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Prisoner Education Guide

Informant/Hit Man In 20 Murders Released After 12 Years; Paid $20,000

by John E. Dannenberg

A hit man with 20 cold-blooded murders under his belt, but who turned government informant to expose a dirty FBI agent, was released from a Massachusetts state prison in 2007 after serving only 12 years. To help him get on his feet, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) paid him $20,000 in “gate money.”

John Martorano, now 67, cut a deal in 1998 while up on federal racketeering charges and turned informant to expose FBI agent John Connolly, Jr. on his racketeering career. Martorano’s testimony helped expose the dirty relationship with the FBI and resulted in major murder indictments against James “Whitey” Bulger and Stephen “The Rifleman” Flemmi. Martorano, Bulger and Flemmi had committed execution murders - eight in the 1960s, ten in the 1970s and two more in 1981 and 1982. Federal authorities were only able to get to Bulger and Flemmi by first getting to Connolly, the inside FBI con. Connolly was convicted and sentenced to 10 years for racketeering and presently faces trial in Florida for allegedly helping Bulger, Flemmi and Martorano commit the 1982 murder.

To get to Bulger and Flemmi, after Connolly fell, the DEA recruited Martorano as a witness ten years ago. Thus, it appears that Martorano went to prison and then entered the in- prison witness protection program to “earn” his way out. At present, Flemmi is serving a life sentence but Bulger remains a fugitive on the FBI’s 10-most-wanted list. Martorano will testify against Bulger if and when he is captured.

Martorano’s preferential treatment has raised a storm of controversy. Boston attorney James Duggan, who represents the family of the 1982 victim - a man lured to Florida and executed by the murderous Bulger gang - wryly commented that Martorano “did just one-half year for each murder plus was paid $1,000 per head.” Martorano’s attorney countered that Martorano had “contributed mightily to the criminal justice system.” Tim Connors, whose father was gunned down in a phone booth in 1975 by the trio, added that it was wrong for the government to pay the killer while refusing to pay victims’ families in civil suits brought over the FBI’s handling of Bulger and Flemmi (who, in turn, were also long time FBI informants).

Martorano was offered to be placed on the witness protection program upon his release, but declined. If he had taken it, he would have been supported for life by the government. Instead, he appeared on CBS’s 60 Minutes in January 2008 and described his former life as a killer.

Martorano ate well over his 12 years in prison; he was given a couple thousand dollars for his commissary account. However, he has set aside $5,000 of his gate money for income taxes. Of course, even if he cheated on his taxes, the FBI might be willing to deal again.

Source: The Boston Globe.

 

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