The Chicago Syndicate: Steven Flemmi

Showing posts with label Steven Flemmi. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Steven Flemmi. Show all posts

Thursday, September 13, 2018

Cadillac Frank Salemme, Former Mafia Don, Faces Life Sentence for 1993 Murder of Steven DiSarro

Twenty-five years after South Boston nightclub owner Steven DiSarro was strangled and buried in an unmarked grave, a former Mafia don and a local plumber are scheduled to be sentenced Thursday for the slaying.

Former New England Mafia boss Francis “Cadillac Frank” Salemme, 85, and Paul M. Weadick, 63, face mandatory life sentences for killing DiSarro in 1993 to prevent him from cooperating in a federal investigation targeting the mobster and his son.

After the pair were convicted in June, DiSarro’s son, Nick, said he was grateful to the jury for giving his family justice after so many years. “This is the end of such a long road,” he said. “To close this book is just a really important step for our family.”

The convictions followed a five-week trial in US District Court in Boston that was a flashback to a bygone era, when the Italian La Cosa Nostra and James “Whitey” Bulger’s Irish mob were the region’s most feared criminal groups.

DiSarro was a businessman who bought the Channel, a now defunct rock ‘n’ roll club on Necco Street, in the early 1990s. Salemme and his son had a hidden interest in the club and were being targeted by federal and state investigators at the time.

On May 10, 1993, DiSarro, a 43-year-old father of five, disappeared after his wife saw him climb into an SUV outside their Westwood home. His whereabouts were a mystery until the FBI found his remains two years ago, buried behind an old mill in Providence.

Salemme, who became a government witness himself six years after the killing of DiSarro, was in the federal witness protection program when DiSarro’s hidden grave was discovered in 2016, leading to his arrest.

The government’s star witness during the trial was Stephen “The Rifleman” Flemmi, who is serving a life sentence for 10 murders. He testified that he dropped by Salemme’s Sharon home on May 10, 1993, and saw Salemme’s son, Frank, strangling DiSarro while Weadick held his legs and Salemme looked on.

Salemme’s son died in 1995.

Flemmi said Salemme told him that he knew DiSarro had been approached by federal agents and feared he would cooperate in a federal investigation targeting him and his son.

Two former Rhode Island mobsters, brothers Robert DeLuca and Joseph DeLuca, testified that they helped bury DiSarro’s body after Salemme personally delivered it to Providence. Last month, Robert DeLuca was sentenced to 5½ years in prison for lying to investigators about DiSarro’s murder when he initially began cooperating with authorities in 2011. He only revealed details of the crime after a drug dealer led authorities to DiSarro’s remains.

Salemme is one of Boston’s last old-school mobsters, a criminal turned federal witness whose many former associates are now dead or in prison.

He survived the gang wars of the 1960s — a decade during which he admittedly killed eight people and was convicted of maiming an Everett lawyer by blowing up his car.

He spent nearly 16 years in prison for that attempted murder and became a “made man” after his release in 1988. The following year, he was shot in the chest and leg outside a Saugus pancake house by a renegade mob faction and survived to become boss of the New England Patriarca crime family.

In 1995, Salemme was indicted in a sweeping federal racketeering case, along with Bulger, Flemmi, and others. Four years later, after learning that Bulger and Flemmi were longtime FBI informants, Salemme began cooperating with the government and helped send retired FBI agent John J. Connolly Jr. to prison.

He was admitted to the federal witness protection program and was living in Atlanta as Richard Parker when his past came back to haunt him. The discovery of DiSarro’s hidden grave in 2016 led to Salemme’s arrest for murder.

Thanks to Shelley Murphy.

Friday, June 22, 2018

"Cadillac Frank" Francis Salemme and Paul Weadick Found Guilty in Mob Murder Trial

Former New England Mafia boss Francis “Cadillac Frank” Salemme was found guilty Friday, along with an associate, of killing a South Boston nightclub owner 25 years ago to prevent him from cooperating with investigators targeting Salemme and his son.

The verdict signified long-awaited justice for the family of Steven DiSarro, a 43-year-old father of five who disappeared in 1993, his whereabouts a mystery until the FBI found his remains two years ago, buried behind an old mill in Providence.

Salemme, 84, who became a government witness himself six years after killing DiSarro and was in federal witness protection until his 2016 arrest, will probably spend the rest of his life in prison.

Following a five-week trial in US District Court in Boston and four days of deliberations, a jury of eight women and four men convicted Salemme and Paul Weadick, 63, of Burlington, of murdering DiSarro to prevent him from becoming a federal witness. The men face a maximum penalty of life in prison.

Salemme and his late son were business partners with DiSarro in the Channel nightclub, which was located on Necco Street and was demolished years ago.

Judge Allison Burroughs set sentencing for Sept. 13.

DiSarro’s daughter, Colby, cried as the verdict came down around 3 p.m. Friday, and his son, Michael, wiped tears from his eyes.

Salemme, meanwhile, let out a huge sigh when the verdict came down and appeared stunned as he remained standing for a long time in a gray suit and blue tie, taking his seat only after his lawyer told him to.

The once-feared gangster, who had smiled at his attorney when he came into the courtroom to hear the verdict, left court with his head down without glancing at the spectators’ gallery. Weadick shook hands with his attorney before he was escorted out as well. Both men have been in custody since they were arrested in 2016.

Weadick’s lawyer declined to comment outside court Friday.

An attorney for Salemme, Steven Boozang, told reporters that his client, who turns 85 next month, “feels worse for Paul Weadick than he does for himself. He’s just not a self-absorbed guy.”

Boozang also took aim at the government’s star witness, another aging gangster named Stephen “The Rifleman” Flemmi, who’s serving life in prison for 10 murders and who testified that he witnessed Salemme’s son choking DiSarro while Weadick held his legs up and Salemme looked on. Salemme’s son died in 1995.

After the verdict, Boozang called Flemmi an “absolute liar” and said the defense was confronted with “a tough set of facts” but “thought we had overcome them.”

Asked about Salemme’s relatively stoic demeanor in court, Boozang said, “He’s done a lot of time. He was in the gangland wars, so I don’t think much phases him or shocks him. He was hopeful and optimistic” for an acquittal. Boozang said he expects his client to be placed in the general prison population and added that “nobody will bother him. . . . Inside, he’s a pretty decent human being and warm, aside from what he was years ago.”

DiSarro’s family had no immediate comment after the verdict but released a statement on Tuesday as the jury began deliberating.

“The last 25 years have been heartbreaking for us due to the sudden loss of a loved one, coupled with the fact that we were left without any answers as to what happened,” the DiSarro family had said Tuesday.
“Nothing about the circumstances of our father, brother, uncle and husband’s disappearance have been typical. We have been living for years with the idea that a man who was deeply loved by his family, never returned home to those he loved and we never knew why.
“The answers were hidden deep inside a dark, and often violent underworld that we thankfully have never had access to. Of course there have been rumors, speculations, and opinions over the years, but what became forgotten amongst it all is the man that existed and the family and life that he built.”

Thanks to Shelley Murphy and Travis Anderson.

James "Whitey" Bulger, Notorious Boston Mobster, is Arrested #OnThisDay in 2011

On this day in 2011, after 16 years on the run from law enforcement, James “Whitey” Bulger, a violent Boston mob boss wanted for 19 murders, is arrested in Santa Monica, California. The 81-year-old Bulger, one of the FBI’s “Ten Most Wanted” fugitives, was arrested with his longtime companion, 60-year-old Catherine Greig, who fled Massachusetts with the gangster in late 1994, shortly before he was to be indicted on federal criminal charges. At the time of his 2011 arrest, there was a $2 million reward for information leading to Bulger’s capture, the largest amount ever offered by the agency for a domestic fugitive.

Born in Massachusetts in 1929 and raised in a South Boston housing project, Bulger, who earned his nickname as a child for his light blond hair, served time in federal prison in the 1950s and early 1960s for bank robbery. Afterward, he returned to Boston, where he eventually built an organized-crime empire with partner Stephen Flemmi. At the time the two men were involved with drug trafficking, extortion, murder and other illegal activities, they were serving, since the mid-1970s, as FBI informants, providing information about rival mobsters in return from protection from prosecution.

After a rogue FBI agent tipped off Bulger that he would soon be arrested on racketeering charges, Bulger disappeared in December 1994. (John Connolly, the agent who tipped off Bulger, was later convicted on charges of racketeering, obstruction of justice and second-degree murder.) Despite an international manhunt, Bulger eluded authorities for over a decade and a half. Then, on June 20, 2011, the FBI employed a new tactic by airing a public service announcement focused on Greig, Bulger’s companion. The ad, which aired in cities across the U.S. where the mobster was thought to have once lived or have contacts, was aimed at female viewers who might have seen Greig, who underwent a variety of cosmetic surgeries, at a beauty parlor or doctor’s office. Based on one of the tips they received, FBI agents staked out Bulger and Greig, then going by the names Charles and Carol Gasko, and arrested them without incident at the modest, two-bedroom Southern California apartment building they had long called home.

Law enforcement officials found weapons, fake identification and more than $800,000 stashed in Bulger’s apartment. He later revealed to them that during his years on the lam he had traveled frequently to such places as Boston, Mexico and Las Vegas, armed and sometimes in disguise.

After their arrest, Bulger and Greig were returned to Boston. In June 2012, as part of a plea agreement, Greig was sentenced to eight years in prison for helping Bulger remain in hiding. The following summer, Bulger went on trial, and on August 12, 2013, he was convicted in a federal court in Boston of 31 of the 32 counts against him, including participating in 11 murders and other criminal acts.

On November 14, 2013, a federal judge sentenced Bulger to two life terms in prison plus five years.

Thursday, August 11, 2016

No Bail for Mob Boss Francis “Cadillac Frank” Salemme

He left his life as a Mafia don decades ago, disappeared into the federal witness protection program, and was living quietly in Atlanta as Richard Parker, an unassuming octogenarian who loved to read and exercise.But Francis “Cadillac Frank” Salemme’s past caught up with him Wednesday, when he was arrested at a Connecticut hotel and escorted to a Boston courthouse in handcuffs to face a new charge for an old crime: the 1993 murder of a witness during a federal investigation.

