Sunday, 19 October 2008

Ronald Costello testified that a former cohort threatened to tell the FBI about his loan sharking activities unless he paid him some money

Ronald Costello testified that when a former cohort threatened to tell the FBI about his loan sharking activities unless he paid him some money, he immediately reached out to two of Boston's most notorious gangsters, James "Whitey" Bulger and Stephen "The Rifleman" Flemmi.Costello said he told the mobsters that Edward "Brian" Halloran, a loan shark awaiting trial for murder in Boston, sent a friend to warn him that he "was going to the feds if I didn't give him money."He admitted that he could not remember exactly when he told Bulger and Flemmi that Halloran was threatening to cooperate, but thought it was about a month or two before Bulger shot Halloran and another man to death during a drive-by shooting on Boston's waterfront in May 1982.Costello, who said he now works for the MBTA and lives in Winthrop, was called by the defense at the murder trial of retired FBI agent John J. Connolly Jr. in an effort to cast doubt on claims that Connolly instigated Halloran's death by warning Bulger he was cooperating with the FBI.Sixty-eight-year-old Connolly, who retired from the FBI in 1990, is on trial for a different murder, the August 1982 slaying in Florida of Boston business consultant John B. Callahan. He is accused of warning Bulger and Flemmi, both longtime FBI informants, that Callahan was being sought for questioning by the FBI and would probably implicate them in the slayings of Halloran and a Tulsa businessman.However, prosecutors have been allowed to present additional evidence in a bid to prove that Connolly had a corrupt relationship with his informants, including allegations that he provoked Halloran's slaying.During cross-examination, Costello testified that he met Connolly at a bar in Faneuil Hall in Boston sometime in 1982 and the agent told him that Bulger and Flemmi liked Costello."Did you think it was unusual for an FBI agent to be telling you at a bar that two known criminals liked you?" asked Miami-Dade assistant state attorney Michael Von Zamft."No," Costello said. "I was drunk, coked up, I was crossed up. Everybody was my friend, except for Halloran."The defense also called two police officers who investigated prior attacks on Halloran, in a attempt to show that he was targeted long before he was killed.Boston Police Detective Timothy Lynch testified that he responded to a call of shots fired near a union hall in Dorchester on June 6, 1981, and found Halloran sitting in a parking lot uninjured in his Cadillac, its rear window shattered by bullets.Retired Quincy Police Detective David Schofield testified that he investigated a report that a gun was fired at Halloran's Quincy condo in April 1981. He said he found a bullet mark on the building, and that Halloran told him he suspected it was fired by one of his loan shark victims, whose leg he had broken.Yesterday, before the jury came into the courtroom, Connolly had an emotional reunion with his 17-year-old twin sons, who came to court for the first time since testimony began five weeks ago. He had not seen them in more than four years and remarked over how tall they were.Connolly, who is serving a 10-year prison term for a 2002 federal racketeering conviction, hugged each of the teenagers and chatted for several minutes, separated by a railing that divides the spectator section from the interior courtroom. He took off his eyeglasses and wiped tears from his eyes.


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