2001 Durham article
"Through the 1980s and '90s, Durham prosecuted or supervised every organized crime case in Connecticut. His team contributed critical evidence to the conviction in New York of Gambino crime family boss John Gotti. He conceived the strategy that put Connecticut's big cities a decade ahead of those in neighboring states in eradicating violent urban crack gangs a strategy that was later adopted elsewhere in the country. He demoted himself to assistant U.S. attorney about two years ago guilt, friends said, over spending too much time in Boston.
"John was given that thing in Boston, I am quite convinced, because he has a reputation for being above the fray, of being absolutely incorruptible and of absolutely calling things the way he sees them," said Ira Grudberg, a defense lawyer in New Haven. "Despite the fact that he can be a hard ass about certain things, I believe he is a real straight shooter."
Evidence produced during a federal criminal trial in the late 1990s suggested that a group of senior FBI agents, over a 30-year period, established a bizarre alliance with what was arguably New England's most ruthless criminal outfit.
For years, rumors flew in Boston that some criminals were committing murders and obstructing justice with FBI protection. It was suspected that men were wrongly convicted of crimes because the real criminals worked for the FBI.
The bureau dismissed the rumors as fantasy. Defense lawyers struggled futilely to prove them. Detectives from states as disparate as Connecticut, Oklahoma and Florida worked a series of murders connected to the jai alai industry and wound up with nothing but shared suspicion of the FBI and bitter knowledge that their cases dead-ended in Boston.
A specially selected task force of investigators from around the country, operating under his direction, now appears on the way to succeeding where earlier investigations failed. Collectively, allegations in the string of indictments Durham has obtained so far present an incredible picture: Two supposed FBI informants put law enforcement to work for them. There is evidence that agents set up men for gangland murders for as little as a diamond engagement ring and a few thousand dollars."
"Not surprisingly, the task force has met with resistance. It has come from FBI officials interested in protecting themselves and Massachusetts detectives afflicted by law enforcement's peculiar institutional jealousies. But longtime associates describe Durham as determined to push on, even if he is increasingly put off by what his task force is finding.
In the early 1990s, a scrap of paper containing Durham's home address was found in the wing of the Hartford jail holding a group of mobsters judged sufficiently ruthless to be denied bail. Durham supervised their indictments and was preparing their prosecution.
Word moved quickly through the law enforcement grapevine. Heavily armed officers converged on the home and Durham was greeted in his own driveway by a shotgun-carrying agent.
But there are limits to what even the most heavily starched agent can take, and a prosecutor who insists on separate checks for coffee sometimes needs to be brought up short.
When a foursome of detectives won Red Sox tickets at a law enforcement golf tournament, but couldn't make it to Fenway Park, they gave the seats to Durham, whose deepest flaw may be the Red Sox. This occurred at a time when Foxwoods Resort Casino was experiencing a run of bad press after a couple of gangsters were trying to insinuate themselves into casino operations.
Durham snatched the tickets, took his sons and spent the found money on overpriced sweatshirts.
Back at work, there was a letter in his box a forgery, it turned out, on filched stationery from a high casino executive. The casino was thrilled, the letter said, that the man who would supervise any casino case could use its complimentary seats. In the future, they were his for the asking.
The big laugh the detectives planned ended up as a frantic search through outgoing mail at the U.S. attorney's office. Durham had mailed a check and apologetic letter to the casino before anyone could spring the joke on him.
At the press conference, Durham finally couldn't avoid a question.
"Does the Department of Justice have the stomach to pursue this investigation to its conclusion?" one of the reporters asked, meaning will the government find some excuse to shut down the case to prevent further shredding the FBI's credibility?
It was the only question Durham answered.
"The government absolutely has the stomach," he said."