- Special Report September 2005: Use of Confidential Informants
The Top Echelon informant’s have to meet the following three criteria’s before they can be designated as a TOP ECHELON (TE) Informant for the Defendants/ Department of Justice and their components:
(1) Be an accomplished professional serial killer;
(2) Be a high ranking member of a prominent criminal organization;
Conceived by FBI honcho J. Edgar Hoover and first known as the TOP HOODLUM PROGRAM, the TOP ECHELON Informant initiative is still in wide use today. In order for a person to be eligible for the TOP ECHELON INFORMANT PROGRAM for the FBI/Department of Justice‘s , the candidate must first be a high ranking member of a prominent criminal organization and second an accomplished professional serial killer.
James “Whitey” Bulger, Stephen “The Rifleman” Flemmi, Angelo “Sonny” Mercurio and Mark Rossetti, all meet all of the above criteria’s, however, they all never gave up the second criteria and all continued to perform serial acts of murder while acting as protected FBI/Department of Justice TOP ECHELON informants, also all of the above created and manufactured Marino’s RICO case against him using their FBI handlers to do so, as the FBI handlers provided fraudulent information to the 1997 investigating federal grand jury and federal prosecutors to indict, try and convict Marino , improperly as the public records so supports.In essence, the TE program gives informers protection from prosecution for whatever crimes they may commit as long as they continue to provide valuable information to their FBI handlers–and as long as they do not commit murder or extreme violence, which all of the above: Bulger, Flemmi, Mercurio and Mark Rossetti clearly and concededly do, with full knowledge of their FBI handlers: Connolly, Buckley, Ring, DelaMontaine, Morris.
TE informers are valuable only as long as their identity remains a highly classified secret.They are never required to testify at trial or wear a wire. The informers and their agent handlers walk a fine line between crime control and government sanctioned criminal activity.Most FBI informants are given the authority to commit illegal activities such as Gambling, Loan sharking, Bookmaking, Deal Drugs, deal in stolen merchandise. However, they are not allowed to commit violent acts, but for the most part they do commit violent acts and are told that don’t tell their handlers about it. Don’t ask, Don’t tell motto.The agent handlers need the intelligence provided by the informers in order to do their job and stay alive.
Bulger, with his fingers on the quickening pulse of the heat, Bulger knew that with the changing of the guard in New England’s federal law enforcement chain of command it was time to get out of town.Bulger after receiving his tip from FBI agent: Buckley and Quinn’s intelligence whom informed agent Connolly of the 1995 indictments of Salemme, Flemmi and Bulger, allowed Bulger and Salemme to successfully fee.Bulger scooped up his main squeeze, a single mother named Teresa Stanley, and together they set off on a leisurely cross-country motor trip.
New Assistant United States Attorney: Fred Wyshak had arrived in Boston with an agenda: Take down Bulger and Flemmi, even if it meant exposing the FBI‘s secret TOP ECHELON (TE) PROGRAM in the process.Wyshak teamed with prosecutor: Brain Kelly. and soon they were making cases against low-level bookmakers and loan sharks, with their sights set on the WINTER HILL GANG’s bosses: James “Whitey” Bulger and Stephen “The Rifleman” Flemmi.The prosecutors called on Bulger and Flemmi’s former handler, who by then had already retired from the Bureau.When FBI agent Connolly was told the prosecutors were investigating his TE informers for crimes including bookmaking and loan sharking, Connolly maintained that the FBI and higher-ups in the United States Department of Justice had GIVEN THE INFORMERS IMMUNITY for “Anything but murder.”Wyshak informed Connolly that that deal was now off the table.They were going to take down Whitey and his partner, the Rifleman.
The new regime in the Boston Federal Prosecutor’s Office urged Connolly to go along with the program and deny there had ever been an arrangement with Bulger and Flemmi.However, the kind of informers these agents look to recruit made members of organized crime, high-level dope dealers, members of violent terrorist cells–reach those lofty levels in their chosen field only by killing numerous people both deserving and undeserving.So the idea of the TE PROGRAM is paradoxical, as perverse as the cross-dressing paranoid lawman J. Edgar Hoover who conceived it.Yet the program worked in some cases.
In the winter of 1981, guided by Special Agent John Connolly and with information provided by Bulger and Flemmi, the FBI placed bugs in the Boston headquarters of Patriarca underboss Jerry Angiulo.Recordings of the foulmouthed Angiulo ordering hits an berating underlings in his far-flung criminal organization resulted in the indictment and conviction of dozens of high ranking Italian gangsters Italian being the operative word.Some of the Angiulo recordings even mentions the secret informants: Bulger and Flemmi’s murderous greatest hits, which the FBI swiftly covered up.
Eight years later, in October 1989, Bulger and Flemmi gave the FBI the tip that led agents to place the wiretap that recorded for the first time a traditional Mafia induction ceremony, presided over by Raymond Patriarca Jr.The gangsters met in the basement of a home in suburban Medford, Massachusetts.Four new members took the blood oath to kill anyone who violated the organization rules.The TAPE and the transcript made from it were an unparalleled evidentiary bonanza for the feds.Prosecutors used the tape in a number of Mafia trials around the country and the world to prove the existence of the super secret INTERNATIONAL criminal organization.
As the FBI shattered the Mafia’s criminal organization in New England, the path was clear for Bulger, Flemmi and the Winter Hill Gang to seize total control of Organized Crime activity in the New England area thanks to corrupted FBI agents: Connolly, Buckley, Ring, Morris, Flemmi, Callen, DelaMontainge, Newton, Greenleaf, etc. And Federal prosecutors: Jeffrey Auerhahn, George W. Vien, Carole S. Schwartz, Diane Kottmyer, Anita Johnson, Jerry Sullivan.The FBI Headquarters and the Assistant Attorney general should have been advised of the credible information that had been received concerning Angelo “Sonny” Mercurio’s involvement in the Grasso’s murder and the June 16, 1989 Frank “Cadillac Frank” Salemme Sr, attempted murder.
Id. at 157-58;
The Boston FBI , however, DID NOT provide the required notification to headquarters or to the Department of Justice.FBI agent Summerford’s testimony September 15, 1998, transcript at 157-158. Rather, it arrogated to itself the decision to continue to utilize Mercurio as an informant despite the fact that it was believed that he had, while an FBI informant, been involved in violence, in murder (Grasso Murder) and attempted murder (Salemme attempted murder June 16, 1989).
*FBI agent Summerford (Chief of the FBI’s Informant Unit), September 16, 1998, Transcript at 18.
**Salemme, 91 F.Supp.2d at 269 (D.Mass.1999).
***Salemme, 91 F.Supp.2d at 269 (D.Mass.1999)