It was deja vu for Salemme, a contemporary of James “Whitey” Bulger’s who will turn 83 this month. Arriving in court, he smiled slightly when he spotted Fred Wyshak, the veteran prosecutor who helped send him to prison twice before, seated at the prosecution table and quipped, “Hey, Fred, fancy seeing you here!”

His casual demeanor belied the severity of the charge, which allows prosecutors to seek the death penalty.

Salemme, who served as boss of the New England Mafia in the 1990s, is charged with the May 10, 1993, slaying of South Boston nightclub manager Steven A. DiSarro, whose remains were discovered in March by investigators acting on a tip. DiSarro was buried in a Providence lot owned by a man facing federal drug charges.

Salemme denies he killed DiSarro and “is ready to fight this case tooth and nail,” Salemme’s attorney, Steven Boozang, said after the court hearing. “This is old stuff that has been dredged up from the past, but he’ll face it head-on as he always has.”

The murder in question stretches back more than two decades, to a time when the mob in New England was being battered by federal prosecutions. DiSarro was 43 when he vanished 23 years ago and was presumed murdered.

The recent discovery of his remains let his family finally lay him to rest. “We buried him this weekend and had a small ceremony,” DiSarro’s son, Nick, said during a brief telephone interview Wednesday. “I am really glad that there is progress and they are moving forward. I’m looking forward to finding out the details.”

The magistrate judge granted a request by the prosecution to keep an FBI affidavit filed in support of Salemme’s arrest under seal.

While Salemme is charged with murdering a witness, authorities have not disclosed whether DiSarro was cooperating with authorities when he vanished, or whether investigators were planning to call him as a witness during a federal investigation that was underway in 1993 against Salemme and his son, Frank.

DiSarro had acquired The Channel, a now-defunct nightclub, between 1990 and 1991 and Salemme and his son had a hidden interest in the club, according to court filings by the government in prior cases.

The new charge against Salemme marks the first time anyone has been charged with DiSarro’s murder. However, Salemme pleaded guilty in 2008 to lying and obstruction of justice for denying any knowledge about DiSarro’s death and was sentenced to five years in prison.

Salemme also spent 15 years in prison for attempting to kill an Everett lawyer in 1968 by planting dynamite in his car. The lawyer lost a leg in the explosion.

After his release, Salemme was being groomed to take over as mob boss, igniting a war with a renegade faction. He survived after being shot by rival gangsters outside a Saugus pancake house in 1989 and was indicted on federal racketeering charges in 1995 along with others, including Bulger, gangster Stephen “The Rifleman” Flemmi, and Rhode Island mobster Robert “Bobby” DeLuca.

In 1999, after learning that Bulger and Flemmi were longtime FBI informants, Salemme agreed to cooperate with authorities against the pair and their handler, retired FBI agent John J. Connolly Jr. In exchange he served only eight years in prison and was admitted to the federal witness protection program.

In 2003, Flemmi began cooperating with authorities and claimed he walked in on the murder of DiSarro at Salemme’s estranged wife’s home in 1993, according to a US Drug Enforcement Administration report filed in federal court in Boston. He claimed that Salemme’s son, Frank, was strangling DiSarro, while Salemme, his brother John Salemme, and another man, Paul Weadick, watched.


Flemmi said Salemme was concerned about DiSarro’s friendship with a man who was cooperating in the federal investigation targeting Salemme and his son. He also told investigators that Salemme later told him DeLuca was present when they buried DiSarro.

Salemme’s son Frank died in 1995.

Salemme was kicked out of the witness protection program in 2004 when he was charged with lying about DiSarro’s killing but was allowed back into the program in 2009 after finishing his sentence.

Court filings indicated that Salemme was using the name Richard Parker while in Georgia.

He was living “a healthy lifestyle,” exercised as much as possible, and was a voracious reader, Boozang said.“He’s a guy that learned his lesson,” Boozang said. “He paid his debt to society. For 21 years he hasn’t been in trouble.”But, Nick DiSarro said, “None of that takes away the fact that he murdered someone.”

Dressed in a short-sleeved navy blue polo shirt and olive green khakis when he appeared in court Wednesday, the gray haired former Mafia don was slightly tanned and looked fit and trim. When told to rise, he took a few moments to get to his feet.

US Magistrate Judge Donald L. Cabell ordered Salemme held without bail pending the resolution of the case. The prosecutor said Salemme had a history of fleeing to avoid charges and recently fled Atlanta, where he was in the witness protection program, and was captured in Connecticut.

Salemme did not challenge the government’s request to hold him without bail. However, Boozang insisted that Salemme was not in hiding, but rather, “He was on his way back to answer any charges that might have been coming forth.”

Thanks to Shelley Murphy.

Monday, September 21, 2015

Kevin Weeks Calls Whitey Bulger #BlackMass Movie Bogus

From 1978-1994, Kevin Weeks served as a member of the Winter Hill Gang, and a close friend, confidant, and henchman to Whitey Bulger. And he says Johnny Depp’s film is bogus.

“We really did kill those people,” says Kevin Weeks, the former mobster and right-hand man to notorious crime boss Whitey Bulger. “But the movie is a fantasy.”

The film that has Weeks riled up is Black Mass. Directed by Scott Cooper, it stars Johnny Depp as Winter Hill Gang leader James “Whitey” Bulger, and depicts the menacing Irishman’s rise up the criminal ranks from low-level gangster to the most feared criminal in not just his native South Boston, but the state of Massachusetts. Whitey was able to rise so far so fast thanks to his special relationship with the FBI, especially agent John Connolly (Joel Edgerton)—an old neighborhood friend on Whitey’s payroll who’d funnel him information in exchange for intel on the local Italian mafia, led by Gennaro Angiulo. Bulger was eventually arrested in 2011 at an apartment complex in Santa Monica, California, after being on the run for 17 years, and was indicted for 19 murders. He was convicted of 11 of those murders, and is serving two consecutive life sentences behind bars. Interestingly enough, while Whitey’s reign of terror was going on, his brother Billy (Benedict Cumberbatch) was the most powerful politician in the state, serving as president of the Massachusetts State Senate.

Weeks, who’s portrayed in the film by Friday Night Lights’ Jesse Plemons, started out in 1976 as a bouncer at Whitey’s local haunt Triple O’s, and by 1978 he was serving as Whitey’s driver and personal muscle. He officially joined the Winter Hill Gang full-time in 1982, and, along with Johnny Martorano and Stephen Flemmi, served as one of Whitey’s devoted henchmen. In 1999, Weeks was arrested on a 29-count indictment in a RICO case. In exchange for his damning grand testimony against Whitey, Weeks received a 5-year prison sentence. He was released in 2004, and has since penned three books, including the recent Hunted Down: The FBI's Pursuit and Capture of Whitey Bulger, which hit shelves on July 22.

And to say that Weeks is unhappy with the film would be a major understatement. “My character looks like a knuckle-dragging moron,” says Weeks. “I look like I have Down syndrome.”

According to Weeks, the filmmakers behind Black Mass “didn’t consult with anyone within the inner circle about the movie,” and as a result, there are major discrepancies between what really happened and what happens onscreen.

The Daily Beast spoke with Weeks—who saw the film opening night—who opened up about what Black Mass got right and wrong, the murders they committed, and a foiled attempt to assassinate Boston Herald journalist Howie Carr.

You saw Black Mass on Friday night. What did you think of it?

Very disappointing. The only resemblance to Whitey’s character was the hairline. The funny thing is, Whitey’s look didn’t really change at all, just his clothes. It’s like we were stuck in a time warp. And the mannerisms—the way that Whitey talked to us—he never swore at us. In all the years I was with that man, he never swore at me once. We never yelled at each other. The opening scene of me getting beaten up? That never happened. They also have me talking to a black FBI agent in the beginning of the film, but I wouldn’t talk to the FBI. I spoke to a DEA agent, Dan Doherty. And my cooperation came after Johnny Martorano started cooperating. Nothing in the film is chronological, really.

The biggest chronological discrepancy in the film was the death of Bulger’s son, which took place in 1973. The film makes it seem like his boy died later than that in order to position it as his motivation for upping his killing and crime activity.

They made it seem like that was the reason why. I wasn’t there for the death of his son—that happened before my time—but I was there for the death of his mother, which he took pretty bad. But really, Whitey was violent long before his son’s death. And the way the film portrays people like Stephen Flemmi and myself? We come across looking like a step away from Down syndrome, really. We’re portrayed as these low-life thugs that are borderline morons who haven’t washed for weeks. For all the money we were makin’, we came off like paupers. We dressed a certain way during the day, but at night we were wearing $2,700 Louis suits. There’s a scene early on in the film where Johnny Martorano’s character is at the bar Triple O’s, and is reaching into a peanut bowl, licking his fingers, and sticking them back into the bowl, and Whitey starts mocking him for it. First of all, Johnny Martorano was never in Triple O’s. Second, if Whitey ever started talking to Johnny like that—berating him—the movie would be over because Johnny would’ve shot him right then. As bad as Whitey was, Johnny was just as capable—if not more.

Right. Johnny was known as “The Basin Street Butcher.”

He was a violent killer. There’s another scene later on where Whitey is yelling at Stevie [Flemmi] in the car outside the police station where they’re waiting to pick up Deborah Hussey. The language is all wrong. We never really cursed like that unless we were grabbing somebody, and Whitey never would’ve berated Stevie, either. Stevie was a psychopath. Stevie would’ve killed him. And Stevie is portrayed as a very sympathetic character.

In the scene you mention, they pick up Hussey, take her to a house, and Whitey strangles her to death.

Right. And I’m already in the house—they show me in the background. The true story is that me and Jimmy went to that house and we were waiting for Stevie. That house was for sale, and we already had two bodies buried downstairs. When I get to the house with Jimmy, he says, “Oh, we’re waiting for Stevie and Deborah. Stevie might buy the place.” I go and use the bathroom upstairs, and as soon as I come down the stairs, I see Stevie and Deborah come in, and I hear boom-boom. I walk in and see that Jimmy had strangled her. I thought she was dead, but then Stevie put his head on her chest, said she was still alive, and he put a clothesline rope around her neck, put a stick in it and twisted. And then after, Stevie dragged her body downstairs and pulled her teeth out. So Stevie wasn’t all sympathetic, mourning, and sorrowful like he is in the movie. Stevie enjoyed murder.

Back to Johnny Depp’s performance as Whitey. The film made Whitey seem—relatively speaking—like a sympathetic character. He’s portrayed as a very loving family man.

