BOSTON – A man who was allegedly killed by James “Whitey” Bulger predicted he would be killed if Bulger learned he’d been cooperating with authorities, a former FBI agent testified Monday.
Retired agent Gerald Montanari told jurors in Bulger’s racketeering case that Edward “Brian” Halloran became an FBI informant in 1982 and agreed to testify against Bulger and members of his gang in the 1981 slaying of Tulsa, Okla., businessman Roger Wheeler, as well as other killings.
Halloran was facing a state murder charge and hoped his cooperation would help him in that case — and secure protection for himself and his family.
Halloran told the former agent Bulger or his partner, Stephen “The Rifleman” Flemmi, would probably kill him if they found out he was cooperating, Montanari said.
“He said that if Bulger or Flemmi had any indication that he was cooperating with the FBI that they would go to any extreme, even if it meant killing innocent bystanders, including his family,” Montanari said.
Bulger is charged with opening fire on a car Halloran was in a few months after he turned informant. Halloran and Michael Donahue, an acquaintance who had offered him a ride home, were killed.
Bulger, 83, has pleaded not guilty to participating in 19 killings during the 1970s and ’80s while he allegedly led the Winter Hill Gang. He has also denied prosecutors’ assertions that he was a longtime FBI informant who ratted on the rival New England Mafia and other criminals.
Montanari said Halloran was a “mid-level strong-arm type” who acted as an enforcer for the gang. He said Halloran reached out to the FBI at the end of 1981 about Wheeler’s death.
The FBI made arrangements for Halloran and his family to live in a rented house on Cape Cod to protect him, Montanari said. He said the FBI believed if Halloran abided by the guidelines given to him, including that he not go to Boston, “we felt this would be sufficient security for him.”
Montanari said he and another agent met with Halloran dozens of times over a period of two to three months, and he told them about various crimes he said were committed by Bulger, Flemmi, hit man John Martorano and others. Halloran had agreed to wear a recording device to capture conversations he had with a Bulger associate who played a role in the Wheeler killing, Montanari said.
Prosecutors say Bugler learned of Halloran’s cooperation through former FBI agent John Connolly, who was Bulger’s handler while he was an FBI informant. Halloran was gunned down in May 1982, near a restaurant in South Boston.
Montanari said the FBI told Halloran before his death that they were closing him as an informant because he would not take a lie detector test and was waffling on whether to go into the witness protection program.
In other testimony Monday, Martorano’s former girlfriend, Patricia Carlson, described living with Martorano while he was on the run after he was indicted in the late 1970s.
Carlson, who was then Patricia Lytle, said she began dating Martorano when she was 15 and he was 35. She said one day he asked her if she wanted to go to Florida for a vacation. “We ended up staying there 20 years,” she said.
They had a son together, James Stephen, now 27. Martorano testified earlier that his son was named after Bulger and Flemmi.
Carlson described a series of cash payments she received from Bulger’s gang, including a $10,000 payment that was left at her mother’s house in July 1996 after Martorano was arrested.
She also testified that she told numerous lies when she appeared before a federal grand jury in 1995.
“I was worried that I was going to cause more problems for Johnny. I was concerned with what was going to happen with my 8-year-old boy, and Johnny told me to lie,” she said.
Carlson said she only recently admitted she lied after she spoke to her attorney and he told her that the statute of limitations for perjury had expired.
Under cross-examination by Bulger attorney Hank Brennan, Carlson said that up until last month, the government had not contacted her since her 1995 grand jury testimony to provide information about Martorano’s illegal activities.
In other testimony, Dr. Richard Evans, the retired chief medical examiner for Massachusetts, reviewed reports in all 19 killings and listed the cause of death for each one. He said most of the victims had multiple gunshot wounds.