Here’s to honest cops who made a difference

By Kevin Cullen

Globe Columnist / July 3, 2011

I was sitting in a courtroom the other day, looking at the back of Whitey Bulger’s head, thinking of Pat Greaney and Jack O’Donovan.

Greaney and O’Donovan were state cops, good ones, and both did much to make sure that Whitey will spend his final days in an orange jumpsuit.

But neither could bask in any of this.

Greaney died seven weeks ago. He was only 63 and believe me when I tell you, Pat Greaney was a great cop and a better person.

Jack O’Donovan sits in the VA hospital in Bedford, a prisoner of old age and Alzheimer’s. As a Massachusetts State Police commander, O’Donovan railed against the FBI’s coddling of Whitey Bulger and Stevie Flemmi, seeing them for the vicious sociopaths they were. He empowered State Police detectives to pursue Bulger, withstanding the predictable FBI backlash with a backbone thicker than any lie the Justice Department could throw at him.

Whitey was able to kill with impunity and rake in the millions that fueled his 16 years on the run because he was protected by a deeply corrupted FBI. His reign was assisted by other corrupt cops - some Boston police, at least one State Police officer, and who knows how many other bent law enforcement agents.

But that he even faced criminal charges, and will now die in custody of old age or just plain meanness, is because of a long line of honest cops, a fraternity that included Pat Greaney and Jack O’Donovan.

Bob Fitzpatrick, a good FBI agent who tried to save his agency from the rot that was Whitey Bulger, remembers teaching a class at the FBI Academy in Quantico in the late 1970s. O’D got up and shocked the class by claiming that FBI agent John Connolly and Connolly’s supervisor John Morris were in cahoots with the Irish mob in Boston.

It was shocking all right. And it was classic O’D. If you didn’t like the truth, too bad.

Fitzpatrick gradually came to believe O’Donovan. When he was made assistant special agent in charge in Boston, Fitzpatrick tried to close out Whitey as an informant, but he got the runaround from his own people.

There was a group of state cops - among them Bob Long, Jack O’Malley, Rick Fraelick, Arthur Bourque, Billy Powers - who knew O’D had their back when they went after Bulger and Flemmi in the 1980s.

There were US Drug Enforcement Administration agents like Steve Boeri and Al Reilly, backed by DEA bosses like Paul Brown and John Coleman, who were especially galled that Bulger’s defenders bogusly claimed he kept drugs out of South Boston. The DEA men knew the only drug dealers Whitey killed were the ones who didn’t pay him tribute. They were joined by three Boston cops - Frank Dewan, Ken Beers, Jimmy Carr - who were disgusted by Bulger’s protected status.

O’Donovan gave way to other commanders, like Charlie Henderson, who were just as determined to take down Bulger. They begat a new generation of state cops determined to get Whitey, none of them more determined than Tom Foley.

In the 1990s, Foley assembled a team of troopers - Tom Duffy, Steve Johnson, Mike Scanlan, John Tutungian, just to name a few - who would, with DEA agents like Dan Doherty, defy the FBI to bring charges against Whitey. Foley asked his old pal from Worcester, Pat Greaney, to join the team.

It was Foley who came up with the idea to jam up all the bookies who were paying rent to Whitey and Stevie. Take their money, Foley reasoned, and they’ll talk.

When Buddy Saccardo, another great state cop, found the bookies’ bank in a dive bar in Chelsea, it was a matter of time before Foley would round up the bookies. And when Foley and Greaney got Chico Krantz, the biggest bookie around, to flip, Whitey’s days were numbered.

Foley and Greaney were good at good cop-bad cop. After Foley seized $2 million of Chico’s money and unapologetically explained that Chico and his wife were going to prison, Greaney put his arm around Chico and said, in a way only he could, “Listen, pal. We’re doing you a favor. You wanna watch some TV?’’

