Stephen “The Rifleman” Flemmi’s fourth day of testimony was highlighted by the messy business of calling out Bulger as a pedophile after defense attorney Hank Brennan brought up The Rifleman’s relationship with his own step-daughter and eventual murder victim Deborah Hussey. The defense continued in its attempt to knock the wind out of Flemmi’s already questionable credibility on the stand. Wednesday’s theme was Flemmi and Bulger’s history as FBI informants and its Flemmi versus Brennan at cross-examination.
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Flemmi has said that he and Bulger were FBI informants for 15 years as they ruled over Boston’s crime world—something that several witnesses close to and in the Winter Hill Gang have said. Flemmi also showed diagrams he made for the FBI that showed his and Bulger’s surveillance of where their rival in the city—the Mafia—usually gathered. Contrast to Flemmi and other former members’ assertions Bulger says he was never an informant for the FBI and its something that tends to illicit a response from the former crime boss.
The Rifleman also mentioned that he didn’t care to be recognized as an informant during his life sentence behind bars. One thing that bothered him was being labeled a rat. On that note Flemmi said “I don’t think anybody like it. I don’t think Mr. Bulger likes it either.” As expected, it got a gesture from Bulger.
The defense’s strategy has been take out as many prosecution witnesses’ credibility—a strategy for any defense attorney in any case. Brennan got Flemmi to admit that he had lied in court before. Flemmi asserted that he had to or else it would’ve shined light on the working relationship with the FBI and harmed his own defense. He then said that he was now telling the truth about everything.
The thing for the defense is that this is just a large, almost impossible mountain for them to pull Bulger over. There are so many witnesses ranging from crime figures, upstanding citizens, murderers, thieves, liars, extremely important, and extremely insignificant. They will be on the stand anywhere from a few hours to a few days. The defense have to cut through the witnesses as well as get the 83 year old James “Whitey” Bulger cleared on 19 murder charges and dozens of racketeering charges. It’s certainly not impossible for Bulger to get off scot-free, but it would be equal to putting a matador against a train.
James Bulger fled his Winter Hill Gang’s territory in 1994 after getting information from corrupt FBI agent and childhood acquaintance John Connolly that the FBI were getting ready to make its move with RICO Act charges. After fleeing, Bulger was sighted in the U.S and Europe at different times and made the Most Wanted List. He was taken off that list in 2011 after being apprehended in California with girlfriend Catherine Greig.