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June 29, 2013

Ex-FBI agent faces tough questions in Bulger trial

BOSTON — Lawyers for James “Whitey” Bulger used an admitted corrupt FBI agent yesterday to suggest to the jury at Bulger’s racketeering trial that he was not an FBI informant, a key contention of prosecutors.

John Morris, an ex-agent who admitted taking $7,000 in cash and two cases of wine from Bulger, was grilled by Bulger’s lawyer about a 700-page file the FBI filled with information Bulger allegedly gave them while an informant in the 1970s and ’80s.

Morris, who received immunity from prosecution, said he accepted gifts from Bulger while former agent John Connolly — who Morris supervised — was Bulger’s FBI handler.

He acknowledged that he panicked when Bulger and his partner, Stephen “The Rifleman” Flemmi, were indicted in 1995 because he knew his acceptance of bribes from Bulger could be exposed.

“I was worried about whether I could be prosecuted,” Morris said. “I certainly did not want my bad behavior known in any manner, shape or form.”

Bulger, 83, is accused of participating in 19 murders during the 1970s and ’80s while he was allegedly leading the Winter Hill Hang and simultaneously providing information to the FBI on the New England Mafia and other criminals.

Connolly was convicted of tipping off Bulger to the 1995 indictment, prompting him to flee Boston in late 1994 and remain one of the nation’s most wanted fugitives until his capture in Santa Monica, Calif., in 2011.

Morris acknowledged that he was concerned that he could potentially be prosecuted in the murder of Edward “Brian” Halloran, who prosecutors say was killed by Bulger after Connolly told Bulger that Halloran was cooperating with authorities against Bulger’s gang.

Morris testified Thursday that he told Connolly about Halloran’s cooperation. Another man, Michael Donahue, was killed during the same shooting because he happened to give Halloran a ride home that night.

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