Pat would listen to Chico’s stories for hours. Chico hated Whitey. Whitey bragged about killing bookies as he shook you down. Pay me or die. Besides, Chico said, he did nothing for you. He just took your money. In the end, Foley and Greaney appealed to Chico’s sense of honor as much as his desire for revenge.

Greaney was genuinely saddened when Chico died in 1998. Because Greaney had a sense of proportion that so many who protected Whitey lacked. His parents and the nuns at St. Peter’s taught him well. He knew the difference between a bookie and a killer.

There will be time to consider the shameful actions of corrupt cops. For now, remember those named above and others, honest cops who gave much of their careers, who risked their careers, chasing Whitey.

“After they grabbed Whitey, the first person I heard from was Bobby Long,’’ said Frank Dewan, the retired Boston cop. “We’re all pals. We call each other. We text each other. It’s a band of brothers.’’

Long still visits his old boss, Jack O’Donovan, at the VA. It kills him to see O’D so sick, so weak. O’Donovan is one of his heroes.

Long doesn’t know if O’Donovan’s mind, trapped as it is, will grasp it, but the next time he visits, he’s going to lean down, close to his ear and say, “They got him, O’D. They got him.’’

Maybe there will be somewhere in the recesses of that once brilliant mind a place where that will register. Maybe O’D will smile.

For now, we can all smile for Jack O’Donovan and Pat Greaney, two honest cops who made a difference.

Kevin Cullen is a Globe columnist. He can be reached at .

© Copyright 2011 Globe Newspaper Company.