He had a son, Douglas, and he did die of Reye’s syndrome, but Jimmy wasn’t this doting father. Lindsey [Cyr] lived in Quincy, and he used to preach to me all the time, “If you’re gonna be a criminal, you shouldn’t have kids. They’re a liability.” And that scene at the dinner table between Jimmy and Douglas where he tells his son, “Punch them when the other kid isn’t looking,” he didn’t talk to kids like that. He was my older son’s godfather and I remember the way he’d talk to my son. He just talked to him like he was a young kid. Oh, you playing baseball? Normal conversation. He didn’t bring business back to the house. So his portrayal of him, outside of the makeup, I couldn’t believe it. The hairline was fine but the teeth were terrible, too. Jimmy had one front tooth and a nerve in it had died so it was one shade less than white—a little yellow, ya know. And his girlfriend, Cathy [Greig], was a hygienist, so his teeth were in great shape except for that one tooth.

Whitey looks vampiric in the film—like a ghoul.

He really does. There’s one scene I have a really big problem with, and that’s a scene down in Miami. Now, I was never down in Miami and they never met Johnny [Martorano] down in Miami. They met Johnny out in a hotel by La Guardia Airport, and it was just Jimmy, Stevie, and Johnny who discussed the John Callahan murder, which came after Roger Wheeler. In the scene in the film, they have me down in Miami and we’re all sitting there. Callahan goes to give Jimmy a big of money and Jimmy says, “Give that to Kevin.” And I take it. And then Stevie supposedly propositions Brian Halloran to kill Roger Wheeler, and Jimmy notices Halloran’s demeanor and says, “Kevin, give him the bag with the $20,000 in it, and forget what you heard here.” That never happened. In fact, I didn’t know about Roger Wheeler’s death until the Callahan murder. So just by having me be there giving Halloran the money, they have involved me in a conspiracy to kill Roger Wheeler. I’ve been libeled. I wasn’t involved in that at all, so I have a big problem with that. I just don’t know where they get the right to put events in there that did not happen.

What about the turf war between the Winter Hill Gang and the Angiulo crime family?

Well, another scene in the beginning where Jimmy pulls up, I get in the car, then we drive somewhere and beat up a guy, and his name is “Joey Angiulo,” and he’s identified as Jerry Angiulo’s nephew. Just by saying that name, “Angiulo,” that never would’ve happened because if it did, there would have been a war. If it did, to make peace, Jerry Angiulo would’ve said, “Kill Kevin, and it’s over.” That scene did happen to another fellow, Paul Giaimo, and the story was that he’d slapped Whitey’s niece.  We got him in the car, drove up to M Street Park, proceeded to give him a beating, then drove him up to Cassidy’s and left the body out front so all his friends could see. Then we found out later on that we beat up the wrong person. But by making up this name and saying “Angiulo” and the mafia, it was so unrealistic. There would have been bodies in the streets if that happened.

As far as the FBI is concerned, the film seemed to really let the Bureau off the hook. John Connolly and John Morris are the only FBI agents in the film who seem to know about Whitey’s double-dealing, and they’re portrayed as sympathetic pawns, to a degree.

The FBI were the ones that enabled Jimmy and Stevie to survive. There’s a scene early on in the film where Connolly and Jimmy make this “alliance,” and then Jimmy goes back and tells Stevie about how they’re going to use the FBI against the mafia. That didn’t happen because Stevie had already been an important since 1965. In 1967, Flemmi and Frank Salemme blew up Joe Barboza’s attorney, John Fitzgerald, and then Stevie and Frankie went on the run, with Frankie going down to New York and Stevie going up to Montreal. Stevie comes back to Boston in 1974, and then the following year, Jimmy becomes an informant. And Connolly was on the payroll. We considered Connolly a criminal, too. He was our informant, and that’s how it was portrayed to all of us—that we were paying for his information. That’s why no one suspected that Jim Bulger was informing on us, because every time we made a score we’d put money aside to pay our contacts in law enforcement, and we were getting good information. Jimmy used to tell me, “I can call any one of six FBI agents and they’ll come to me and jump in this car with a machine gun and go on a hit.” One FBI agent actually gave us 17 kilos of C-4 which we were going to use to blow up a reporter, Howie Carr. Howie thought it was a made-up story, until he found out it was the truth.

Why did Bulger want to assassinate Howie Carr?

He was just a vicious bastard. He was attacking everybody—innocent people and everything. There was a time when we weren’t doing much and everything was running smoothly, and he wrote an article about this kid in South Boston who got killed, and Jimmy decided to make him a hobby and shut him up once and for all. When I look back on it, I wish we did kill him. He’s still the most hated reporter in Boston. Everybody hates him.

And it wasn’t just the FBI that knew about Whitey and what he was doing. Jeremiah O’Sullivan, the head of the organized crime task force, was giving information to Connolly. Every time Whitey or Stevie’s name was mentioned they’d give the information to Connolly knowing that Connolly would be giving the information to us. They were all on the payroll. All of them were receiving presents all the time—money, wine, trips. Some agents you couldn’t give money to because they’d feel insulted, so you’d give them a crystal or a Chelsea Clock. Everybody had their weakness.

One mystery surrounding Whitey Bulger is the Lady of the Dunes—the nickname for the body of the mysterious woman found at the Race Point Dunes. Many believe Bulger murdered her.

That wasn’t him. What happened was, because of Deborah Hussey and Debra Davis being killed, he used to visit Provincetown. And he’d usually have his girlfriend or a young girl he was with. But Whitey didn’t kill her. That’s just people jumping on it and saying, “It could have been him.” He didn’t do it.

But Whitey did kill Debra Davis, you’re saying? That murder was never actually proven to be Whitey’s doing.

I wasn’t there for Debra Davis—it was just Jim Bulger and Steve Flemmi—but here’s the story I was told: [Whitey] told me how when he was in the house with Stevie, they grabbed Debra, dragged her downstairs to the basement, and put her in a chair. She was being killed because she was going to leave Stevie, and he’d told her too much—including about his relationship with John Connolly. So she’s in the chair and Stevie begins putting duct tape around her. She had beautiful hair, so Jim Bulger said to me, “When the duct tape went around her face and her hair, that’s when I knew it was over.” And Stevie kissed her on the forehead and said, “You’re going to another place now.” And then Jim Bulger’s exact words to me were, “And then she was strangled.” So he didn’t say who strangled her.

The relationship between Whitey and his brother Billy has always fascinated me—that the most notorious crime boss in Boston could have a brother who, as president of the Massachusetts State Senate, was the most powerful politician in Massachusetts.

OK, I was up at Billy Bulger’s house over 100 times with Jimmy. He never discussed any street business or crime with Billy. It was always conversations about regular family stuff. There’s no doubt in my mind that Billy knew Jimmy was involved in the rackets, but as far as the murders, if Billy did hear something about that I bet he’d choose not to believe it, because he’s a very religious man. There was the case of Senator John E. Powers, who was a judge. He fired Whitey from being a janitor at the courthouse. Billy never forgave him for that because after Whitey was fired from that job, he started committing all these crimes and stuff. So when it came to John E. Powers getting a raise or anything like that, it never made it past Billy Bulger in the Senate. So if someone was attacking his family, sure, he would stick it to that person whatever way he could legally. But as far as shielding Whitey from investigations? Billy never did that. Never.

Whitey’s attorney, Hank Brennan, recently shot down Black Mass, saying that “the real menace to Boston during that time and in other mob cases around the country—the federal government’s complicity in each and every one of those murders with the top echelon informant program.”

Well, [Jay Carney, Bulger's other attorney] is a buffoon. I mean, really. He was supposed to defend Jim Bulger, and when he stood up and gave his opening remarks, he basically admitted to every charge. What, he’s spoken to Jim Bulger for a hundred hours, and that’s supposed to make him something? Now, he speaks about Jim like he’s his best friend. He doesn’t know a thing about the real Jim Bulger, what’s happened, or anything. He’s literally a buffoon.

But it was the federal government that enabled us to get as far as we did. Without their interference, we would’ve been a short-lived gang. In some cases, we knew about investigations before they’d even been approved, or received financing. And it wasn’t just Connolly and the FBI. There was a bug in the Lancaster Street Garage that was given to us by a state trooper. The state police keep trying to pin it all on the FBI, but they were tipping us off, too. Whitey had his hands in everything. He had FBI. He had the Boston Police. He had Quincy Police. He had one guy in the DEA who was saying stuff to Connolly. He had people all over law enforcement that were giving information to him. With the movie, there’s no accuracy at all. The premise of corruption with the FBI is right, but as far as the events, the people, and the personalities? You could’ve told the truth and the movie would’ve been more violent than it is but they fabricated events. The movie is pure fiction.

Thanks to Marlow Stern.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Stephen "Stippo" Rakes, Possible Witness at Whitey Bulger Mob Murder Trial, Found Dead of Disputed Suicide

Stephen "Stippo" Rakes, a possible witness in the murder trial of alleged crime boss James "Whitey" Bulger, has been found dead, authorities said.

The body of Rakes, 59, had "no obvious signs of trauma" and an autopsy is being performed to determine the cause of death, Middlesex District Attorney Marian Ryan and Lincoln, Mass., Police Chief Kevin Mooney announced today. The corpse was found on Mill Street in Lincoln yesterday at 1:30 p.m., police said.

Rakes had been on the witness list and had been eager to testify that Bulger threatened his family at gunpoint and forced him to turn his liquor store into a front for the Winter Hill Gang. But earlier this week prosecutors informed Rakes he would not be called to testify, a decision that left Rakes "despondent," a source close to his family told ABC News.

The judge overseeing the Bulger case hunkered down with lawyers in a confidential conference at the South Boston courthouse today where the trial is being held. Bulger, alleged to be a notorious and murderous crime boss and federal informant, is standing trial after being found on the lam in California two years ago.

Federal prosecutors said Rakes was supposed to testify that Bulger and associate Stephen Flemmi threatened his daughter at gunpoint, and took over his South Boston liquor store for Bulger's headquarters. Bulger sidekick Kevin Weeks testified last week Rakes' contention that Bulger's gang put a gun to his daughter's head was bogus.

Rakes comes from a storied South Boston family. His brother Joseph Rakes was photographed in Stanley Forman's Pulitzer Prize winning photograph charging at an African-American man on Boston's City Hall with the sharp end of the American flag – which became the symbol of the racial unrest during the city's anti-busing crisis.

