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Betrayal: Whitey Bulger and the FBI Agent Who Fought to Bring Him Down

Betrayal: Whitey Bulger and the FBI Agent Who Fought to Bring Him Down

4.5 8
by Robert Fitzpatrick, Jon Land, Michael Prichard (Narrated by)

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The Jack Nicholson film The Departed didn't tell half of their story. A poor kid from the slums, Robert Fitzpatrick grew up to become a stellar FBI agent and challenge the country's deadliest gangsters. Relentless in his desire to catch, prosecute, and convict Whitey Bulger, Fitzpatrick fought the nation's most determined cop-gangster battle since Melvin Purvis hunted


The Jack Nicholson film The Departed didn't tell half of their story. A poor kid from the slums, Robert Fitzpatrick grew up to become a stellar FBI agent and challenge the country's deadliest gangsters. Relentless in his desire to catch, prosecute, and convict Whitey Bulger, Fitzpatrick fought the nation's most determined cop-gangster battle since Melvin Purvis hunted, confronted, and killed John Dillinger. In his crusade to bring Bulger to justice, Fitzpatrick faced not only Whitey but also corrupt FBI agents, along with political cronies and enablers from Boston to Washington who, in one way or another, blocked his efforts at every step. Even when Fitzpatrick discovered the very organization to which he had sworn allegiance was his biggest obstacle, the agent continued to pursue Whitey and his gang . . . knowing that they were prepared to murder anyone who got in their way.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"An essential [listen] for those interested in the history of crime investigation and techniques used in modern-day law enforcement." ---Library Journal
Library Journal
As an FBI agent, Fitzpatrick's career encompassed many high-profile cases, including the investigation of the 1964 murders of three civil rights activists (upon which the movie Mississippi Burning was based) and the capture of Martin Luther King Jr.'s assassin, James Earl Ray. During the 1980s, Fitzpatrick was sent to the bureau's Boston field office to investigate possible irregularities with their use of informants involved in the drug trade. Using one of the skills learned at the FBI Academy (chromatics, a method for evaluating possible psychopaths), the author identified a suspicious, unreliable informant who was a suspect in numerous unsolved murders in South Boston—James "Whitey" Bulger. Fitzpatrick then began an extensive investigation into Bulger's activities and met great resistance within the FBI, a conflict that eventually resulted in his resignation and retirement from the bureau. Fitzpatrick's efforts were ultimately vindicated when Bulger was caught in June 2011 after 16 years at large. VERDICT An essential read for those interested in the history of crime investigation and techniques used in modern-day law enforcement. [See Prepub Alert, 8/1/11.]—Claire Franek, Muhlenberg Cty. P.L., Greenville, KY

Product Details

Tantor Media, Inc.
Publication date:
Edition description:
MP3 - Unabridged CD
Product dimensions:
5.30(w) x 7.40(h) x 0.60(d)

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By Robert Fitzpatrick, Jon Land

Tom Doherty Associates

Copyright © 2011 Robert Fitzpatrick and Jon Land
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-1-4299-6366-4



"Fitz," Assistant Director Roy McKinnon said the day he summoned me to his office at headquarters in Washington in late 1980, "we need an Irishman to go to Boston to kick ass and take names."

I laughed but he didn't.

"Any suggestions?" he asked instead, staring me in the eye.

McKinnon was the ultimate straight shooter. He had a square jaw and wore his salt-and-pepper hair cropped military close. I seem to remember he'd been a Marine; either way, there was a directness of purpose about him befitting a military mind-set, right down to the orderly nature of his office, in which nothing, not even a single scrap of paper, was ever out of place. He told me the assignment was important for a variety of reasons. He sounded grave about my new adventure and talked about difficult problems in Boston without specifically outlining what those problems were. Right out of the gate, loud and clear, he ordered me to put Boston on the "straight and narrow." My initial reaction was it sounded like déjà vu, having had an assignment in Miami in the mid-to-late 1970s where, in fact, I did kick ass and take names in the ABSCAM investigation that nabbed numerous public officials, including a sitting U.S. senator. ABSCAM was a sting operation that targeted corrupt politicians and possible law enforcement personnel. I supervised the sting undercover, getting targets, including Senator Harrison Williams (D-NJ), to implicate themselves on tape. It was, in all respects, the FBI at its best.

