FOX UNDERCOVER – Mass. State Police Trooper Nunzio Orlando helped make cases against the biggest mobsters in Massachusetts until he was transferred out of the organized crime unit, but now he finds himself at the center of a different kind of courtroom scrutiny as the trooper who penned an anonymous letter accusing his boss of protecting a key witness against former Southie crime boss James J. "Whitey" Bulger.
The courtroom fight over the alleged Mass. State Police cover-up is also exposing turmoil within the state police's elite organized crime unit, turmoil that Bulger's defense team is now trying to use to delay the start of the trial.
Orlando worked in the organized crime unit for more than 15 years. The anonymous letter, which FOX 25 has confirmed was written by him, says his former boss, Lt. Steve Johnson, essentially allowed convicted hit man John Martorano to commit more crimes since his release from prison.
But federal prosecutors say that's not true, calling Orlando a disgruntled trooper making false accusations.
Martorano is going to be a star witness against his former associate, James J. "Whitey" Bulger, and in return he was able to serve a relatively short prison sentence despite admitting to 20 murders. He has already testified against Bulger associates.
But it was Martorano's alleged criminal activity after his release that is now the subject of a flurry of briefings and arguments in U.S. District Court in Boston.
In an anonymous letter that was traced back to Trooper Orlando, he accused Johnson, the state police organized crime supervisor, of protecting Martorano from investigation, presumably to keep intact his credibility as a witness.
Prosecutors say in court papers that that allegation was "...thoroughly debunked after an extensive investigation."
"The anonymous letter writer, who praised himself profusely in the letter, turned out to be a disgruntled MSP trooper who falsely accused another MSP trooper of ignoring the allegations against Martorano," prosecutors write in court papers.
Orlando's attorney says his client stands by his story 100 percent, and that his client is in fact disgruntled because state police ignored his concerns.
From recently convicted mob captain and FBI informant Mark Rossetti to the arrest of former New England crime boss Peter Limone, Orlando has been at the center of the biggest organized crime cases in recent years.
But things turned sour in the organized crime unit last year. He and another trooper were moved out of the unit after Orlando wrote the anonymous letter to the U.S. Attorney's Office. Now Orlando is on the list of defense witnesses.
State police will not comment on the internal dispute that's now threatening to delay Bulger's trial, a dispute the defense is saying will be part of its case.