News of his death investigation came on the same day that Stephen "The Rifleman" Flemmi was slated to take the stand against Bulger. The two men ran the Winter Hill Gang for decades while also working as informants for the FBI, according to prosecutors and courtroom testimony.

Police told the Rakes family the death appeared to be a suicide. But a source close to the Rakes family told ABC News that "he had no phone, no wallet, and police are still looking for his car." The body of the man found in Lincoln was positively identified as Rakes this morning after a fingerprint match, sources said.

Rakes' longtime friend Steve Davis, whose sister Debbie was allegedly murdered by Bulger, had met him for breakfast daily before court. Davis said he last saw Rakes Tuesday in court but then couldn't reach him all night Tuesday and yesterday he did not meet him in the courthouse cafeteria for breakfast.

"Stippo would not kill himself. Absolutely not,'' Davis told ABC News this morning. "He was looking forward to taking the stand. He told me over and over he had a big bombshell to drop. He had everything to live for and was looking forward to his day in court."

Davis - who lost his sister, brother and father to homicide, and whose daughter was killed in a drunk driver accident - was devastated by the news.

"It doesn't make sense,'' Davis said.

Thanks to GMA.

Tuesday, July 09, 2013

Book Signing and Presentation by Authors of “The Boston Mob Guide: Hit Men, Hoodlums & Hideouts”

On Fri., Aug. 16, and Sat., Aug. 17, Beverly Ford and Stephanie Schorow, veteran journalists and co-authors of “The Boston Mob Guide: Hit Men, Hoodlums and Hideouts” will sign copies of their book and present at The Mob Museum, the National Museum of Organized Crime and Law Enforcement. The book signing will take place at the Museum from 12 to 4 p.m. on Fri., Aug. 16 and their presentation will take place on Sat., Aug. 17, from 1 to 2 p.m.

They will discuss the stories behind their books: “The Boston Mob Guide: Hit Men, Hoodlums & Hideouts,” released by The History Press, Inc., is a primer about the wiles of Whitey Bulger, the murderous rages of Joe “The Animal” Barboza and the double dealings of Stephen “The Rifleman” Flemmi. Ford and Schorow profile Boston’s gangsters in crisp clear prose, with helpful cross-references. The Boston Mob Guide travels back to Prohibition with the story of bootlegger Charles “King” Solomon and the murderous standoff between the Irish Gustin Gang and the emerging North End Mafia. The guide unravels the complicated hits of the Winter Hill Gang and the Irish mob wars of the ‘60s and ‘70s.

Beverly Ford is the Boston-based journalist and author who has spent more than 20 years as a reporter and freelance writer for the Boston Herald, the New York Daily News, the London Times, the London Mirror, Access Magazine, Bloomberg News and other publications. She is currently following Bulger’s trial for the New York Daily News.

Stephanie Schorow is the author of “The Crime of the Century: How the Brink’s Robbers Stole Millions” and “The Hearts of Boston; East of Boston: Notes from the Harbor Islands” (The History Press, 2008); “Boston on Fire: A History of Fires and Firefighting in Boston” and “The Cocoanut Grove Fire.” She was the editor of “Boston’s Fire Trail: A Walk Through the City’s Fire and Firefighting History” (The History Press, 2007).

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Robert DeLuca Expected to Testify Against Whitey Bulger

In a Mafia induction ceremony in 1989, Robert Deluca drew blood from his trigger finger as fellow alleged mobsters burned a Madonna prayer card and vowed to never betray the mob’s code of silence.

“As burn this Saint, so will burn my soul. I enter into this organization alive, and I will have to get out dead,’’ Deluca recited in Italian as he became a “made man” in the mob at the Medford initiation that was secretly bugged by the FBI.

Newscenter 5 has learned that Deluca, who is a reputed capo in the New England crime family, has betrayed the blood oath. He has agreed to cooperate with the FBI and act as a star witness in the James “Whitey” Bulger case, several sources said.

In 1995, DeLuca was indicted along with Bulger, Steven “The Rifleman” Flemmi, James “Jimmy the Bear” Martorano and Francis “Cadillac Frank” Salemme in a plethora of racketeering charges. But, by the time Deluca and his codefendants were arrested, Whitey Bulger was gone. He was tipped off to the pending indictment and went on the lam until his arrest in Santa Monica this June.

While Whitey Bulger was on the run, Deluca pleaded guilty to six counts of conspiracy, racketeering and interference with commerce by threats of violence charges and served 34 months in a federal prison, according to court documents.

By the time Bulger – who topped the FBI’s Most Wanted List – was captured, law enforcement sources said Deluca was losing his Rhode Island power base as the Mafia’s leadership roles shifted back to Boston.

In recent months, Deluca vanished from his base on Federal Hill and has not been seen in the North End. His North Providence home has been sold. His wife and two kids have vanished. “We saw the moving truck there and they were gone,’’ said Grace Olsen, Deluca’s next-door neighbor.

Deluca is one of several mob bosses to “flip” in recent years. In New York, Bonanno crime family boss Joseph “Big Joey” Messina cooperated with the government to avoid a death sentence. The Philadelphia Mafia’s boss, Ralph Natale, also made a deal.

“Historically it was very rare,’’ retired Massachusetts State Police Det. Lt. Bob Long said of Mafia leaders becoming cooperators. “Now rumors are that Deluca is doing the same thing…

“It appears that the old days of following the code of silence, the omerta, of this thing of ours is crumbled. It’s like a bygone era,” said Long.

Deluca’s neighbor said living next to a mob boss had its benefits. “We were very sad to see him go,’’ Olsen said.

When asked if she knew about his cooperation agreement, she nodded. “Knowing him and having broken bread with him,’’ she said, “I think that he did what he had to do to protect his young family.”

Thanks to Michele McPhee

Thursday, March 05, 2009

Wife of Reputed Mafia Associate, Arthur Gianelli, Pleads Guilty

The wife of reputed Mafia associate Arthur Gianelli pleaded guilty to federal racketeering, money laundering, and other charges just as she was about to stand trial with him and three other people.

Mary Ann Gianelli, a 52-year-old nurse from Lynnfield and the sister-in-law of convicted former FBI agent John J. Connolly Jr., admitted that she helped her husband run his illegal gambling business after he was indicted on federal racketeering charges in 2005 and placed under house arrest.

Assistant US Attorney Michael Tabak told the judge that Arthur Gianelli used to personally collect cash from various locations where his bookmaking and video poker businesses operate, but hired another man to do it after his arrest. When that man was called to a federal grand jury in 2006, he revealed that he collected more than $10,000 a month for Gianelli, according to Tabak.

The man told the grand jury he stuffed the cash in a shoebox, then drove to a North End garage at lunchtime on the 16th of each month and left the box inside an unattended silver Mercedes parked in a predetermined spot.

Tabak said investigators conducted surveillance at the garage on the 16th of one month and "in came a silver Mercedes and Mrs. Gianelli was driving it."

The prosecutor said that if Mary Ann Gianelli had gone to trial the government would have proved she collected illegal proceeds from her husband's business, filed IRS returns in 2002 and 2003 falsely claiming that she drew legitimate income from a trucking company, and was involved in other wrongdoing.

Mary Ann Gianelli pleaded guilty to 19 counts of racketeering, money laundering, filing false tax returns, and illegal structuring of cash transactions. Under a plea agreement, the government dropped an additional 141 money laundering counts against her.

US District Judge Nathaniel M. Gorton allowed her to remain free on bail and set sentencing for June 5. Prosecutors said they would recommend an 18-month jail term. Her lawyer said he would recommend probation with a period of house arrest.

"Mary Ann Gianelli played a minuscule role in the grand scheme of this case," said Boston attorney E. Peter Parker. "Her crimes consist solely of handling money in the wrong way. Her criminal conduct is out of character with the way she has lived her life."

He said she and her husband were high school sweathearts who have been married for 28 years and have two children.

Mary Ann Gianelli's sister, Elizabeth, is married to Connolly. Connolly is the once-decorated former FBI agent who was convicted of federal racketeering charges for protecting long-time informants James "Whitey" Bulger and Stephen "The Rifleman" Flemmi from prosecution. He was also convicted of murder in Florida in November for plotting with the two gangsters to orchestrate the 1982 slaying of a Boston businessman.

The Connolly and Gianelli families have had homes next to each other in Lynnfield for many years.

Jury selection is continuing today in the trial of her husband; Dennis Albertelli, 56, and his wife, Gisele, 54, of Stow; and Frank Iacoboni, 65, of Leominster. A dozen codefendants previously pleaded guilty. Opening statements in the trial are expected Thursday.

Thanks to Shelley Murphy

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Whitey Bulger's Femme Fatale Speaks Out

In an exclusive interview - her first since being paroled from state prison - a femme fatale associate of James “Whitey” Bulger is revealing for the first time who she believes ordered her death 25 years ago when she survived three gunshots to the head.

Eva “Liz” McDonough, 51, said she believes South Boston mob boss Stephen “The Rifleman” Flemmi wanted her dead for asking too many questions about her missing cousin, Debra Davis.

“I wish I could (expletive) see him face to face. I’d probably spit on him,” she said of Flemmi, 73, who is serving life for 10 murders, including Davis. “She used to tell me Whitey didn’t like her. I just want to know why. Why? She’s probably more at peace than I am.”

McDonough still wears hats - flaunts them, truth be told, for pure amusement in the North End neighborhood where a cowboy hat famously took the worst of the bullets meant for her brain.

Never to be caught, her would-be executioner came masked March 20, 1984 to a dive called One If By Land and left her with scars on her scalp and right ear. McDonough has been vocal in the past about the now dead drug dealer she thought fired the gun, but now says she believes Flemmi ordered the hit because she was badgering him about her cousin, and his girlfriend, Davis, 26, who went missing in 1981.

“One time I got little rough with him,” said McDonough.

In an age of cutthroat chauvinism, Flemmi and serial psycho killer James “Whitey” Bulger were surprisingly tolerant of the lusty McDonough, trophy moll of late Boston Mafia made man Nicky Giso, with whom she has a son, 25.

She said she confronted Flemmi, her lips loosened by liquor, at his and Bulger’s headquarters at the Lancaster Street garage and demanded, “ ‘I want to know where the (expletive) Deb is.’ I always knew he was worried I would say something to the (Mafia) and they would have that on him.

