This is the dark side of The Sopranos, The Godfather with all the romanticism stripped away, organized crime shown for what it really is and the terrible costs it bears.
But at its heart BETRAYAL is the story of one man’s absolute refusal to quit, even after facing the ultimate betrayal and, finally, long after he was forced to resign, leads to his spectacular vindication thanks to a series of groundbreaking trials years before Bulger’s capture in June of 2011.
***on BETRAYAL by Bob Fitzpatrick and Jon Land
HANK PHILLIPPI RYAN: Think of Melvin Purvis' dogged pursuit of John Dillinger, or Elliot Ness taking on Al Capone. Think of BETRAYAL. This hot-off-the-presses nonfiction thriller—just out this week!--tells the story of Robert Fitzpatrick, one of the most celebrated FBI agents of the modern era.
In 1981 Fitzpatrick’s career took him to Boston where he found himself up against his greatest adversary ever: the notorious, and recently captured, Boston gangster James “Whitey” Bulger.
Bulger had been on the books as an FBI informant against the mafia for years. But Fitzpatrick quickly uncovered the fact that Whitey was providing no real information – while reaping the rewards of FBI protection that ultimately enabled him to murder three of Fitzpatrick’s informants after corrupt agents leaked word they were ready to talk. But did anyone listen to him?
The fabulous Jon Land collaborated with Fitzpatrick to tell this stranger-than-fiction tale…
THE MOST NOTORIOUS GANGSTER EVER
Bob Fitzpatrick was appointed ASAC (Assistant Special Agent in Charge) of the Boston office of the FBI with a clear mandate: “Kick ass and take names.” And the ass he really needed to kick was that of an Irish gangster named Whitey Bulger.
But what Fitzpatrick, one of the most celebrated agents of his time, didn’t know, couldn’t know, was that the adversary he was about to confront was fast becoming the most notorious gangster in all the annals of American crime history. Bigger than Al Capone, bigger than any of the infamous heads of the Five Families in New York, bigger than John Gotti and every other name of criminal legend. Why?
Because only Bulger had the FBI and the Justice Department acting as willing accomplices in his murderous rise to the pinnacle of the criminal underworld.
Sound crazy? Maybe so, but it happened. Turned out, James “Whitey” Bulger, who, remember, is Irish, was then on the books as a Top Echelon (TE) informant. And in the Bureau’s mind, he was the perfect guy to supply crucial evidence against the Italian mafia!
But Fitzpatrick ascertained that Bulger was providing no evidence of the kind whatsoever, never mind anything of note. He was ripping off the FBI. Using the agency to his own ends.
Yet instead of taking Fitzpatrick’s advice and targeting Bulger, the FBI did nothing. The Justice Department through Jeremiah O’Sullivan, head of the Organized Crime Strike Force for New England, did nothing. No less than William Weld, then the U.S. Attorney for Massachusetts and future governor of the State, did nothing. Fitzpatrick warned officials at the very highest levels of the FBI in Washington about what was happening. They, too, did nothing.
They did nothing--Even when no less than three informants capable of proving everything he said was true were murdered. And that was thanks directly to sources inside the Boston FBI office who leaked the names of those informants to Bulger—which, of course, in that vicious culture of corruption, assured their deaths.
Meanwhile, Bulger consolidated the power the FBI had enabled him to seize in the first place. His equally notorious contemporaries and predecessors never had the government’s help, never had the FBI and Justice Department riding shotgun over their murderous exploits. Elliot Ness put Al Capone away on tax invasion. Melvin Purvis gunned down John Dillinger. John Gotti, the so-called “Teflon Don,” died in prison.
Whitey Bulger, on the other hand, went on to allegedly murder more than a dozen people under the watchful eye of the FBI after Bob Fitzpatrick recommended he be arrested once and for all after their single fateful interview in March of 1981. No other gangster, no other underworld figure, can make that claim. No other gangster or underworld figure had their brutal efforts aided and abetted by the very officials charged with protecting the rest of us from their actions.
As a fiction writer, of thrillers specifically, no one would believe this were possible or credible if I had offered this story as a plot synopsis. But in BETRAYAL (Forge, January 3), the book I co-authored with Bob Fitzpatrick—we give the straight story, chronicling his time in Boston and the frustration he faced in trying to end the madness once and for all.
Bob Fitzpatrick wasn’t just any agent either. Before coming to Boston, his major case experience included playing a key role in the takedown of Sam Bowers in the famed Mississippi Burning case, leading the investigation into the Martin Luther King assassination, and running ABSCAM in Miami. The Bureau had the right man for the job all right; they just wouldn’t let him finish it.
HANK PHILLIPPI RYAN: I was just waking up one morning last year when I heard the news that Whitey Bulger had been captured. I leaped up, ran downstairs, and pounded on the door of my husband’s bathroom. He was taking a shower. I couldn’t wait until he was finished to tell him—the news was that amazing!
Jon Land’s incredible access to inside information has all of us reporters salivating…and he’s here today to answer all your questions! (The ones he’s allowed to, at least!)
ROBERT FITZPATRICK spent twenty-plus 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. He played a key role in the famed "Mississippi Burning" investigation and recovered the rifle that was used in the MLK assassination that ultimately led to the arrest of James Earl Ray.
JON LAND is the critically acclaimed author of thirty novels, including the bestselling series featuring female Texas Ranger Caitlin Strong: Strong Enough to Die, Strong Justice, and Strong at the Break. He lives in Providence, Rhode Island and can be found on the Web at jonlandbooks.com.