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THE BULGER TRIAL
Wed July 24, 2013
Bulger Defense Chips Away At Flemmi's Credibility
James "Whitey" Bulger's lawyer, Hank Brennan, stretched his assault on the credibility of star prosecution witness Stephen "The Rifleman" Flemmi into a fourth day, covering somewhat less morbid territory than in previous days, and focusing on what Brennan argued where Flemmi's incentives to lie on the stand, including avoiding the death penalty and improving his prison conditions.
Brennan had Flemmi admitting to perjuring himself in his trial in the 1990s before Judge Mark Wolf.
"I lied because I wanted to go forward in my immunity agreement," Flemmi said.
Flemmi also said he thought FBI agent John Connolly and others would testify on his behalf, but never did.
"I didn't want to call FBI corrupt, that I had a corrupt relationship with the FBI, because then I wouldn't have much of a defense,' Flemmi said.
Eventually, after Winter Hill Gang member John Martorano began cooperating, Flemmi said he eventually decided to to the same.
"When he decided to cooperate, the chances of me winning wasn't to great," Flemmi said.
Brennan kept up the rhetorical pressure on Flemmi, trying to establish that Flemmi, not Bulger, was the FBI informant. Brennan noted it was Flemmi who drew maps of mob-frequented restaurants, and who met with FBI agent John Morris at Lechmere Station to listen to sound from mafia wiretaps.
"Is it fair to say you want to use Mr. Bulger as buffer, so you don't have to admit what you did?" Brennan asked.
Brennan successfully got Flemmi to say it was former prosecutor Jeremiah O'Sullvan who had his and Bulger's names removed from a horse race-fixing indictment which led to their partner, Howie Winter, serving 10 years in prison. Prior to the start of the trial, the defense had wanted to argue O'Sullivan had given Flemmi and Bulger immunity for their crimes, but the argument was not allowed.
Flemmi has grown steadily more combative with Brennan over the course of the four-day cross-examination. At one point, Flemmi seemed to refuse to answer a question unless he could review "hundreds of thousands of documents."
"There was an awful lot of discovery in this case, what documents are you talking about?" Flemmi shot back.
Flemmi also maintained the air of confusion he's displayed throughout his testimony. For example, Brennan asked him if FBI agent Jim Ring ever called him at his mother's house.
'No," Flemmi replied. "Oh excuse me, yes, I'm thinking of [Winter Hill Gang member] George Kaufman."
This is expected to be Flemmi's final day on the stand, with Bulger associate Kevin O'Neill expected to testify next.
Read more about Flemmi's cross-examination here.