U.S. Ordered to Pay $1 Million to Family of Man Murdered by Gangster Whitey Bulger
Monday, February 20, 2012
The federal government went too far in shielding an FBI informant from the 1970s through the 1990s, not only tipping him off about state and local police investigations, but even covering up his involvement in several murders. Last week a three-judge panel of the First Circuit Appeals Court in Boston ruled that the family of one of those murder victims, Louis Litif, who was murdered by Boston organized crime boss James “Whitey” Bulger in 1980, was entitled to government compensation of $1.15 million.
Litif, a bookmaker facing murder charges, offered to help the Boston police with a drug conspiracy case against Bulger, who was already secretly informing on the rival Patriarca crime family to the FBI. About three weeks after his offer, Litif was found dead in the trunk of his car. The First Circuit concluded that “there was a pattern of FBI leaks of informants to Bulger,” mainly by Bulger’s FBI handler, John Connolly, who “was present when Litif’s plans to cooperate and incriminate Bulger were made known to the Boston Police, …[and who] leaked the names of between six and twelve informants to” Bulger, at least three of whom, including Litif, were later found dead.
In a similar case last year, the First Circuit ruled that the families of Bulger murder victims Michael Donahue and Brian Halloran could not sue the government for their deaths, because even though FBI leaks led to their murders, the two-year statute of limitations on lawsuits against the government had run out. The difference was the large amount of publicly available information linking the FBI to the Donahue and Halloran murders, compared to the lack of such information in the Litif case.
Former FBI agent Connolly is currently in prison, convicted of racketeering and obstruction of justice in 2002, and of second degree murder in 2008, although his wife runs a website maintaining his innocence. Bulger, who went on the lam in December 1994 and spent 12 years on the FBI’s “Ten Most Wanted” list, was captured on June 22, 2011, and is facing charges for 19 murders.
To Learn More:
U.S. Owes $1M for Ratting Out Bookie to Whitey (by Dan McCue, Courthouse News Service)
Litif v. United States (U.S. Court of Appeals, First Circuit) (pdf)
Two Vacancies on FBI 10 Most Wanted List (by Noel Brinkerhoff, AllGov)
The Martyrdom of John Connolly (by David Boeri, Boston Magazine)
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