Mark L. Wolf

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Mark L. Wolf
Senior Judge of the United States District Court for the District of Massachusetts
Assumed office
January 1, 2013
Chief Judge of the United States District Court for the District of Massachusetts
In office
Preceded by William G. Young
Succeeded by Patti B. Saris
Judge of the United States District Court for the District of Massachusetts
In office
April 4, 1985 – January 1, 2013
Nominated by Ronald Reagan
Preceded by Seat established on July 10, 1984 by 98 Stat. 333
Succeeded by Indira Talwani
Personal details
Born (1946-11-23) November 23, 1946 (age 71)
Boston, Massachusetts, U.S.
Alma mater Yale University
Harvard Law School

Mark Lawrence Wolf (born November 23, 1946) is a Senior United States District Judge for the United States District Court for the District of Massachusetts.

President Ronald Reagan nominated Wolf on March 8, 1985, to a new seat created by 98 Stat. 333. He was confirmed by the United States Senate on April 3, 1985, and received his commission on April 4, 1985. Wolf served as chief judge for the District Court for the District of Massachusetts from 2006 to 2012. He took senior status on January 1, 2013.[1] He is also chair of the board for Boston-based NGO Integrity Initiatives International, an international anti-corruption advocacy group.[2] He has frequently spoken on the role of the judge in a democracy, human rights issues, and combatting corruption. He has spoken in Russia, China, Turkey, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Romania, Hungary, Egypt, Cyprus, and Panama.[3]

Early life and education[edit]

Wolf was born in Boston, Massachusetts. He received a B.A. from Yale University in 1968 and a J.D. from Harvard Law School in 1971. He was in the United States Army Reserve from 1969 to 1975. Wolf is Jewish.[4]


Wolf was in private practice in Washington, D.C., from 1971 to 1974. He was a Special Assistant to U.S. Deputy Attorney General Laurence Silberman from 1974 to 1975, and a Special Assistant to U.S. Attorney General Edward Levi from 1975 to 1977. He was again in private practice, this time in Boston, Massachusetts, from 1977 to 1981. He was appointed a Deputy U.S. Attorney and was chief of the Public Corruption Unit from 1981 to 1985. Wolf was a fellow at Harvard Law School from 1989 to 1990 and a lecturer at Boston College Law School in 1992.


'Whitey' Bulger, Stephen "the Rifleman" Flemmi, and FBI Corruption[edit]

In 1998, Wolf held a 10-month hearing on the F.B.I.’s failure to tell the United States attorney in Boston that Whitey Bulger and Stephen (the Rifleman) Flemmi, some of the most prominent mobsters in the US were their informants against organized crime. This resulted in the issuing of a 661-page opinion by Mark Wolf, chief judge of the Federal District Court in Massachusetts.[5]

This demonstrated that John Connolly Jr., the F.B.I. agent assigned to handle them, had protected Bulger, a 15-year informant, and Flemmi, a 25-year informant, as they committed murder and conspired with the Mafia, in exchange for leads about the Mafia. It was Connolly who tipped off Bulger that he was about to be indicted and sent him fleeing as a fugitive. Wolf testified against the F.B.I. agent at a 2002 trial in front of another judge. Connolly was sentenced to 10 years for racketeering, obstruction of justice and making false statements to investigators.

From his investigation, Wolf also concluded that the government couldn’t use crucial evidence against Flemmi that it had gathered through wiretaps against other mobsters because it had granted him partial immunity. The United States Court of Appeals for the First Circuit, in Boston, overturned that part of the judge’s ruling, holding that only prosecutors and not the F.B.I. could grant immunity.

The Wolf opinion is famous in the world of criminal justice. It led to high-profile hearings in Congress on “The F.B.I.’s Use of Murderers as Informants.”[6][7]

United States of America v. Salvatore F. DiMasi and Richard W. McDonough[edit]

According to The Boston Globe, "DiMasi and three of his close friends and associates are the subjects of the Ethics Commission probe and other investigations relating to large payments the associates received from Cognos ULC..." an IBM owned company based in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, with a United States headquarters in Burlington, Massachusetts. The Globe also said that "One of the associates, Richard Vitale, DiMasi's accountant, also accepted payments from ticket brokers who were seeking to gut state antiscalping laws." The contracts in question, a $4.5 million contract for the State Board of Education and a $13 million contract for the State Information Technology division, were rescinded after the alleged Ethics violations came to light. IBM, which did not own Cognos at the time of the alleged payoffs, has refunded all paid monies. On December 17, 2008, the Boston Globe confirmed a Federal Grand Jury probe had been launched investigating the charges.On September 9, 2011, DiMasi was sentenced to eight years in federal prison by U.S. District Court Judge Mark Lawrence Wolf and ordered to pay a fine of $65,000.[8]

