I have been traveling and have not been able to post anything while I was on the road. Hope you enjoy this update to the Whitey Bulger story- a verdict is expected soon.
Welcome back. Although the closing arguments of Whitey Bulger’s trial, which I attended, concluded Monday, today I’m in New York City following another unsolved murder case.
Throughout the Bulger trial I met and visited with dozens of victims, lawyers and special FBI agents and investigators assigned to the case so this week I’m bringing you my impressions of the proceedings.
The FBI called it “Operation Lobster” and much of the work was done by the C-3 unit which is the organized crime squad of the Boston FBI. During the days I spent sitting in the courtroom (via TV in an adjacent room) agents like Joseph Kelly and Robert Fitzpatrick told stories about the corrupt FBI agents and Boston policemen who were on Whitey’s payroll. Murder, extortion and drug dealing were all mentioned, along with kidnapping and money laundering. The Winter Hill gang which Whitey ran from the late ‘60s until he eluded capture and went on the lamb in 1994, ran the Boston crime scene.
In the recently released book “The Rifleman” by author Howie Carr, Whitey’s longtime partner in crime, Steve “the Rifleman” Flemmi describes how he and many other members of the Winter Hill Gang killed and disposed of more than 50 people. Their murder victims weren’t just fellow criminals; anyone who stood in their way would get wacked. People were shot, strangled and even bombed. Gang members went as far as pulling people’s teeth out to torture them before death and prevent their identification.
The gang stopped at nothing to control their territory. A brave man, Carr himself had been threatened numerous times before the publication of his books about the Winter Hill Gang including “The Brothers Bulger.”
On the stand the special agents also told about the informants they developed to infiltrate the gang. The informants were given secret code names such as P1 and P2 to protect them but because of corrupt cops many of the informants were killed anyway. Agent John Connolly, now spending 40 years in a Florida prison, set up many of these victims to meet their deaths.
Steve Davis, whose sister Debra was Flemmi’s longtime girlfriend, told me several stories about Whitey that will be included in a documentary that is coming out soon about the gang. Debra was choked to death by Whitey and Flemmi and her younger sister Michelle was raped by Flemmi. Michelle was a minor at the time and later committed suicide.
Steve was in the courtroom everyday during the trial and he and I visited several times. I am working on a piece about everything Steve and his family have been through which should be done soon and you won’t want to miss it.
I also had the chance to speak with Whitey’s lawyer, J.W. Carney, Jr. whom I met in the parking lot of the federal courthouse where the trial was being held. The question on everyone’s mind was whether or not Whitey would take the stand. Carney told me it would be Whitey’s decision alone and by now the whole world knows he decided not to testify.
On Friday, which was the last day of testimony, Carney called John Martorano to the stand. Martorano is another associate of Whitey’s who had previously been convicted of 20 other murders. He testified that Flemmi told him he had choked Debra Davis although in previous testimony Flemmi had said that Whitey strangled her in front of him.
Other witnesses testified about the boatloads of marijuana that the gang had brought into Boston, receiving a million dollars for each load. Their trafficking in cocaine reportedly brought Whitey himself $10,000 a week.
Another dramatic piece of testimony was expected from former Bulger associate Patrick Nee who could have revealed additional details about the gang’s murderous activities. Because Nee had his own problems with the law, U.S. District Court Judge Denise J. Casper ruled that he could the Fifth Amendment to avoid incriminating himself during cross examination by Assistant U.S. Attorney Fred Wyshak and he did.
Following Monday’s closing arguments dozen’s of reporters await the jury’s ruling which as of today has not yet been announced. Next week more on Whitey and my mission to New York. Till then I’ll see ya down the road…
P.S. I have just learned that my friend Rubyane Burkhart Surritte’s recipe for Blue Ribbon Pecan Pie is featured in this month’s issue of Saveur Magazine. Check it out!