FLEMMI Sentenced In Racketeering Case

Tuesday, August 21st 2001, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

(BOSTON) - Notorious gangster Stephen ``The Rifleman'' Flemmi was sentenced Tuesday to 10 years in prison under a plea bargain that resolves extortion, money laundering and obstruction of justice charges against him.

Flemmi, who helped run South Boston's Winter Hill Gang with James ``Whitey'' Bulger and worked as an FBI informant for more than two decades, was sentenced by U.S. District Judge Mark L. Wolf.

The sentence covers seven counts of extorting money from bookmakers and a drug dealer from 1978 to 1992.

It also includes money laundering charges covering hundreds of thousands of dollars in real estate deals from 1984 to 1997.

Prosecutors said they cut the deal because they wanted to dispose of three smaller cases against Flemmi and concentrate on the most serious case against him _ a racketeering indictment handed up last year that charges Flemmi in 10 murders. The victims include Debra Davis, a former girlfriend, and Deborah Hussey, Flemmi's 26-year-old stepdaughter.

Flemmi faces life in prison on those charges.

In addition to the federal trial in the murders of 10 people, Flemmi also faces capital murder charges for two killings in Florida and Oklahoma.

In sentencing Flemmi, Wolf blasted the FBI for its 30-year relationship with Flemmi and Bulger. Much of his criticism repeated what he said in 1998 when he found that at least 12 FBI agents had sanctioned overlooking the gang's illegal activities for their prized informants.

Bulger and Flemmi provided information that helped the FBI bring down the Italian Mafia in New England.

``If Mr. Flemmi has committed any of the crimes with which he remains charged, he was able to do so because of the protection of the Federal Bureau of Investigations,'' Wolf said.

The judge said he believes the FBI's misconduct is not limited solely to cases involving Flemmi and Bulger.

``This culture is enduring and exists today,'' Wolf said.

In a later hearing before Judge Joseph Tauro, Flemmi was sentenced on conspiracy and obstruction of justice charges in a case that also charges his FBI handler, John J. Connolly Jr., with warning him and Bulger that they were about to be indicted in 1995. Connolly is still awaiting trial.

Flemmi received a 41-month sentence on those charges, to run concurrent with the 10-year sentence he received from Wolf.

Under the terms of the plea bargain, prosecutors agreed to drop racketeering charges, including four 30-year-old murders.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Brian Kelly said that prosecutors see the plea agreement as an appropriate end to a six-year legal saga.

``We think it's a reasonable resolution for all parties,'' Kelly said.

Kelly said that despite FBI misconduct exposed by the case, prosecutors were able to put ``an extremely dangerous individual'' behind bars.

Flemmi has already spent about 6 1/2 years behind bars while awaiting trial. The deal does not require Flemmi to testify against his co-defendants.

``I think that this a very good resolution of three very difficult cases for Mr. Flemmi,'' said Flemmi's lawyer, Ken Fishman.

Bulger, the reputed head of the Winter Hill gang, has been missing since January 1995 and is now on the FBI's Ten Most Wanted list with a $1 million reward for information leading to his capture.