I was Miami's Economic Crimes (EC) supervisor at the time and also worked undercover on our yacht, the Left Hand. I had procured the sixty-foot yacht from U.S. Customs, which had acquired the boat as part of their seizure in a major drug sting. We needed a "come-on" for our undercover gig and the Left Hand fit the bill beautifully. Before we docked the boat in Boca Raton, my squad cleaned it and installed surveillance equipment around the large foredeck, which was perfect for entertaining, and inside a trio of well-appointed cabins for private meetings. Soon, the Left Hand became an attraction and developed a notorious reputation in South Florida, fostered in large part by our undercover persona.

ABSCAM became the biggest case ever on the EC squad, recovering millions of dollars in fraudulent securities and various white-collar crime scams. We decided to have a final party and invited all of the criminals we had evidence on to attend. We equipped the boat with additional surveillance equipment and captured our future arrestees on tape. The "Sheik," an undercover agent, was posing as the wealthiest person in Miami, a connected Arab. While I sat up in the control room with the Strike Force chief, we encountered a problem. Senator Williams had appeared and demanded that he be allowed to attend our party. We declined and he demanded to see the Sheik anyway.

Under orders from FBIHQ we were told in no way could the senator board the boat. The Strike Force chief insisted we finish the sting, but FBIHQ demanded we close the operation down. HQ's concern was that allowing the senator to come aboard a boat laden with druggers, prostitutes, and criminals might be seen as a form of entrapment.

Afer much deliberation with FBIHQ, the FBI special agent who was playing the sheik, told me, "Bob, I won't allow alcohol, drugs, or anything that could harm the senator aboard my boat!"

I laughed at him and said, "You're crazy. What kind of party are we supposed to throw?"

He looked at me and, in the dignified role and manner of a true sheik, said, "I am the sheik and I won't let it happen!"

The party went forward on the pretext its host, our undercover sheik, could not be in the presence of drugs or alcohol for Muslim religious reasons. The recorded conversation and surveillance tapes played at Harrison Williams's trial dispelled any notion that we had entrapped the senator, and he was found guilty and convicted in federal court by his own voice. I took no pleasure in taking down a sitting U.S. senator; to me, he was a criminal who was extorting agents of the federal government sworn to uphold the law.

In this unique experence, I became no stranger to corruption, learning how to dig it out and destroy it. And that's why I supposed I was being transferred to Boston.

Tom Kelly, my former boss in Miami and an FBIHQ deputy at the time, had filled McKinnon in on my experience in ABSCAM, making it plain that I had cleaned up Miami and could probably do the same in Boston. Contrary to what was apparently going wrong up there, a key factor in the decision to send me north was my ability to pursue investigations without anyone tipping off the press or the target. ABSCAM was successful because all FBI agents working for me diligently did their jobs of investigating high-ranking government officials in a major scam without a single leak. Not one.

I was on a career fast track, groomed, I anticipated, for even bigger things to come. Not bad for a kid who'd grown up in a church-run institution, an orphanage on Staten Island called Mount Loretto. But that's where my dream, this very FBI dream, was born.



"I have to pee," I whined to the cop. Then I screamed, "I really have to pee!"

The cop, whose name was O'Rourke, looked at me indifferently. I thought he could care less until he knelt, picked me up, and carried me to the kitchen sink. After I relieved myself, he carried me back into the living room of my New York City apartment demanding clean underwear and clothes from my warring parents. Officer O'Rourke, who came from the 114th Precinct, had five kids of his own, so I guess I should consider myself fortunate he was the one who responded to yet another fight between my parents that was loud enough to rouse the neighbors.

"You guys better calm down in there," he called to my mother and father. "Your son's coming with me. Pack some clothes in a bag."

They'd been warned what the upshot of one more complaint would be, but that hadn't stopped their constant onslaught in the least. This time O'Rourke had responded after some neighbors complained that "the people next door were going to kill each other." O'Rourke knew if he couldn't stop my parents from doing that, he could at least stop them from doing it to me.

"If you guys don't stop with the bullshit I'll be taking you in!" he shouted when they still failed to heed his warning. "Right now I'm taking Robert over to the Fourteenth. You'll be hearing from the social worker in the morning."

O'Rourke bent over to pick me up again, this time heading for the door. I started to cry so O'Rourke soothed me by explaining that we were going for a short car ride to the police station. The elevator was broken again and he carried me down all eight flights of stairs, without the bag of clothes my parents had failed to produce.

