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Boston and Beyond

July 25, 2013

Ex-Bulger partner admits to lying in court in past

BOSTON (AP) — James “Whitey” Bulger’s former partner in crime returned to the witness stand Wednesday for a fifth day of testimony, with the defense harping on his role as an FBI informant while trying to discredit him as a liar.

Stephen “The Rifleman” Flemmi claims he and Bulger were secret FBI informants for years while they ran the city’s murderous Irish mob known as the Winter Hill Gang.

The 79-year-old confessed killer admitted Wednesday that he didn’t like it when other prison inmates called him a “rat,” but also took a verbal swipe at Bulger.

“I don’t think anybody likes it,” Flemmi said. “I don’t think Mr. Bulger likes it either.”

Bulger, 83, faces charges connected to 19 killings during the 1970s and ’80s while leading the notorious gang. He fled Boston in 1994 and was one of the nation’s most-wanted fugitives until his arrest in California two years ago.

Bulger attorney J.W. Carney Jr. said in court Wednesday that the defense is trying to show jurors that Bulger wasn’t a government informant to undermine the credibility of government witnesses who claim he was.

Carney said he also wants to call former FBI agents to testify about whether John Connolly Jr., a corrupt, former FBI agent who is now in prison, could have taken information from other informant files and put it in a file for someone else.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Brian Kelly argued it’s “flatly false” Bulger wasn’t an informant, and that the type of testimony the defense wanted to elicit could confuse jurors and waste time.

The defense continued to hammer away at Flemmi’s credibility Wednesday, getting him to admit that he’d lied in court testimony years earlier. Flemmi said that if he hadn’t, it would’ve exposed a corrupt relationship with the FBI and that wouldn’t have helped his defense.

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