'Whitey' Bulger Defense Begins Without Him

Robert Fitzpatrick was the Assistant Special Agent for Boston in the 1980s.

BOSTON July 29, 2013 — -- The murder trial of James "Whitey" Bulger has offered daily drama and bombshell revelations, but today spectators lined up before dawn in the hope that Bulger himself would take the stand.

Instead, Bulger's attorneys began his defense with former FBI agent Robert Fitzpatrick who told the court that the agency was corrupt and that his career was ruined because he tried to end the FBI's ties to Bulger.

The credibility of the former agent was promptly attacked by the federal prosecutor who asked Fitzpatrick whether he told tall tales, like claiming to have found the rifled used to kill Martin Luther King Jr.

Fitzpatrick was the assistant special agent in charge of the Boston office in the 1980s, which coincided with Bulger's rising power with the help of dirty FBI agents who were working under Fitzpatrick.

Bulger and his partner Stephen "The Rifleman" Flemmi were both FBI informants, according court records and the testimony of Flemmi and former agents. Bulger, now 83 and on trial for 19 murders, adamantly denies he was a snitch.

Fitzpatrick testified today that he tried to end the bureau's links to Bulger and Flemmi.

"I believed it was wrong. It was destroying morale in the office. Secondly, it was setting guys against each other, FBI guys,'" Fitzpatrick told the court. And, Fitzpatrick added, innocent people were getting killed.

While Bulger was give the agents information about other mobsters, the FBI agents were also feeding Bulger information, warning him of informers, who were then killed, according to testimony.

"When you pushed to close Mr. Bulger and change the way things were being done in Boston, did headquarters treat you differently?" asked Bulger defense attorney Hank Brennan.

"I was told to shut up,'' Fitzpatrick testified. "I was retaliated against. It didn't happen all at once, but it was a series of things."

Fitzpatrick told the court about stolen case files, sinking morale, and FBI infighting in the Boston field office during his time there. He described calling then Assistant FBI Director John Glover to report his concerns. Glover told him to "shut up," Fitzpatrick told the court.

"I felt betrayed. The FBI was betrayed. The Department of Justice was betrayed. There was a lot of betrayal going on,'' Fitzpatrick told the court.

His career was stalled, Fitzpatrick testified. He asked FBI officials why and he was told: "If I dropped the case, everything would go away.''

Fitzpatrick told the court that he refused and was then demoted and finally stripped of his pension.

When Bulger's defense attorneys finished with its first witness, federal prosecutors attempted to paint Fitzpatrick as a blowhard and a liar.

"Do you like to tell stories, Mr. Fitzpatrick?" asked Assistant United States Attorney Brian Kelly.

Kelly then attacked Fitzpatrick's book "Betrayal" in which he describes arresting Italian Mafia boss Gennaro Anguillo, who was busted while eating with his family at Francesca's restaurant in Boston's North End in 1983.

As the mobster was led out of the eatery, he famously shouted: "I'll be back before my pork chops get cold!" It was a renowned organized crime arrest, and one that Fitzpatrick took credit for in his book, prompting Kelly to call him "a bold-faced liar."

"I went to the table and put the cuffs on Anguilo,'' Fitzpatrick insisted in a heated exchange with Kelly.

Kelly presented him with a FBI report on Anguilo's arrest on which his name was not mentioned. "The arrest was made by me,'' Fitzpatrick told the court.

Kelly continued to rip into Fitzpatrick's credibility, telling the court he had been demoted from assistant special agent in charge to line agent and that his performance reviews were abominable.

"Did you get a letter from the director of the FBI himself about your deplorable conduct?" Kelly asked.

"Yes,'' Fitzpatrick told the court.

"Mr. Fitzpatrick, isn't it fair to say that you made up FBI reports about interviews that didn't happen?'' Kelly asked.

"No,'' he answered.

"That's what caused you to leave the FBI?'' Kelly continued.

'The reason I left the FBI is because it was corrupt at that level,'' Fitzpatrick stated. He resigned from the FBI in 1986.

Kelly then questioned Fitzpatrick about his claim that he found the rifle that was used to kill Martin Luther King.

"I was the first FBI agent at the scene. I found the rifle,'' Fitzpatrick told the court.

Kelly retorted that the FBI's website did not mention Fitzpatrick in its report on the Martin Luther King assassination and told the witness he was little more than "a courier" who transported the murder weapon which was found by police officers.

On Tuesday, the defense is expected to call Pat Nee, who has been named by government witnesses for his involvement in Bulger's Winter Hill Gang murders. But Nee is expected to plead the fifth.

Confessed hitman John Martorano, who talked freely about murders he carried out allegedly at the behest of Bulger, will also be called back to the stand to talk about the murder of Debbie Davis, who is one of 19 people Bulger is accused of murdering.

If Bulger does not take the stand, jurors could get the case as early as the end of the week.

But in a late motion this morning Bulger defense attorney J.W. Carney asked the court to sequester the jury for the weekend, a request she denied. But the request led to speculation that Bulger would be taking the stand.

Carney has refused to confirm or deny whether his client would testify.