"This is O'Rourke," he said to the police dispatcher. "I've got a four-year-old ready for a remand to social services. Get some clothes and food and I'll see you at the station in about fifteen minutes."

"What the hell are you doing, O'Rourke?" came the dispatcher's response.

"See you in fifteen" was all O'Rourke said in response.

So there I was, a scared four-year-old basically abandoned by my mother and father. At least that's the way the Family Court put it when the judge remanded me to the custody of the State. After shuffling through a series of child shelters, I wound up at Mount Loretto, better known as the "Mount," then the largest child-care home in the United States, with over a thousand charges living in "cottages" spread across 524 acres on Staten Island.

My initial stop at the Mount was the Quarantine House. First thing the sisters did when I arrived was to assign me a bed, check me for bugs and lice, and give me a physical exam. Everything was antiseptic and smelled like alcohol. And everything was like a portrait painted in stark white. The sisters wore white habits, white shoes. Their head coverings were white and even their rosary beads were white. The quarantine floor was lined with beds draped in white sheets set atop a white marble floor. The floor was cold all the time.

Once I was deemed "clean," I was taken to the residential side, consisting of six cottages housing sixty-six boys each. In Cottage 1, we were all new orphans, each with a box with a lid in which to store our possessions. Most of us had none. The boxes were arranged in a rectangular fashion around the perimeter of the cottage. Other boxes were attached to the cottage wall — these held our school clothes, shoes, and field clothes sometimes. All of our clothes were hand-me-downs, not at all fashionable or comfortable but better than nothing. In the lavatory we had stations that held toothbrushes, soap, and a towel on a hook. There were eight commodes and six urinals for sixty-six children. Half the cottage took showers at a time.

For sleeping, each of us had a cot on either the second or third floor. Bed wetters, all thirty of them, were crammed into the third floor, and the stench of urine wafted throughout the cottage, especially bad in the summer months when the heat putrefied the stench further and in the dead of winter when the windows were all closed. I would pass through all six cottages as I grew older, the stench evolving with the years too, though the routine and accommodations otherwise remained unchanged.

My two older brothers, Larry and Gerard, and older sister, Diane, had been moved to the Mount as well. But I hardly ever saw them. The older children almost never mixed with the younger under any circumstances, siblings or not. I'd often stare out the windows or across the fields, hoping I'd spot one of them. In my mind I saw myself lighting out toward Larry, Gerard, or Diane. But even if I'd glimpsed them, I'd never have done it. I was much too scared to dare challenge authority or break the rules. We were sometimes able to sit together in church on Sundays, but that was it. Regimentation and regulation were everything. Corporal punishment was the rule, not the exception.

There was brutality in this world where power was the only currency. I remember walking across the bridge that ran near a drainage ditch between the dormitory and dining hall. The bridge's structure was worn and it shook a bit when packed with young boys rushing to lunch to beat the February cold.

One wind-blown dreary day, as our counselors led us across the bridge, one of the ten-year-olds from my cottage yelled out, "Fuck you!"

"Who yelled that?" the counselor named Scarvelli demanded, stopping everyone in their tracks.

All of us remained silent.

"I'm gonna ask youse guys again: who yelled that?"

"Last chance," another especially sadistic counselor, Farber, chimed in. "Or you all pay."

But there were no rats in this group, so the counselors marched us straight back to our cottage where we were told to stand fast near our "boxes" directly beneath the hissing steam pipes that heated the buildings — or at least were supposed to.

"All right, you little assholes, grab the pipes," counselor Farber ordered. "Everybody holds on until somebody talks. Let go and we'll beat the shit out of you."

The pipes clanked and hissed as the hot steamed water coursed through them. I held tight, feeling my hands beginning to blister, and watched my first cottage mate drop to the floor to be beaten and interrogated, then the second, followed by a third and a fourth. When the bulk of us finally dropped, it was too much for the counselors to handle. They had us stand at our boxes and demanded each boy come into the wash-up area where one by one we were systematically berated and beaten again. Since I was the last to fall, they beat me only once but twice as hard. They had the power.

No supervisor interceded. Either they didn't know what was going on or they didn't care. Scarvelli and Farber beat some of the boys worse than others, including me since I was one of the youngest and smallest. But I didn't tell them what they wanted to know. No one did.

And neither did anyone rat out Scarvelli and Farber. We all knew that if we ratted out the counselors, we'd be beaten much worse and end up longing for the blisters the steam pipes left on our small hands. The message was clear and all of us got it: They were bullies and we were helpless against them.