Kosilek v. Spencer[edit]

Wolf ordered that the Massachusetts Department of Corrections must provide Michelle Kosilek (a pre-operative transsexual who is imprisoned for the murder of Kosilek's wife) with sex reassignment surgery, which the DOC's medical personnel have determined is medically necessary, as a treatment in connection to Kosilek's gender dysphoria.[9][10] In his ruling, Wolf wrote, "[The] fact that sex reassignment surgery is for some people medically necessary has recently become more widely recognized."

Outside Activities[edit]

Integrity Initiatives International[edit]

In 2014, Judge Mark Wolf published a Brookings Institution article and Washington Post Op-Ed piece advocating for the creation of an International Anti-Corruption Court to combat grand corruption. In 2016, Judge Mark Wolf, Justice Richard Goldstone, and others created Integrity Initiatives International (“III”). Judge Mark Wolf is Chair of the Board of Directors of III, which is based in Boston. The organization’s main goals are listed as: "institutionalizing the effort to create an International Anti-Corruption Court (IACC), advocating for the development and enforcement of other measures to punish and deter corrupt leaders, and forging a network of young people dedicated to fighting grand corruption in their own countries and around the world."[11]

Harvard Kennedy School[edit]


Judge Mark Wolf teaches a course at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government titled "Combatting Corruption Internationally." The course examines "the causes and consequences of grand corruption – the abuse of public office for personal profit by a nation's leaders – and means of combatting it."[12]

Carr Center for Human Rights[edit]

Judge Mark Wolf is a Senior Fellow at the Harvard University Carr Center for Human Rights.[13]

Council on Foreign Relations[edit]

Judge Mark Wolf is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations.[14]

Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars[edit]

Judge Mark Wolf is a Non-Resident Fellow of the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars.[15]    


  1. ^ Valencia, Milton J. (October 16, 2012). "Mark Wolf to step down as chief US judge: But will continue in senior status". Boston Globe. Retrieved 27 May 2014. 
  2. ^ "The Honorable Mark L. Wolf". Integrity Initiatives International. 
  3. ^ "The Honorable Mark L. Wolf". Integrity Initiatives International. 
  4. ^ The Albert Schweitzer Fellowship – More Information About Mark L. Wolf Archived 2012-09-07 at the Wayback Machine.. Retrieved October 8, 2012.
  5. ^ Wolf, Mark. "UNITED STATES OF AMERICA v. FRANCIS P. SALEMME, et al". 
  6. ^ "The Judge Who Cracked the Bulger Case". New York Times. Retrieved June 28, 2011. 
  7. ^ "Everything Secret Degenerates: The FBI use of murderers as informants: Chronology, internal version, 2004" (PDF). US Congress Printing Office. 
  8. ^ "USA V. DIMASI ET AL" (PDF). 
  9. ^ "Kosilek v. Spencer, September 4, 2012" (PDF). U.S. District Court of Massachusetts. Retrieved 9 November 2012. 
  10. ^ Valencia, Milton J. (September 4, 2012). "Federal judge rules state must provide sex reassignment surgery for Michelle Kosilek, who was convicted as a man of murdering his wife". Boston Globe. Retrieved November 9, 2012. 
  11. ^ "Background and Mission". Integrity Initiatives International. 
  12. ^ "DPI-540M: Combatting Corruption Internationally". Harvard Kennedy School. 
  13. ^ "Judge Mark Wolf". Harvard Kennedy School Carr Center for Human Rights. 
  14. ^ "Membership Roster". Council on Foreign Relations. 
  15. ^ "The Honorable Mark L. Wolf". Wilson Center. 


Legal offices
Preceded by
new seat
Judge of the United States District Court for the District of Massachusetts
Succeeded by
Indira Talwani
Preceded by
William G. Young
Chief Judge of the United States District Court for the District of Massachusetts
Succeeded by
Patti B. Saris