McDonough has four months left on the parole she was granted from MCI-Framingham on Aug. 18 after serving 18 years for burglary and drug possession. The woman who once posed as a cleaning lady and census taker to rip off Boston’s legitimate rich will be on probation until 2018.

Swearing - admittedly, not for the first time - the addictions to booze and dope are in her past - McDonough is still a standout in Dior eyeglasses, high-heeled spat boots and a fedora. But instead of loathsome lovers lavishing her with furs and Mercedes Benzes, the 7th-grade dropout uses money she earned making salads in a restaurant pre-release to bargain hunt in consignment shops. She hopes to land a job.

“They say to receive a blessing you have to pass one on. I worked on myself, really worked on myself,” the sober house resident said. “I’m grateful the Parole Board gave me a chance. Parole and probation continue to help me with re-entry.

“I don’t have what I had,” she said, “but I’m comfortable. I have myself, and that’s priceless. My intentions are, down the road, to open a sober house for abused women. I want to give other addicts hope.”

Asked if she wonders how Southie moll Catherine Greig is holding up on the lam now 14 years with Bulger, McDonough said, “I know she’s living the best that anyone could live. They’ve got plenty of dough, right or wrong. I think he’d rather have a woman as a partner. He doesn’t trust men. He’s no fool.”

As for those persistent rumors Bulger is bisexual, McDonough, who spoke fondly of his “movie star” charisma, nearly fell out of her chair, laughing. “He likes broads too much. Maybe just too young,” she said. “But gay? Naw!

“He got a kick out of me. He used to say, ‘Smile, they’re (the FBI) snapping (photos)!’ I laugh at these guys who say they ‘talked’ to him. He was by appointment only. He liked to have a good laugh, too, don’t think he didn’t.”

Bulger, she said, “hated women who smoked” and would have ditched even Raquel Welch if she’d lit up in his face. To push his buttons, McDonough would jump into his car when his back was turned and puff away.

“He knew I was busting his (expletive). He thought it was daredevil (expletive).” Then, her face darkening, she said, “I just wish I was smarter than I was. Drugs brought me to my knees.

“That era’s gone. It was glamorous. It was a lot of fun. But, it stripped me of my pride, my dignity. I guess sometimes it takes a wise woman to play the fool.”

Thanks to Laurel J. Sweet

Thursday, January 15, 2009

John Connolly, Former FBI Agent, Gets 40 Years in Prison for Role in Mob Hit

A judge sentenced a rogue FBI agent to 40 years in prison on Thursday for the 1982 mob-related killing of a witness who was about to testify against Boston mob members, court officials said.

Disgraced ex-FBI agent John Connolly Jr. "crossed over to the dark side," said Miami-Dade Circuit Court Judge Stanford Blake. The sentence will run consecutively to a 10-year racketeering sentence.

Connolly, 68, was convicted in November of second-degree murder in the death of businessman John Callahan, an executive with World Jai-Alai. Callahan's bullet-riddled body was found in the trunk of a Cadillac parked at Miami International Airport.

Connolly's fall from celebrated mob-buster to paid gangland flunky captivated a South Florida courtroom for weeks. In testimony at his sentencing hearing last month, he denied having any role in Callahan's death.

"It's heartbreaking to hear what happened to your father and to your husband," he told members of Callahan's family. "My heart is broken when I hear what you say."

He explained, in the face of vigorous cross-examination, that rubbing elbows with killers and gangsters and winning their confidence was part of his job. His attorney argued that Connolly did what the FBI wanted him to do, and now was being held responsible.

Connolly did not testify at his trial.

Prosecutors had asked that Connolly be given a life sentence, saying the 30-year minimum was not enough because Connolly abused his badge.

In a Boston Globe interview published last month, however, Connolly vigorously denied being a corrupt agent. "I did not commit these crimes I was charged with," Connolly told the newspaper. "I never sold my badge. I never took anybody's money. I never caused anybody to be hurt, at least not knowingly, and I never would."

During his two-month trial, jurors heard that Connolly told his mob connections that Callahan, 45, was a potential witness against them, setting him up for the gangland-style slaying.

According to testimony, Connolly was absorbed by the very gangsters he was supposed to be targeting -- members of South Boston's notorious Winter Hill gang. His story was said to be the inspiration for the character played by Matt Damon in the 2006 Martin Scorsese movie, "The Departed."

Connolly's tale was closely followed in New England, where he grew up in Boston's "Southie" neighborhood, the same area long dominated by the Winter Hill gang and its notorious leader, James "Whitey" Bulger. Sought in 19 slayings, Bulger is the FBI's second most-wanted fugitive.

During the first two decades of his FBI career, Connolly won kudos in the bureau's Boston office, cultivating informants against New England mobsters. Prosecutors said Connolly was corrupted by his two highest-ranking snitches: Bulger and Stephen "The Rifleman" Flemmi.

Connolly retired from the FBI in 1990 and later was indicted on federal racketeering and other charges stemming from his long relationship with Bulger and Flemmi. He was convicted of racketeering in 2002 and was serving a 10-year federal prison sentence when he was indicted in 2005 in the Callahan slaying.

During testimony, jurors heard that Connolly was on the mob payroll, collecting $235,000 from Bulger and Flemmi while shielding his mob pals from prosecution and leaking the identities of informants.

The prosecution's star witnesses at the Miami trial were Flemmi, who is now in prison, and mob hit man John Martorano, who has admitted to 20 murders, served 12 years in prison and is now free.

Callahan, who often socialized with gangsters, had asked the gang to execute Oklahoma businessman Roger Wheeler over a business dispute, according to testimony. Martorano killed Wheeler in 1981 on a golf course, shooting him once between the eyes, prosecutors said.

After Connolly told Bulger and Flemmi that Callahan was going to implicate them in the slaying, Martorano was sent to do away with Callahan, prosecutors said. But one star witness did not testify -- the former FBI agent who inspired the 1997 film "Donnie Brasco." He refused to take the stand after the judge denied his request to testify anonymously.

Thanks to Rich Phillips

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Did a FBI Hero Join the Mob?

Sitting in an unmarked sedan car in South Boston, John Connolly had his binoculars trained on a scene just a block away. It was a gruesome spectacle: a man who had just delivered guns and ammunition to the IRA by ship, was being tortured to death by Boston's most notorious gangster on suspicion of being a snitch for the FBI.

As the murder was playing out, it is alleged Connolly, a leading FBI agent, communicated by walkie-talkie with the torturer, James "Whitey" Bulger, as he first pulled out the victim's tongue and teeth and then tried to strangle the gun-runner, John McIntyre, with a ship's rope.

The FBI man's complicity in this particular murder has never been proved but his betrayal of his badge – proved in two other cases – is one of the most shameful episodes in the agency's history. The macabre incident, worthy of a scene fromThe Sopranos, has nonetheless drawn attention to an extraordinary double standard in which the FBI allowed a notorious Irish-American gang to commit murder and mayhem in Boston for more than a decade, in return for information that would eventually break the back of the Mafia.

Connolly's career would eventually inspire Martin Scorsese's 2006 movie, The Departed (Two-Disc Special Edition), in which the loyalties of an undercover agent become hopelessly compromised. The movie, like his career, is set in south Boston where the federal law enforcement agency is waging war on Irish-American organised crime. Connolly's character is played by Matt Damon.

The long arm of the law has finally caught up with Connolly, now aged 68. He was convicted last month of a 1982 murder and has been called to court for sentencing. A decision is likely within weeks. In dramatic courtroom scenes this week, he angrily shouted out his innocence. His many supporters maintain that the FBI is at fault for encouraging him to turn a blind eye to crimes throughout the 1980s.

Nobody knows quite when Connolly decided on his betrayal but it is assumed to have been in the 1970s and bribes had a lot to do with it. As a decorated FBI man, Connolly certainly had access to the most classified information. He learned that the IRA gun runner John McIntyre intended to testify against his fellow gun runners. So, it is alleged, Connolly passed the information on to "Whitey" Bulger, the infamous head of Boston's Winter Hill Gang who was behind the IRA arms shipment.

McIntyre and a friend were lured to a safe house where the gruesome torture began. At one point, Bulger asked his victim if he wanted a bullet to the head, to which McIntyre replied, "Yes, please". He was then shot multiple times and his body later dumped on waste ground.

The gang has now scattered, Bulger himself is still on the run and is America's second most wanted fugitive (after Osama Bin Laden) but some of its members have escaped prosecution by giving evidence. They have also made small fortunes turning their exploits as mobsters into books and screenplays. But if Bulger and his deputy Stephen "the Rifleman" Flemmi were the feared enforcers on the streets of south Boston (Bulger was a "leg breaker, drug dealer, scumbag," in the words of Eddie Mackenzie, one of his ex-accomplices) Connolly acted as a big brother figure.

Back in the 1980s, Special Agent Connolly was a towering giant in the FBI's anti-Mafia unit. He had already spent two decades cultivating informants among New England's mob bosses. As a young undercover agent he walked the streets of New York with the FBI agent Joseph Pistone, who documented his own undercover life in the book Donnie Brasco later made into a film with Johnny Depp.

Pistone however, is not there for Connolly in his current hour of need. As the sentencing hearing of the former FBI hero got under way, Pistone refused to take the stand because the judge refused his request to testify anonymously.

The US courts recently concluded that, in the name of catching ever-bigger Mafia fish, FBI agents were encouraged to let Irish-American gangsters rivals of the mafia, run amok. The policy led to serious breakthroughs against the Mafia but also countless murders and the ill-fated shipment of guns to the IRA. But former FBI agents have also testified on Connolly's behalf and there is even a sophisticated website proclaiming his innocence. When he showed up to be sentenced for his role in facilitating yet another gruesome murder by James "Whitey" Bulger this week, he wept tears for the family of the victim John Callahan. The bullet-ridden body of Callahan was found in the boot of a Cadillac parked at Miami International Airport in 1982. "It's heart-breaking to hear what happened to your father and your husband," Connolly told the family.

In an emotional prison interview with The Boston Globe this week, Connolly still proclaimed his innocence. "I never sold my badge. I never took anybody's money. I never caused anybody to be hurt, at least not knowingly, and I never would."