My escape from times like these came in the form of the old-time radio programs playing over Sister Mary Assumpta's radio. She was kind enough to leave her door open after lights out so the sound filtered out into the dormitory. It was often garbled and not very loud, but I was entranced, whisked away to a world dominated by heroes where the good guys always won and the bad guys, the bullies, lost.

I'd lie in my second-floor dormitory bed listening to The Lone Ranger, The Shadow, and especially, This Is Your FBI. I say especially because I was already "old" and jaded enough by experience to know the difference between what was real and what wasn't. Neither the Lone Ranger nor the Shadow could swoop in and save me, because they weren't real, but the FBI was. I would lie there and imagine myself becoming a swashbuckling, crime-fighting hero someday, in large part because my life up to that point had been so bereft of them. In all of the "cops and robbers" games, I was always the FBI agent who got his man. I thought of O'Rourke and the others at the 114th and how kind they were.

It might sound corny, but in the Mount's big, Gothic church there was a huge stained-glass window. It showed Jesus with children around him and the inscription read, "Suffer the little children come unto me for their's is the Kingdom of Heaven." Jesus became my rescuer, to be replaced later, in my "cops and robbers" game, by the FBI.

In those minutes, as I lay with my eyes closed listening to the garbled tales of This Is Your FBI, I was spirited far away from the Mount to places where I was happy and secure, reliant on no one and fearing not a single soul. And maybe someday I was going to become for the world, and the country, what no one had ever been for me.

I'd found my dream, and through the years and pain that followed, I never let go of it.


BOSTON, 1981

The FBI had lacked an authoritative face since the heyday of J. Edgar Hoover's reign as chief. His fall from grace had exposed plenty of what was thought wrong with the Bureau and unfairly dwarfed much of what was right. Certainly no one individual could restore the lost luster and repair a tarnished image. But appointing successful, high-profile agents in top-level positions seemed the next best thing. My wife and two young boys, unfortunately were less thrilled about the prospects of moving yet again. It seemed as if, in my fifteen years with the Bureau since my marriage, every time we'd just about get settled, I was transferred. Coming to a top-ten office like Boston to take over as ASAC (Assistant Special Agent in Charge) represented the pinnacle of my career, and I could see myself staying in the city for some time.

But my wife wasn't buying that, and my marriage dissolved. My wife was tired of sharing me with a dream that knew no end. I tried to convince her that Boston could be just that, the final stop. But she feared I'd end up returning first to Washington en route to yet another promotion and posting. She believed I loved the Bureau more than her.

She was both wrong and right, something I considered often on long, lonely nights in my small apartment, where it always seemed dark outside.

My entry into Boston had been through the proverbial back door. On the face of it I appeared to have a routine FBI transfer with no ulterior motive; there was no paperwork about my "official" mandate. Just an Irish guy going to an Irish city on another assignment.

I came to Boston straight from my post as head of the investigative nerve center of the FBI in Washington, D.C., the Special Agent Transfer Unit. SATU, an unusual sounding acronym, was the FBI unit from which agents were transferred from particular offices throughout the U.S. and abroad to other assignments, and from where investigative resources and funding were allocated to the FBI field offices worldwide. Not a single major case unfolded without my knowledge and involvement. As a bureau chief I had the responsibility to make recommendations after reviewing requests for manpower, investigative resource allocation assistance, and "specials." Major cases and specials were defined as the most important investigations, demanding supplemental manpower and sometimes extraordinary technical assistance in the form of surveillance equipment as advanced as any in the world at the time.


Excerpted from Betrayal by Robert Fitzpatrick, Jon Land. Copyright © 2011 Robert Fitzpatrick and Jon Land. Excerpted by permission of Tom Doherty Associates.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Meet the Author

Robert Fitzpatrick served more than twenty years as an FBI agent and chief in a career highlighted by his involvement in the Martin Luther King, Jr., killing and the ABSCAM investigation in Miami that resulted in the indictments of numerous public officials.

Jon Land is the acclaimed author of many bestsellers, including The Last Prophecy and Blood Diamonds.

Michael Prichard has recorded well over five hundred audiobooks and was named one of SmartMoney magazine's Top Ten Golden Voices. His numerous awards and accolades include an Audie Award and several AudioFile Earphones Awards.

