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Same Old FBI Story


The FBI has once again put its traditional fantastic incompetence on display for all the world to see. According to a Boston Associated Press story run October 14 in The Bangor (Maine) Daily News, the incredible ineptitude of this sham of a law enforcement agency led to one of its informants getting his teeth smashed in.

It seems that John Coyne, an inmate in a Massachusetts state prison, got wind that some of his fellow inmates were planning to celebrate their future release from prison with an armored car heist. Coyne sent the information along to the FBI, which then recruited Coyne to be its jailhouse snitch.

The Bureau instructed Coyne to write two letters. In one letter, to be routed through the FBI, Coyne was to offer his services to the mastermind of the heist. In the other letter Coyne was to formalize his nascent relationship with the FBI by acknowledging his role as an informant.

There was only one slight problem. The habitually bungling and intellectually challenged agency sent both of Coyne’s letters to the heist plotters. Needless to say, word of Coyne’s generous offer of service to law enforcement spread through the state’s prison system, and soon Coyne found himself on the receiving end of some rather harsh amateur dental work.

What is more, it appears the FBI, despite promises to keep Coyne out of harm’s way, did not have Coyne moved after learning of its mistake, thus enabling Coyne’s newfound enemies to get at him. Coyne was eventually moved to a New Hampshire prison, but only after his mouth was involuntarily rearranged.

This little jewel, pulled off in all its glory by the Boston FBI office, comes on the heels of another stellar performance by the New England flagship office in its handling of the James “Whitey” Bulger case, in which the agency used Bulger as an informant while protecting him prosecution for his ongoing criminal activities. When the curtain started to fall on that sweet deal, Bulger skipped town, and he’s still on the lam.

There is no end to tales of FBI incompetence. Sixty Minutes once did a story on a sweet innocent Italian woman who, upon the death of her husband, a fine, upstanding New Jersey businessman, found tens of thousands of dollars in cash in the attic of her home. She called one of her late husband’s business associated in Florida. What should I do with the money, she asked. Send it to me, the associate said. I will invest it for you.

Later on the sweet innocent widow decided she needed the money back, but her late husband’s business associate was not interested in giving it back. Meanwhile the FBI was tapping the business associate’s telephone in one of its rare but invariably much ballyhooed investigations of organized crime. FBI agents listened in as the widow’s informal investment banker made arrangements to deal with the widow’s unreasonable demands for the return of her money. What size suit are you going to wear, the associate asked the man commissioned to deal with the problem. I was thinking about a 38, he said. Maybe a 44. The FBI agents working the organized crime investigation heard this, and they later told 60 Minutes they had no idea why the two men were discussing suit sizes. They could have asked any reasonably intelligent sixth grader.

LAWRENCE REICHARD is a freelance writer in Orland, Maine. His father’s teaching career was temporarily derailed and his family thrown into financial hardship by FBI efforts to paint his father red. He can be reached at:




Lawrence Reichard lives in Belfast, Maine, and can be reached at

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