As a member of the elite anti-Mafia squad for more than 20 years, Connolly's speciality was cultivating informants against New England's mobsters. His accomplishments led to the FBI's Boston office being lionised. Connolly himself became a near legendary figure for his role in a secretly recorded Mafia initiation ceremony complete with blood oaths and prayers and the incineration of an image of the Virgin Mary in the palms of newly made members. He was the first outsider to penetrate the Mob's holy of holies and his coup led to numerous prosecutions of leading members. But somewhere along the way he began taking shortcuts. With the full knowledge and approval of his FBI bosses he started offering protection to members of the Winter Hill Gang in return for leads.

The FBI adamantly denies turning a deliberate blind eye to years of bloody mayhem, murder and gunrunning and maintains that Connolly was merely a rogue agent. But, two months ago, a federal judge slapped the Bureau down and ordered it to pay £1.8m compensation to the 80-year old mother of the murdered John McIntyre.

A damning verdict stated: "The (FBI's) attitude at least reflects a judgement that Connolly's at-the-edge conduct could be tolerated for the greater good of bringing down La Cosa Nostra."

The FBI's successes against the Mafia were matched by its failures against Whitey Bulger's gang. When the Feds finally got around to arresting him in 1995, he was tipped off by a phone call from Connolly. Bulger now has a price of more than $1m on his head, his face on posters in every airport in America, but the likelihood seems that the 71-year-old is lying low in a west of Ireland village.

It now seems that Connolly actually became a member of Bulger's gang, a well-paid partner in crime, very early in their relationship in the late 1970s. He was full-time member of the Irish Goodfellas. It all started back in south Boston (or Southie) a landing pad for generations of working class Irish immigrants. It is a tightly knit place of hard working construction workers and armchair Irish republicans where at the height of Northern Ireland's troubles every bar seemed to have a collection box for IRA "prisoners of war."

Connolly and Bulger grew up in the same block of public housing in the 1940s where the few career options included becoming a cop on the beat, a fireman or a mobster. In his 25-year reign as head of the Winter Hill Gang, Bulger committed as many as 90 murders.

He had other high-powered connections, however. Billy Bulger, his younger brother was for years the head of the Massachusetts state Senate before becoming president of the University of Massachusetts from which he was recently forced to retire. Billy was also a childhood friend and a mentor to Connolly, creating a tangled knot of alliances that went all the way from the Massachusetts state house to the FBI and an untold number of back street torture and murder scenes to which Connolly routinely turned a blind eye.

Connolly was well rewarded of course. "We're taking real good care of that guy," Bulger once said of Connolly. For protecting extortion rackets the agent was reportedly lavished with thousands of dollars and diamond rings in bribes.

When the FBI's internal affairs unit finally turned Connolly over after Bulger's disappearance, they found dozens of uncashed salary cheques and proof that he owned a fancy suburban house. There was also a holiday home among the jet setters of Cape Cod and a £30,000 fishing boat.

Connolly is now facing up to33 years in jail for the 1982 Callahan murder. But his FBI career is one the agency would prefer was forgotten by the public. It promises to haunt the US law enforcement agency for many years, however, as more victims come forward seeking compensation for murders that took place while Connolly and other FBI agents deliberately looked the other way.

Thanks to Leonard Doyle

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

"Cadillac Frank" Salemme Gets Five Years in Prison

Former New England Mafia boss Francis "Cadillac Frank" Salemme was sentenced today in federal court to five years in prison on charges of lying and obstructing justice. With credit for time served, the sentence handed down by US District Judge Richard G. Stearns means that Salemme will be free by Christmas. Salemme, 74, pleaded guilty in April to a two-count indictment in US District Court in Boston.

Salemme has admitted that after he began cooperating with the government in 1999 -- in an investigation into the FBI's corrupt handling of long-time informants James "Whitey" Bulger and Stephen "The Rifleman" Flemmi -- he lied about the 1993 disappearance of South Boston nightclub owner Steven DiSarro.

Prosecutors alleged that Salemme watched his son, Frank, strangle DiSarro at a Sharon home, then helped his son dispose of the body. The younger Salemme has since died of lymphoma. But in his plea agreement, Salemme denied any responsibility for the "disappearance and presumed murder" of DiSarro.

Asked by the judge at today's hearing if he had anything to say, Salemme said he wanted to "categorically deny" any involvement in DiSarro's murder. Salemme said he believed he had cooperated fully with law enforcement. "I've done what I thought was right all along," he said.

On his way out of the courtroom, a handcuffed Salemme in a black suit with a crisp shirt looked at his brother, Jack, and said, "Give my love to the kids."

Outside the courtroom, Jack said, "He's just going to fade off into the sunset and he doesn't want to come around here."

"As far as Frank is concerned, he stuck by his end of the bargain and it's over now," said Jack, "I don't think he's ever coming back to the Boston area."

Salemme became the head of the New England mob in the early 1990s. He ruled during a bloody power struggle until his indictment on federal racketeering charges in January 1995, along with Bulger and Flemmi.

He pleaded guilty to racketeering and extortion and admitted participating in eight gangland killings in the 1960s. A judge reduced his sentence in 2003 because his cooperation had helped convict former FBI agent John J. Connolly Jr. of racketeering. Salemme testified that Connolly had warned him, Bulger, and Flemmi to flee just before they were indicted in 1995. Bulger remains a fugitive.

Salemme was released into the federal witness protection program in 2003. He was indicted on the most recent charges a year later.

Thanks to Shelly Murphy

Sunday, January 06, 2008

The Executioner, John Martorano

There are few men alive today with the underworld credentials of John Martorano, and even fewer who are out of prison and walking the streets. For more than a decade, Martorano was the chief executioner for Boston's Winter Hill Gang, a loose confederation of Irish and Italian-American gangsters run by James "Whitey" Bulger.

Martorano, a former Catholic altar boy and high school football star, became a cool and calculating killer. But as correspondent Steve Kroft reports, he is perhaps best known as the government witness who helped expose a web of corruption and collusion involving the mob and the Boston office of the FBI.

For years, he was one of the most feared men in Boston, and this is why: Martorano says he never kept count of how many people he killed. "Until in the end, I never realized it was that many," he tells Kroft.

Asked how many, Martorano says, "A lot. Too many."

"Do you have a number?" Kroft asks.

"I confessed to 20 in court," Martorano replies.

"You sure you remembered 'em all?" Kroft asks.

"I hope so," Martorano says,

Martorano had to remember them all. It was part of a deal he cut with the federal government that put him back on the streets of Boston after only 12 years in prison -- a little more than seven months served for each of the 20 people he killed, many of them fellow gangsters, and many of them at close range after looking into their eyes.

Asked if he always killed people by shooting them, Martorano tells Kroft, "I think I stabbed one guy."

"But you like guns," Kroft remarks.

"Well, it's the easiest way I think," Martorano says.

Martorano says he did not get any satisfaction out of the fact that people were afraid of him. "But everybody likes to be respected for one thing or another," he admits.

His manner is unemotional and detached, and he speaks with the brevity of a professional witness, which he has become. His testimony helped wipe out one of the largest criminal enterprises in New England, for which he served as chief executioner. But Martorano is no psychopath, and he doesn't much like the term "hit man."

"The hit man is…that sounds to me like somebody that's getting paid to a paid contract. I mean, you could never pay me to kill anybody," he says.

"A lot of people would say you're a serial killer," Kroft remarks.

"I might be a vigilante, but not a serial killer," Martorano says. "Serial killers, you have to stop them. They'll never stop. And they enjoy it. I never enjoyed it. I don't enjoy risking my life but if the cause was right I would."

Martorano says he "always" felt like he was doing the right thing. "Even if it was wrong, I always tried to do the right thing."

If you believe Martorano -- and the Justice Department does -- he killed out of a sense of loyalty and duty. He sees himself as a stand-up guy, a man of his word, which is why he decided to talk to 60 Minutes.

It goes back 50 years, when Martorano was a star running back on the Mount St. Charles Academy football team in Rhode Island. One of his blockers was the late 60 Minutes correspondent Ed Bradley. He promised Bradley he would sit down with him and tell his story, but Ed died unexpectedly before Martorano got out of prison.

"I never thought I'd be sitting here with you, I thought I'd be here with Ed. But I'm sitting here because Ed wanted me to sit here and I'm honoring that," Martorano explains.

"I know one of the questions that Ed wanted to ask you. In sort of the way that Ed asked those questions, I think he wanted to be sitting here and say, 'What happened Johnny?' Why was it do you think that you went in different directions?" Kroft asks.

"Well, I think it was mainly the influence of my father and his principles and his values that he pushed onto me," Martorano explains.

His father owned an after hour's club called Luigi's in a rough Boston neighborhood known as the "Combat Zone." It was a hangout for hoodlums who would become Martorano's role models, and many of them shared his father’s simple Sicilian values.

"He was the oldest son, and he taught me 'You're the oldest son and this is your heritage. You've got to take care of your family and be a man. I don't care what else you are, you’ve got to be a man,'" Martorano says.

It was the code he lived by and killed for. The first time it was an ex con, Robert Palladino, he thought was going to implicate his brother Jimmy in a murder. Palladino was found under an expressway with a bullet in his head.

Martorano says he didn't see anything wrong with it. "I saved my brother’s life, somebody got hurt, that had to be," he says.

Asked if it felt like a duty, Martorano says, "An obligation."

"Was the next time easier?" Kroft asks.

"Well, it's sort of like a lawyer trying his first case. It's difficult but the next case is easier. Then it gets easier, I guess, as you go. 'Cause it's you know, doing this is harder than that," Martorano says.

Why?

"'Cause it's hard for me to do. I never did it before," he says.

By the 1970s, his circle of friends and family had expanded to include the Winter Hill Gang, led by the notorious Irish mob boss James "Whitey" Bulger and Stevie "The Rifleman" Flemmi. Martorano was their partner in a business that included gambling, loan sharking, extortion and murder. Martorano's specialty was conflict resolution.

"We had a lot of problems with people. And you know, you just killed them before they kill you. It's kill or get killed at times," Martorano explains.

"I mean, on one occasion, you walked into a crowded bar…and shot somebody. In broad daylight…with the policeman across the street," Kroft says.

"Correct," Martorano admits.

"That's pretty confident," Kroft remarks.

"Well, I felt confident," Martorano says. "You put a disguise on and you just get to feel invisible.

Martorano remembers what the disguise was. "I had a yellow hard hat, a white meat cutter's coat, full length and a beard and mustaches and sunglasses," he recalls.