/ Sluggs24 wrote:
Great article. Thanks Kevin.
7/2/2011 11:31 PM EDT
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/ MikeArnold wrote:
And heres to the southie pol who had the gall to say at a st. patricks day breakfast that"the bulgers are friends of our." This after one bulger raped, pillaged and plundered an entire community with impunity which has left it reeling still to this very day and another brother who played nero and did and said nothing except to use and abuse his power to thwart any attempt to bring the sociapathic, homicidal, malignancy of a brother to justice. May this pol be remembered for his words spoken on that day, but not in the same breath as the great law enforcement people, Kevin Cullen just wrote about. I second Sluggs24 words. ma
7/3/2011 3:18 AM EDT
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/ jkupie wrote:
Great article, Kevin -- these "honest cops who made a difference" are the people who should get our respect and be honored.
7/3/2011 4:37 AM EDT
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imnuyt wrote:
It's about time the good cops get the credit they deserve
7/3/2011 5:44 AM EDT
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/ annieluvrose wrote:
great column kevin...and while we are on the subject..the police do an outstanding job everyday in everyway..sure there are at times some issues....every profession has, medicine, everything..but most police are dedicated, brave people putting their hearts and souls into their jobs..and putting their lives on the line for the rest of us...let us thank them as often as we can..
7/3/2011 6:14 AM EDT
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/ JackDuggan wrote:
Yes, please, more stories like this one.
7/3/2011 6:46 AM EDT
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/ greenmt89 wrote:
A wonderful article honoring those that need to be recognized for all they do. And underlining the need to scorn those others who knew...and didnt act.
7/3/2011 7:03 AM EDT
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/ citizen4all wrote:
7/3/2011 8:02 AM EDT
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/ seen-it-all wrote:
Kevin, thanks for a great article all the cops you mentioned are the "real deal".
7/3/2011 9:06 AM EDT
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/ Baldbird wrote:
The FBI should be shut down.
7/3/2011 9:34 AM EDT
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/ jpag99 wrote:
kevin- great article, keep em' coming. The rot, whether they are retired, passed or still active need to be exposed as to what they enabled in this dou%$#bag.
7/3/2011 9:36 AM EDT
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/ ziggy703 wrote:
Whitey could not have thrived without Billy's help.
7/3/2011 9:36 AM EDT
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/ fairnsquare wrote:
It is comforting to learn that good apples like these do exist in the police departments.
7/3/2011 9:49 AM EDT
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/ ImaLittleteacup wrote:
Nice piece...and sort of a public service at this juncture. We need to keep all these guys in mind when the sewer lid finally comes off on Whitey's World.
7/3/2011 10:00 AM EDT
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Potlemac wrote:
Billy controlled the purse strings of the state police and had tremendous leverage and power in the state house. It must have taken great courage for the "staties" to go after Billy's brother. I applaud them!
7/3/2011 10:44 AM EDT
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/ krylon wrote:
Jack O'Donovan was a great cop who was paid back by the corrupt hacks by having his pension revoked in a line item in the budget.He went on to be the Chief of the Transit Police where he was falsely accussed of sexual harrassment by a female officer who rose to the top the old fashioned way she was given stolen civil service exams from an aide to Billy Bulger.
7/3/2011 10:52 AM EDT
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/ firer3 wrote:
These guys got up every morning and went to work trying to make a difference. They were stone walled at every turn. They never gave up, and now dead or alive we all know they made a difference. Sadly, the FBI still has no use for local law enforcement and "shares" nothing with us. We still get up every morning and try to make a difference. Cheers to those listed in the story......
7/3/2011 11:04 AM EDT
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/ hoopskills wrote:
Whitey and his crew were operating in the city for so long , that you knew that law enforcement had to know and even if you don't trust LE , not everyone can be on the take. There had to be honest hard working cops at all levels and agencies. It just goes to show the power and influence these guys had, to never have been takn down.
7/3/2011 11:28 AM EDT
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/ agingcynic wrote:
Before these guys were cops, they were men of honor. When was the last time you heard someone use the words "good character" to describe someone? Thanks for reminding us that there are a lot more Greaney's and O'Donovan's than John Connolly's out there in law enforcement.
7/3/2011 11:38 AM EDT
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/ Irishhoney79 wrote:
Great article. I am happy to see a positive article about cops. Agreed there are bad cops out there but the majority of people going into that line of work are doing it because they want to help. I LOVE MY COP! And my twin brother who is a cop as well. Both great, honest hard working guys who want to help.
7/3/2011 11:38 AM EDT
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/ joekleine wrote:
Nobody better to be writing about this case. Where's the book, Cullen?
7/3/2011 12:26 PM EDT
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/ maggieagnes wrote:
Great article,it is too easy to to get caught up in in the few thst tarnish the many!
God Bless our law enforcment!
7/3/2011 12:54 PM EDT
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/ BleedGreen4Ever wrote:
Honest cops perhaps they were but they couldn't be called good could they. It wasn't a state sercet that Whitey was into murder, drugs etc and they NEVER COULD CATCH HIM.
Yeah honest just not good cops, like so many others.
7/3/2011 2:26 PM EDT
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/ steeltoejoe wrote:
So, is the glass half empty or half full Kevin, which is it? Whitey represents what happens when cops go bad on a big level, but when cops go bad on a small level, as I believe most do, it's more of a death to society by a thousand paper cuts. I agree, celebrate the good cops, their number decreases everyday.
7/3/2011 3:50 PM EDT
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/ dannoone wrote:
This type of article should be printed much more often. Unfortunately there are so many examples on a daily basis of police abusing their authority it seems the term "honest cop" is an oxymoron. The public needs to know that there really are good, honest cops to look up to and respect and other honest cops need to know that they are not alone in their efforts.
7/3/2011 4:05 PM EDT
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/ clambelly wrote:
Thanks Kevin for this great story. Not coming from Boston and having to learn just how CORRUPT not Only Boston's Law Enforcement is, which is now nationwide because of a lot of the who's who from Boston's CORRUPT Justice Dept. We only learned about learned all of these EVIL-DOERS because of our nephews heinous role as an assassin for them, in the Christa Worthington slaughter. Shameful, isn't the word for this.
It was refreshing to read that there were a few HONEST and decent Law Enforcers in those days. To them, GOD holds a special place for each. My hats off to each of them.
Kevin Mulvey

7/3/2011 5:29 PM EDT
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