath that he and Connolly also gave Bulger and Flemmi advance warning whenever they
learned that other agencies were investigating the two gangsters. Morris and Connolly were in deep with the bad
guys, and Morris had even accepted bribes from Bulger, "mad money" for Morris's burgeoning affair with his
secretary that came in envelopes delivered by Connolly.
But as informants, Bulger and Flemmi were far less valuable than their handlers made them out to be. It was
true that Bulger and Flemmi knew Jerry Angiulo and his four brothers, had had meetings with them, and had even
been to Angiulo's headquarters at 98 Prince Street in Boston's North End. But the information they provided was
nothing the FBI didn't already know. Bulger and Flemmi had been asked to find out if 98 Prince Street had an
alarm system, but they never found out for sure. Flemmi made a rough sketch of Angiulo's office for the feds,
but they already had the layout of the building. Flemmi knew a bit more about Angiulo's headquarters than
Bulger did because he'd been courted by the Mafia for years, but what he knew didn't amount to much.
The real source of usable information was an anonymous disgruntled bookie who worked for the Angiulo
organization. This nondescript bookie, according to the Boston Globe, "hated Angiulo for his greed and
crude ways, his lack of loyalty to the real money men - the bookmakers." A frequent visitor to 98 Prince
Street, this bookie not only provided information about the building itself, he revealed the ins and outs of
the Mafia's gambling operations.
With the help of this information, six FBI agents broke into 98 Prince Street in January 1981 and planted
two listening devices in the walls, connecting them to batteries concealed above the ceiling. The feds listened
in on the Mafia's business for four months, getting details on loan-sharking and gambling operations that
earned "$45,000 a day in gross receipts." The FBI built a case that eventually resulted in 23 convictions,
including Jerry Angiulo and two of his brothers.
But when the FBI reports on the case were written, Bulger's and Flemmi's guardian angels made sure that
their favorite informants were given a starring role in the investigation. Connolly and Morris acknowledged
that Bulger and Flemmi were far from upstanding citizens, but they argued that when compared to the Mafia,
Whitey and Stevie were minor threats and should be kept on as informants. With Angiulo's empire in ruins,
Whitey Bulger soon became the undisputed top dog of Boston's organized-crime scene. His rackets grew, and with
his FBI protectors running interference for him, the city was his to exploit.
Bulger formed alliances with Mafia members who had escaped the Angiulo convictions, and the state police
observed several made men paying regular visits to Bulger at the Lancaster Street garage, showing him the kind
of respect reserved for a don. The man who succeeded Angiulo as boss, "Cadillac Frank" Salemme, was willing to
work hand-in-hand with Bulger.
In a bugged conversation that took place in April 1981, Mafia underboss Ilario Zannino warned a
deadbeat gambler that he'd better pay an $80,000 debt to Bulger and Flemmi because "they're with us." According
to the Boston Globe, Zannino then turned to his legbreaker, who was standing nearby, and asked, "Are
they with us? Are they with us?"
"A thousand percent," the legbreaker answered.