Asked what he did afterwards, Martorano says, "I went home and changed, back to work."

They operated out of an old body shop, long since abandoned, but Whitey Bulger's chair is still there, and so is his old office.

"I think that's the trapdoor for the cellar. Used to leave that open all the time. Just to intimidate people. Try to get the truth out of them," Martorano remembers. "People would look down there and just wonder."

"Anybody go down there and never come up?" Kroft asks.

"I think so, yeah," Martorano says.

By 1978 Martorano had already killed 18 people, and facing an indictment for fixing horse races, he fled to Florida, where he was living a quiet life under the name "Richard Aucoin." He was only there a few years when Bulger and Flemmi called, asking him to carry out a murder that made headlines across the country, the assassination of a wealthy corporate executive in the parking lot of the exclusive Southern Hills Country Club in Tulsa.

The victim was Roger Wheeler, the CEO of Telex Corporation and owner of World Jai Alai, a profitable sports betting business that Bulger was trying to muscle in on. Martorano says the logistical information to carry out the hit was provided by a former Boston FBI agent named Paul Rico.

"How did you manage to get into the Southern Hills Country Club to kill Mr. Wheeler?" Kroft asks.

"There was no gates. We drive in. Waited for him to finish playing golf. I had an update when he was gonna -- his tee time. So, I just waited for him to finish," Martorano remembers.

"You knew what he looked like?" Kroft asks.

"I had his description from Rico," Martorano says.

Martorano says he shot Wheeler once in the head.

Martorano says it wasn't the first or the last time he would get useful information from an FBI man. One of the FBI's top organized crime investigators in Boston, a corrupt agent named John Connolly, helped them out for years. Martorano says it was Connolly who told them that an associate of theirs named John Callahan was about to rat them out on the Wheeler murder. Callahan would become Martorano's 20th and final victim.

"Do you think that John Connolly knew that you were gonna kill Callahan?" Kroft asks.

"Sure," Martorano says. "He said it, 'We're all going to go to jail the rest of our life if this guy doesn't get killed.'"

"And this an FBI agent telling you this?" Kroft asks.

"This is an FBI agent telling it to Whitey, telling it to me," Martorano says.

Martorano has already told this story under oath, and is expected to tell it again to a jury in Florida this spring when Connolly goes on trial for complicity in that murder. He's already serving a ten-year sentence for obstructing justice. In the end, it was a Massachusetts State Police investigation that began to unravel the Winter Hill Gang. In 1995, Martorano, Flemmi and Whitey Bulger were all indicted for racketeering. Bulger, who was tipped off by Connolly about his impending arrest, went underground and is still a fugitive. And in a Boston courtroom, Martorano was about to learn something that would change his life forever.

He knew that Bulger and Flemmi had been getting information from the FBI. But he didn't know they had been also been providing it. For decades, his partners were top-level FBI informants, snitching on the Italian mafia and on Martorano and other gang members. They had violated his code of loyalty, especially Whitey Bulger.

"I'll go along with a lot of things, but not -- no Judas, not no informant," Martorano says. "I never informed or ratted on nobody. And if I could've killed him, I would've killed him. But he wasn't there and that's what I think he deserves."

Martorano decided to strike back the only way he could, using words as his weapon. "I gave him back what he gave everybody else," Martorano says.

"You became an informant?" Kroft asks.

"Nope, I became a government witness," Martorano says. "Not an informant, or a rat. I became a government witness."

Asked what the difference is, Martorano tells Kroft, "One's got the courage to stand on the stand, the other ones' are doin' it behind your back, and droppin' dimes. And how can I be rattin' on a guy who's the rat for 30 years? I'm tryin' to stop him from rattin' anymore."

Bulger, who is still on the FBI's "Most Wanted" list, is now facing 19 murder charges as a result largely of Martorano’s testimony, and Flemmi is in prison for life. His cooperation helped solve nearly 40 murders, including the 20 he confessed to -- and it helped uncover secret mob graves -- all in return for a sentence of just 14 years.

"In some ways, he got away with murder," Kroft tells Donald Stern, who was the U.S. attorney who eventually signed off on the agreement.

"In some ways, he did get away with murder," Stern agrees.

"The only thing worse than this deal was not doing this deal. 'Cause if we didn't do this deal, no one would receive any punishment for these murders. Corrupt law enforcement arrangements would not have been uncovered and prosecuted. And the cancer in law enforcement that existed in Boston for a number of years would have remained there," Stern says.

"So you're saying it changed the landscape of organized crime in Boston?" Kroft asks.

"It did," Stern replies.

When Martorano was released from prison last spring, he decided to return to Boston. He says he feels safe here now. Most of his enemies are dead, in jail, or on the lam.

"In some cases, regret can take over a person's life. I don't get the sense that that's the case with you," Kroft remarks.

"Well, maybe that's just not my temperament or my personality. Maybe it is, but you can't see it. Or maybe I can't express it the way you want it, but I have my regrets," Martorano says.

"You seem cold," Kroft says. "You killed 20 people and that’s all you have to say about it?"

"I wish it wasn't that way. I mean, I wish there was none. You know, you can’t change the past. I’m trying to do the best I can with the future and explain it as best I can. I regret it all, I can’t change it," Martorano says.

"You still a Catholic?" Kroft asks.

"Sure," Martorano says.

"I mean, you can burn in hell for killing one person," Kroft points out.

"I don't believe that," Martorano says. "At one point, maybe a couple years ago, I sent for a priest and gave him a confession. It was maybe 30 years since my last confession. But I went through the whole scenario with him, and went through my whole life with him, and confessed. And at the end of it, he says, 'Well, what do you think I should give you for penance?' I says, 'Father, you can justifiably crucify me.' He laughed and says, 'Nope. Ten Hail Marys, ten Our Fathers, and don't do it again.' So I listened to him."

"Anything that could get you to kill again?" Kroft asks.

"Not that I can think of," Martorano says.

Not even Whitey Bulger?

Says Martorano, "Well, there’s a bounty out on him."

Thanks to Steve Kroft

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Appeal Heard for FBI Agent Convicted of Aiding Whitey Bulger

A lawyer for retired FBI agent John J. Connolly Jr. urged a federal appeals court today to overturn his 2002 racketeering conviction because one of the government's key witnesses, former New England Mafia boss Francis "Cadillac Frank'' Salemme, allegedly boasted to a fellow mobster that he lied on the stand.

Judge Bruce M. Selya questioned the events described by Connolly's lawyer, suggesting that Salemme may have told the truth in court and then lied to Philadelphia mobster Roger Vella when the two of them were imprisoned together later.

"We have a Mafia don who is committing the worst crime a Mafia don can ... he rats out and cooperates with the feds,'' said Selya, one of three judges on the US Court of Appeals for the First Circuit considering Connolly's case. "Why isn't it the most natural thing for him to try to explain away his cooperation?''

Braintree attorney Terrance J. McCarthy, who represents Connolly, argued that Salemme "had every reason to tell Vella the truth'' when he claimed prosecutors helped him shape his story to win a conviction because he didn't know Vella was a confidential informant and would later report the boasts to the FBI.

Connolly is serving 10 years in prison. He was convicted of racketeering, obstruction of justice, and lying to an FBI agent for protecting longtime informants James "Whitey" Bulger and Stephen "The Rifleman'' Flemmi from prosecution and leaking them information. He's also scheduled to stand trial in Miami in March for a 1982 gangland slaying.

Salemme, who had been granted immunity for his testimony at Connolly's trial, was indicted in 2004 on a charge of lying to investigators by withholding information about the 1993 disappearance of South Boston nightclub manager Steven DiSarro. Federal prosecutors allege Salemme witnessed DiSarro's slaying and helped bury his body, and he is awaiting trial in that case.

"Doesn't that cloud the picture a bit?" said Circuit Judge Kermit V. Lipez, questioning the government today about why any of Salemme's testimony at Connolly's trial should be believed, given that he's now awaiting trial for lying.

US Special Attorney William J. Nardini said Salemme allegedly lied about his involvement in DiSarro's slaying to protect other organized-crime figures. He argued that Salemme's statements to Vella -- including claims that the government promised him $500,000 for his testimony and a condo on a golf course -- were "pretty absurd.''

Thanks to Shelley Murphy

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Saturday, March 17, 2007

America's Most Wanted: James "Whitey" Joseph Bulger

Friends of ours: James "Whitey" Bulger, Raymond Patriarca, Jerry Angiulo, "Cadillac" Frank Salemme, Steven "The Rifleman" Flemmi
Friends of mine: John Connelly

There was a period of time in the 80s when renowned mobster James "Whitey" Bulger led a reign of terror of sorts in Boston, Mass. Those who knew him or dug around for information found their lives threatened by Bulger and his crew. So when he went on the run in 1995, no one talked for fear of retaliation. But now, FBI Agents have released surveillance video of Bulger in hopes of helping their investigation. Although the video is more than 25 years old, agents on the Bulger Fugitive Task Force believe bringing national attention to the case may help jog the memories of those who were too scared to come forward when Whitey Bulger had control.

The housing projects in South Boston are a difficult place to grow up. Crowded and violent, these complexes are renowned in the Boston area for creating tough, often criminal, young men. That's where the Bulger boys, Jimmy and Billy spent their formative years. But the neighborhood had different effects on the two boys. Billy grew up to be a very well respected leader in the community. He was elected to the Massachusetts Senate in 1979 and became its president, a position he held for 17 years.

Jimmy, however, was a different story. He was always known as a tough kid on the streets - no one would call him his nickname, "Whitey," to his face. Bulger hated the name, given to him for his shock of blond hair. At a young age he turned to a life of crime. He was convicted of bank robbery in the 1950s and spent nine years in federal prisons, including the infamous Alcatraz. When he got out, he made his way back to Boston and reportedly vowed never to go back to prison again. But that's not to say that Whitey changed his ways. Authorities allege Whitey became an underworld mob figure, involved in loan sharking, extortion, money laundering and various other crimes. In the 70s state police and DEA agents say Bulger's most common criminal activity was extortion of other criminals. Drug dealers who wanted to move their drugs through South Boston had to pay Bulger for the privilege. As a result, he was known as a Robin Hood figure in the community, stealing from the criminals and giving back to the residents of his neighborhood.

