The Final Installment
This week former FBI agent Robert Fitzpatrick goes before a federal judge to be sentenced for the crimes of perjury and obstruction of justice, stemming from his testimony at the trial of gangster James “Whitey” Bulger. He’s facing a sentence that could, at his age, put him away for life. He has pleaded guilty to crimes, I believe, that he didn’t commit. The expense of defending himself in federal court, and his declining health, led him to throw himself on the mercy of the court. If you’ve read the first two installments of this series, you know the details of the case. In this final installment, I’m posting a letter that I’ve written to the judge in hopes that Fitzpatrick will not be sentenced to time in prison for what has been, clearly, a vendetta on the part of the U.S Attorney’s Office in the District of Massachusetts.
Honorable F. Dennis Saylor IV United States District Court Judge One Courthouse Way Boston, MA 02210
Dear Judge Saylor:
I have known Bob Fitzpatrick now for almost a decade. It was the Whitey Bulger scandal that brought us together, me as a journalist/author and Bob as a potential source of information, someone who was there in the Boston FBI office during some of the years that Bulger was on the street committing horrific crimes.
As you know, the Bulger story has been an incredibly complicated, multi-layered saga that involved not only the brutal crimes of a degenerate gangster, but also the official corruption within the criminal justice system that allowed the man to flourish as a criminal for so long.
Very few people who served in the criminal justice system during ‘the Bulger Years’ and were in the orbit of the Bulger story come out of it looking good. During those years, many looked the other way or stuck their head in the sand while Bulger was being protected by SA John Connolly, SA John Morris and many others all the way up to OC Strike Force Chief Jeremiah O’Sullivan.
While attempting to write about this, to make sense of what happened, there were very few people willing to talk openly or frankly about what took place. Bob Fitzpatrick was the exception. He was as shocked and disgusted as anyone about what had happened in Boston and, I think, felt great remorse that any of this had taken place on his watch. He was conflicted and maybe even haunted by those years and had a strong desire to set the record straight, as he knew it. I never heard Bob use the word ‘whistleblower’ or anything like that in the many years we discussed the case. If anything, he felt guilty for not having done more to stop it while he was in Boston, and he now felt a moral obligation to help tell the true story to the extent that he could.
I’ve gotten to know Bob well over the last seven or eight years. We’ve had many late night discussions about the Bulger years and, in some cases, life in general. We both share having had a Catholic upbringing, both schooled by the Jesuits. We share an Irish Catholic ancestry. I’ve traveled to Bob’s home in Rhode Island, slept overnight in his basement, and met his wife Jane and his two daughters. Occasionally, I’ve met them all where I live in New York City. Over time, my relationship with Bob moved beyond that of a ‘source’ to being a true friend.
Bob Fitzpatrick is one of the finest and most moral and ethical people I know. Since he was charged by the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Massachusetts, I’ve seen the stress and anguish it has brought into his world, particularly with his family. Personally, I think the vendetta against Fitzpatrick has been a travesty. I wrote about the situation in a book I published – Where the Bodies Were Buried: Whitey Bulger and the World That Made Him (William Morrow: 2015), how Bob was excoriated on the witness stand at the Bulger trial. The reasons for his treatment by the prosecutors strike deep at the core of Bulger scandal. I won’t go into that here, except to say that the story Bob has been telling about the Bulger years is a rebuke to many in the system, and the system, for some time now, has had a vested interest in attempting to discredit Bob Fitzpatrick.
Bob Fitzpatrick is not a criminal. He is a good man and does not deserve this. I hope that in sentencing this man you will take into account the totality of his life as a long-time public servant with an exemplary record, a father, an ethical human being who had to navigate his way through one of the most treacherous moral quagmires in the recent history of the Boston FBI and criminal justice system in New England. That Bob Fitzpatrick would be the one going off to prison at the end of all this would be a further stain on the system. Please, Judge Saylor, do not let that happen.