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Former FBI agent tied to Whitey Bulger wins release from prison

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Former FBI agent John Connolly, who was imprisoned after his tip to gangster James Whitey Bulger led to a shooting death, on Wednesday won his release from prison for medical reasons.

The Florida Commission on Offender Review voted 2-1 to grant the former agent’s request for release. Connolly, who his lawyer said is suffering from melanomas and diabetes, is expected to have less than a year to live, The Associated Press reported.    

Connolly was Bulger’s FBI handler and recruited the Boston-area gangster as an informant in the 1970s. In exchange, he provided tips to Bulger, including the fact that World Jai Alai President John Callahan was attempting to connect Bulger’s Winter Hill Gang to a killing. 

After Callahan was killed in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., in 1982, Connolly was convicted of second-degree murder and given a 40-year sentence in 2008. He currently is in a prison in Lake Butler, Fla. 

The former agent was also convicted of obstruction of justice in 2002 for safeguarding Bulger and his gang and providing them tips about internal informants. 

Bulger hid from law enforcement for 16 years and was one of the FBI’s most wanted after Connolly tipped him off about an incoming indictment. Bulger was arrested in California in 2011 and killed in federal prison in 2018.

Last April, Connolly requested a release from prison due to “multiple severe medical conditions” at the start of the coronavirus pandemic, according to the Miami Herald.

Tags FBI FBI agent John Connolly Prison prison release Whitey Bulger

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