Cops say Bulger was not always so philanthropic. Those who knew him say he could be violent, especially to those who got in his way. When a liquor store owner would not sell his business, cops say Bulger threatened his infant daughter. Those who seemed to be a threat to Bulger kept disappearing. But for years, Bulger was never charged with any crime, and never arrested.

Meanwhile, a crackdown on the Italian Mafia was taking place all over the country, and Boston was no exception. In the 60s and 70s, Boston's mob community was controlled by the Patriarca family. Raymond Patriarca ruled out of Providence, Rhode Island, and his underboss Jerry Angiulo ran the rackets in Boston. The mafia controlled most of the nefarious business in the city, but they were not the only act in town. The Winter Hill Gang, an Irish force named for a hill in Somerville, MA, was renowned for their violent manner and iron fist with which they ran their extortion schemes.

In the mid eighties, two events left the New England mob scene in turmoil. The mob boss, Raymond Patriarca died. His lieutenant in charge of Boston, Jerry Angiulo, was sent to prison. Boston was up for grabs. The Patriarca family out of Rhode Island tried to maintain power, but they were challenged by a local don, "Cadillac" Frank Salemme. Salemme wound up on top, thanks to, officials report, Steven "The Rifleman" Flemmi and James "Whitey" Bulger.

The government's investigation of the Boston mob did not end with Patriarca's death. They went after Salemme and his organization next and were able to connect members with multiple counts of extortion, drug charges and many counts of murder. In January, 1995, a RICO indictment was released charging Bulger and others with crimes. The other co-conspirators were arrested, but Bulger, mystifyingly, escaped.

Soon after the indictment came down it became clear how Bulger had managed to evade the law over all those years and how he knew to run when the indictment was issued. Bulger was working as an informant for the FBI. An FBI agent, John Connelly, who also grew up in the South Boston projects, had been brought in to help the organized crime division bring down the Italian Mafia. One of Connelly's techniques was to use his connections in the underworld to recruit informants. Steven "The Rifleman" Flemmi was one of those, as was "Whitey" Bulger.

In return for their information, Connelly promised that the FBI would turn a blind eye to any criminal enterprises Bulger may be involved in. In addition, the FBI tipped Bulger off whenever another agency, like the Massachusetts State Police or the DEA, was trying to build a case against him. So, when the US Attorney was about to release the indictment against Bulger, Connelly tipped him off and gave him a head start on those pursuing him.

Authorities believe Bulger could be anywhere now. They have tracked him all over the country and the world. They believe he was in Britian a few years ago, and they found safe deposit boxes in England and Ireland filled with money.

Agents believe Bulger is staying in a warm climate, and believe he may have to treat a heart condition with a drug called Atenolol.

Thanks to AMW

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Bloom is Off Whitey's Rose

Friends of ours: James "Whitey" Bulger, Kevin Weeks, Stephen "The Rifleman" Flemmi

Probably no one should be surprised that federal authorities would mark the anniversary of Whitey Bulger's disappearance in such a low-key fashion last week. There were no press conferences, no dramatic announcements or updates, just a three-paragraph release assuring the world that the FBI and other agencies remain on the case.

Bulger's former criminal protege, Kevin Weeks, theorized to the Globe's Shelley Murphy that Boston's most legendary mobster has been marooned in Europe since the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, which is probably as valid a theory as we're likely to hear. Weeks, after all, was the mobster's surrogate son.

There's something anticlimactic about these anniversaries, these nonupdates to one of the most dramatic tales in the city's recent history. If there's one thing James J. Bulger never was in his presence, it was monotonous. Yet that is exactly what he has become in his extended absence.

One thing has changed in his decade-plus on the lam: His cult of personality, the blood-soaked romance of his exploits, has utterly collapsed. Few kid themselves anymore that Bulger kept the drugs out of South Boston, or kept its streets safe with his unique brand of do-it-yourself justice. As that image has receded, as the keepers of the flame have faded away and 19 murder indictments are what's left of his legacy, Bulger has come to be seen for what he really is. If he's returned to Boston, it'll be as a serial killer - that's if there's a return at all, which has to be considered less likely than it was a decade ago.

Meanwhile, his exile has taken police on a wild ride from California to Chicago to Uruguay to New Zealand.

I've always been amused by the story of his brief, early-exile stay in Louisiana, where he befriended his neighbors and bought one couple a washing machine before his instincts told him it was time to move on. Just think: For him the ultimate disguise was as a nice guy.

As some predicted at the time of his last vanishing act, Bulger's everyman appearance has proved to be a nightmare for investigators. He has been sighted everywhere, and nowhere. On nearly every continent someone has thought they may have seen him, one dead end after another.

Coincidentally or not, his time in flight has been difficult for many of those close to him. His equally famous brother, William M. Bulger, has left politics and been driven from the presidency of the University of Massachusetts. Another brother, Jackie, is embroiled in a long fight to have his $65,000-a-year state pension restored after his convictions for perjury and obstruction of justice. Former FBI agent John Connolly is serving time on a racketeering conviction, and has been indicted for murder. Stephen "The Rifleman" Flemmi is serving a life sentence and cooperating with the authorities. Weeks, who served five years in prison, is writing a book. When Whitey Bulger went down, a lot of people went with him.

Pity the poor investigators, chasing a man who has been hiding from the police for decades. If there is anyone who knows where and how to hide, it's him.

But that sympathy has to pale next to the suffering of the survivors of his many alleged victims. For them, anniversary is probably too cheery a word to describe these annual reminders of law enforcement futility.

Catching Whitey still matters, of course. Now that the world knows how he manipulated the FBI to facilitate his felonious career, and how thoroughly certain officials sold out their public trust on his behalf, we need the public accounting that only a trial can bring. And there's the more personal accounting, too. His victims -- the survivors of his victims are, themselves, victims -- deserve the day they can face him in court.

Not much is left in Boston of the mob culture that made Whitey Bulger possible. The whole notion has become an anachronism. One of the few remaining pieces is the search for Bulger. His capture will be its epilogue, and it can't come soon enough

Thanks to
Adrian Walker

Friday, November 21, 2003

Former FBI Agent Arrested in Mob Hit

A former FBI agent who handled high-ranking mob informants was arrested Thursday and charged with murder for allegedly helping to set up a 1981 mob hit on an Oklahoma businessman.

H. Paul Rico, 78, was arrested at his home near Miami in the slaying of 55-year-old Roger Wheeler, who was shot in the head at a Tulsa, Okla., country club after a round of golf.

Rico's arrest was the latest turn in a long-running scandal over the cozy relationship between the Boston FBI and its underworld informants. Last year, a former FBI agent was convicted of protecting gangsters, including James “Whitey” Bulger, who is on the FBI's 10 Most Wanted list.

Investigators said Wheeler's slaying was linked to his purchase of World Jai Alai and his suspicion that money was being skimmed from the Florida company. At the time, Rico was retired from the FBI and was the head of security for World Jai Alai.

Investigators said Rico provided John Martorano, a hit man for Boston's Winter Hill Gang, with information on Wheeler's schedule so he could be killed. Martorano admitted pulling the trigger and is awaiting sentencing.

The New York Times reported that Rico asked Martorano to carry out the hit because gang members believed Wheeler had learned $1 million a year was being skimmed from the jai alai operation.

Rico “flat-out categorically denies this,” said his attorney, William Cagney III. “He never assisted the Winter Hill Gang in trying to get inside information so they could ... do away with people.”

Rico was jailed in Florida. Gail Marcinkiewicz, a spokeswoman for the Boston FBI, declined to comment. Rico spent 24 years with the FBI, specializing in organized crime cases in Boston in the 1960s and '70s. He cultivated mobster Stephen “The Rifleman” Flemmi and others as informants.

Bulger, the boss of the Winter Hill Gang, Flemmi and Martorano were all charged in Wheeler's murder in 2001 by Oklahoma prosecutors. District Attorney Tim Harris of Tulsa has said he planned to seek the death penalty against Bulger and Flemmi.

Prosecutors in Florida followed with an indictment charging all three in the 1982 slaying of World Jai Alai executive John “Jack” Callahan in Miami. Investigators said they believe Callahan was killed to keep him from telling authorities about links between World Jai Alai and the mob.

A congressional panel is investigating the Boston FBI office's ties to its mob informants, including Bulger, who fled in 1995 after being tipped off by then-agent John J. Connolly Jr. that he was about to be indicted on federal racketeering charges.

During Connolly's trial, prosecutors said Bulger and Flemmi were left untouched by law enforcement for decades because they were informing for the FBI on the New England Mafia, which is separate from the Winter Hill Gang. Connolly is serving a 10-year prison sentence.

In 2001, Rico testified about another case before a congressional committee. He denied that he and his partner helped framed an innocent man for a 1965 gangland slaying, but acknowledged that Joseph Salvati wrongly spent 30 years in prison for the crime.

Republican Rep. Christopher Shays accused Rico of feeling no remorse for his role in the conviction of four innocent men in that case. Rico replied, “What do you want, tears?"

Salvati's lawyer, Victor Garo, predicted that Rico's arrest will split the Boston FBI scandal wide open, exposing more government wrongdoing in Boston and Washington. "He was the inside man of the Boston office of the FBI in dealing with informants like Steve Flemmi and others,” Garo said. “I would imagine that right now many people are concerned about what he knows and what he will say. ... He knows about all the skeletons in the closet.”

Wheeler's son said he was pleased with Rico's arrest. “It's something I've wanted for years,” said Larry Wheeler, who said he believes Rico played a role in his father's murder.

The ongoing scandal has also damaged the career of one of the state's most legendary politicians, former state Senate president William Bulger, who is the brother of Whitey Bulger. Bulger resigned as president of the University of Massachusetts in August, following months of mounting pressure over his role in the federal investigation of his fugitive brother.

The departure came just two months after UMass trustees expressed confidence in Bulger even as a storm of protest swirled around him and his testimony before a congressional committee investigating the FBI's ties to its mob informants.

He testified under immunity before the panel in June about brother Whitey. While admitting he had spoken to his brother once since he fled, Bulger said he has no idea of his whereabouts and said there is little he could have done to steer him from a life of crime. William Bulger also said he thought the FBI investigators were trying to get his brother killed when they leaked to the media the fact that Whitey Bulger had been an informant.

Bulger's critics said his testimony was evasive and questioned how he could be so ignorant of his brother's criminal activities.


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