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Betrayal 4.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 8 reviews.
Russ_Ilg More than 1 year ago
BETRAYAL: Whitey Bulger and the FBI Agent who Faught to Bring Him Down Reviewed by Russ Ilg Jon Land and Robert Fitzpatrick have combined to bring to paper the greatest “nonfiction novel” I have had the honor to read. The story of how the FBI protected and sheltered one of the most vicious and deranged killers in history is beyond what any fiction writer could scarcely imagine as a storyline and what Truman Capote had in mind when he coined the phrase in the wake of In Cold Blood. The story begins when Robert Fitzpatrick was transferred to the Boston Office of the FBI to do what he had done his whole career: close. And he was transferred to Boston to fix a broken office and reign in the problems there, just as he had done in Miami office with the ABSCAM investigation on top of his roles in the Martin Luther King Jr. assassination and civil rights murders and bombings in the 60s in Mississippi.† This book is such a page burner that I had to stop and see if the sun was still up. I simply could not put it down. It grabs you from page one and leads you on the ride of your life, and on that ride you will be brought to your knees in fear as to how corrupt the Justice Department and FBI were in this case. Officials in both simply sat back and allowed an Irish Boston gangster named Whitey Bulger to do whatever he wanted as long as they thought he was giving them info on New England’s Italian mob. And Bulger played them to the very end. This will go down as one of the blackest eyes the FBI has ever received, Through his tireless work, Robert Fitzpatrick tried to make everyone up to the assistant director and head of the Organized Crime unit in Washington understand that they were being conned by one of the greatest con men in history. †The FBI was so sure that Whitey Bulger was giving them what they needed they did everything they could to stop Agent Fitzpatrick from doing his job to the point that he finally had to leave the only life he had known and loved and respected and honored his whole career.† The recent capture of Bulger in June did not at all close one of the darkest chapters in the storied history of the FBI. Soon he will go on trial for at least nineteen murders, most of which were committed while working for the FBI and at least a dozen after Fitzpatrick recommended his tenure as an informant be ended. The Bureau did serve up one of Whitey's handlers, John Connolly, who was convicted and sent to prison for accepting bribes and, more recently, accessory to the murder of one Fitzpatrick’s own informants who could have given Bulger up once and for all. This book is a huge read, providing an inside look as to how bad things can get and how many people’s lives are thrown away toward what is believed to be the greater good. Some reports link Bulger to over forty murders in total—think about the national manhunts that have been authorized for far, far less than that.†The great part is that after reading the book you’ll be primed to follow the next chapter in this true story in what promises to be one of the highest profile murder trials in Massachusetts history when Whitey’s day of reckoning finally comes in April. I had the great honor of speaking to Robert Fitzpatrick for about thirty minutes on the phone and learned even more of the inside story and also the fact that for quite awhile after leaving the FBI he was in constant fear for his life. The fact that this novel-like tale is real, that it actually h
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
OK, so I'm biased - I live in a Dept of Justice law enforcement family.  Having said that, Mr Fitzpatrick needs vindication!!   This explains so very much of the B.S. that went on in my early career - you know the kind: whispers that suddenly quiet, furtive looks, inexplicable memos....   Everyone knows Whitey was a Fed; the confusion was who was on whose dole!  Having been in the same situation (albeit with lesser stakes), it takes a lot to stand up to the establishment.  You risk your career, your retirement, your very soul.  Mr Fitzpatrick should know 2 things:  1) they'll never take away your integrity; 2) why did no one tell you about the Dept of Labor and the WHISTLEBLOWER ACT???  It protects even we Dept of Justice employees!  JG will never sleep soundly again - but you will.  God Bless you!!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
In my opinion the evidence presented here just concluded Bulgers trial. No need to go any further and waste tax payers money. Tried and convicted.
Gerry-L More than 1 year ago
This is an incredible look inside the inner workings of the Boston office of the FBI and the nefarious relationship that developed with members of the Winter Hill Gang. While proporting to be fighting the crimes of the Italian Mafia the FBI protected the Irish Mafia to the extent of providing cover for all manner of crimes, including murder. This is a sad indictment of our law enforcement system (especially the FBI) and the handling of informants. A well written and fast paced novel that will keep you shaking your head throughout.
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ReformedSmoker More than 1 year ago
Good read but obviously bitter. Would like to know why customer book reviews are being deleted or censored under Tom Foley's book "Most Wanted"?