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June 14, 2013

Retiring Boston FBI chief speaks to Marblehead Rotary

MARBLEHEAD — He reignited the manhunt that led to the capture of Whitey Bulger. He was a key player in the effort that identified and ultimately caught the Boston Marathon bombers. And with only a few days remaining until his retirement, Richard DesLauriers, special agent in charge of the Boston FBI office, is hoping to see the recovery of priceless paintings stolen from the Isabella Stuart Gardner Museum 23 years ago.

“We have a high degree of confidence we know who (the thieves) are,” DesLauriers told a meeting of the Marblehead Rotary yesterday. After sparking an innovative media effort that helped snare the elusive Bulger, DesLauriers decided to do the same thing to revive the long dormant case of the Gardner heist. Results have been encouraging.

“We did get a lot of good input,” he said. “That investigation will continue.”

These efforts followed a low point for the FBI in Boston, a period where links to Bulger led to the conviction of Agent John Connolly in 2005. All that seemed forgotten, however, in the warm and enthusiastic welcome the Rotarians at the Boston Yacht Club gave DesLauriers yesterday.

A Longmeadow native, he spoke quickly, clearly and at length. In a crowded room where virtually everyone wore name tags, he called on questioners by their first names. On the other hand, he was meticulous in avoiding certain subjects or giving opinions.

There was no discussion of the ongoing Bulger case, the marathon bombing or even recent news about National Security Agency spying.

“I can’t really comment on that,” he said.

And when asked later if he ever worries about government gathering too much information on American citizens, he stressed merely that the FBI follows the law and procedures set out by the Attorney General.

“We always abide by strict internal guidelines,” said the Assumption College graduate.

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