BOSTON -- From the time he found the rifle used to assassinate Martin Luther King Jr. to the time he personally cuffed the underboss of the Boston Mafia, it sounded like Bob Fitzpatrick had a storied career with the FBI.
The only problem is that many of those stories were lies, according to a federal indictment announced after the retired agent surrendered to the U.S. Marshals Service on Thursday.
Fitzpatrick, 75 and now living in Rhode Island, told many of his whoppers while under oath as a witness testifying for the defense in the trial of notorious mobster James "Whitey" Bulger in 2013, the U.S. Attorney's Office for the District of Massachusetts alleged. The indictment accused him of six counts of perjury and six counts of obstruction of justice in connection with that testimony. Fitzpatrick pleaded not guilty during a brief hearing on Thursday afternoon.
Two years ago Bulger was convicted on murder and other organized-crime charges. But as a powerful underworld figure from the 1970s until he went on the lam in 1995, he had benefited from information gleaned from corrupt FBI agents even as he was supposedly giving them tips about other criminals.
In Fitzpatrick's book about Bulger, the embattled former agent claimed that he was a whistleblower in the FBI's Boston office who wanted to cut the bureau's ties to Bulger partly because the mobster failed to meet expectations as an upper-echelon informant. Betrayal, Whitey Bulger and the FBI Agent Who Fought to Bring Him Down also claimed that Fitzpatrick retrieved the rifle that James Earl Ray used to kill King on the balcony of a Memphis hotel in 1968 and that he personally arrested New England mafia underboss Gennaro Angiulo at a restaurant in 1983.
Lawyers for Bulger put Fitzpatrick on the stand because he bolstered their argument that their client wasn't a snitch.
During the trial, federal prosecutor Brian Kelly raised doubts about many of Fitzpatrick's claims. He cited reports that said Memphis police found the gun and that other agents arrested Angiulo, the Associated Press reported.
"Sir, it’s fair to say, isn’t it, you’re a man who likes to make up stories?” Kelly asked Fitzpatrick, according to the Boston Herald.
The former G-man insisted on the stand that he'd told the truth about everything. Those assertions now form the backbone of the indictment against him.
He "made false material declarations to enhance his own credibility as a former FBI official by making false claims about his professional accomplishments as an FBI agent," the indictment states.
Fitzpatrick's career in the FBI lasted from 1965 to 1986, according to the indictment. In 1980, he was assigned as assistant special agent in charge in the Boston office and supervised the organized crime squad. He resigned shortly after being demoted in '86.
The U.S. Attorney's Office alleges that he lied during the Bulger trial about his rise and fall through the ranks. Fitzpatrick testified back then that he had been assigned to Boston by an assistant director of the FBI on a mission to root out "major problems" in the office. The indictment says his reassignment was "routine" and included no special objectives.
Fitzpatrick was demoted and sent to Providence, Rhode Island, in 1986 because he'd falsified reports about a shooting, according to the indictment. But during the Bulger trial, he denied that and claimed he retired because of corruption in the bureau.
A staffer for Fitzpatrick's attorney Robert Goldstein told HuffPost that he was unavailable to talk.
Earlier on HuffPost:
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