I was fascinated by this story about another long time fugitive with ties to Oklahoma…..
Down The Road with the Original Buffalo Dale
Welcome back. According to the L.A. Times, James “Whitey” Bulger reportedly started his life of crime hijacking delivery trucks in the 1950s before he was captured and sent to prison on Alcatraz Island. After his release from Alcatraz he joined the powerful Winter Hill gang in Boston where he and his chief ally Stephen “The Rifleman” Flemmi quickly seized control, running the rackets, shake downs and drug deals for over 40 years. Then in 1994, facing a federal indictment and years in prison, Whitey vanished. FBI Agent John J. “Zip” Connolly had tipped him off to the indictment and later did prison time himself as a result.
17 years later, after following up on leads in 19 countries and spending thousands of dollars, the FBI’s relentless efforts paid off when they arrested Whitey at apartment 303 in the Princess Eugenia apartment building in Santa Monica, California where he been all along, living under the name of Charles Gasko. His arrest resulted after the FBI aired 350 public service announcements offering a 2 million dollar reward for his capture.
The ads weren’t directed at Whitey but at his 60 year old girlfriend who had been a dental hygienist before she met him. She was known to frequent beauty salons and just a couple of days after the ads with her description started running a tip came in that led to the Princess Eugenia.
Bulger faces federal charges in Massachusetts of racketeering, murder, conspiracy to commit murder, drug dealing, extortion and money laundering. He is also charged with murder in Florida and in Oklahoma where he has been linked to the 1981 death of Roger Wheeler who was gunned down in broad daylight after playing golf at Southern Hills Country Club.
Inside Bulger’s apartment FBI agents found 822,198 dollars, most of it in hundred dollars bills hidden inside the walls which had allowed him and his girlfriend Catherine Gray (aka Carol Gasko) to live quite comfortably. They also found thirty guns which Whitey told agents he had carried when he traveled back to Boston on several occasions “to take care of unfinished business.” He also told them that he had gone to San Diego where he crossed over the border into Tijuana, Mexico to buy medicine. He claimed that he had “previously stashed money with people he trusted” but did not name names.
Bulger has been the subject of several books and in the 2006 Martin Scorsese film “The Departed” starring Leonardo Di Caprio and Jack Nicholson, Nicholson plays a Bulger like character.
He was quickly extradited back to Boston where according to papers filed by U.S. Attorney Carmen Ortiz Federal prosecutors plan to put the 81 year old crime boss on trial “as soon as possible.” They are also analyzing the two cell phones found in Bulger’s apartment to find out if he had help during his 17 years as a fugitive.
Bulger is said to have boasted that he corrupted 6 FBI agents and more than 20 police officers and in sworn testimony his right hand man, Kevin Weeks, said the gang boss stuffed envelopes with cash around the holidays saying that “Christmas is for cops and kids.”
Trial dates for Bulger are being set now and his girlfriend ‘s next court appearance is scheduled for September 29th after she pled not guilty to helping him evade authorities, a crime that carries a maximum penalty of 5 years.
According to federal indictments compiled by the L.A. Times staff writer Victoria Kim Bulger is believed to have been involved in the following string of murders:
March and April 1973: Michael Milano, Al Plummer, William O’Brien, James Leary and Joseph Notorangeli, members of a rival gang.
December 1973: former associate James O’Toole
February 1974: Al Notorangeli, leader of a rival gang
October 1974: James Sousa, criminal associate
November 1974: Paul McGonagle, member of the Mullins gang
June 1975: Edward Connors, potential witness
November 1975: Thomas King, member of Bulger’s gang
December 1976: Richard Castucci, FBI informant
May 1981: Roger Wheeler, owner of the gambling operation World Jai Alai in Tulsa, Oklahoma
Late 1981: Debra Davis, girlfriend of Bulger associate Stephen Flemmi
May 1982: Brian Halloran, FBI informant on the Wheeler killing and Michael Donahue who was riding in the car with Halloran
August 1982: John B. Callahan, former President of World Jai Alai who could implicate Bulger in Wheeler’s death
July 1983: Arthur “Bucky’ Barrett, alleged safecracker and bank robber whom Bulger targeted for extortion.
November 1984: John McIntyre who was cooperating with law enforcement on the gang’s involvement in shipments of arms and ammunition to the Irish Republican Army.
Early 1985: Deborah Hussey, Flemmi’s stepdaughter.
Authorities in Oklahoma are waiting their turn to get their hands on Whitey and have filed the paperwork to have him extradited back here if he lives long enough.
Up next my report from Telluride on the films and film stars I saw at the festival.
Till then I’ll see ya down the road…..