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Monthly Archives: December 2012
I noted yesterday the so-called war between the Killeen and Mullen gangs started in July, 1969. Using the word war to describe this conflict seems to be greatly exaggerating what occurred. It was more what we’d call a small gang fight with a few guns thrown in. It seems there were less than a dozen active participants on each side. One newspaper article stated the Boston police said the Mullen gang had 60 members but if true, which seems unlikely. I’d suggest it had less active participants in the shootings than the number of days in a week.
Another strange aspect of this fight is the territory in which it took place, South Boston. Southie is divided into three small sections: City Point, the area generally to the east of Dorchester Street which is about 1/2 mile wide and one mile in length and includes the beaches and water front; the Lower End, to the west of Dorchester Street an area of 1/2 mile by 1/2 mile bordering the railroad tracks and the South End; and the third is around Andrew Square including the Old Colony and Old Harbor Village projects which is even of a less area than the Lower End. These are densely populated postage stamp-size areas and it is hard to see how the combatants were not constantly bumping into each other. It seems clear that they all knew each other, at least by sight.
Sometime between July and November 1969, Billy O’Sullivan and Whitey ran into Buddy Roache, a Mullen, in a Southie bar room or had a sit down meeting with him at a lounge, depending on whose version is believed. O’ Sullivan and Roache got into a heated argument which resulted in O’Sullivan taking out his .22 caliber and shooting Roache in the shoulder. The bullet came out through Roache’s spine and he ended up being paralyzed for life.
I had to go back to Ralph Ranalli’s book Deadly Alliance which I recommended in the early days of this blog to refresh my recollection about an FBI report. Ranalli wrote one of the earliest of the Bulger books which he put together after attending the hearing held by Judge Wolf in late 1997 and 1998. It is a general overview by a good writer that is off the mark in several important areas. Since I started a more in-depth study of these matter and gained a greater insight, Ranalli pretty much puts out the black and white government and media mindset that everything relating to Bulger is evil, although he does suggest the FBI is no slacker when it comes to doing evil deeds.
It is little wonder because many of his sources are media people, prosecutors and their investigators. Ranalli lists his five most helpful sources. First is the FBI agent Robert Fitzpatrick who broke his solemn duty of protecting an informant’s identity by divulging to the media that Bulger was an informant. He wrote an inane book full of inaccuracies. He clearly demonstrated he hated all things Bulger. His description of a meeting with Billy Bulger would border on the hilarious if it wasn’t written by a person who at the time was an Assistant Agent in Charge of the Boston FBI office which makes it tragic. The other four most helpful sources were two investigators of the Roger Wheeler homicide in Tulsa, Oklahoma, and two attorneys for the gangsters, Tony Cardinale, who represented Frank Salemme, and Ken Fishman, who represented Steve Flemmi, the latter two with obvious anti-Bulger biases.
I am anxiously awaiting the decision on Motel Caswell. That case is pending in the Federal District Court of Massachusetts under the name United States v. 434 Main Street, Tewksbury, Massachusetts. It is the case where the federal government is trying to steal a motel from a guy who has had it in the family since the 1950s on the grounds there has been one drug deal in that hotel over each of the last twelve years. Russ Caswell knew nothing about the drug dealings or that the town had a problem with him. The town of Tewskbury and the DEA conspired together to take it from him. The town can get 80% of its value which is estimated around 1.5 million and buy new police cars or even get one of those armored SWAT vehicles. Russ in his 60s who was working his butt off trying to make ends meet will lose his livelihood and retirement. I wrote about this before here.
The Annie Dookhan saga continues with felons being released from prison and the prosecutors, investigators, courts, and defenders demanding more money to do their jobs. It has sort of faded into the background other than seeing the AG has indicted Annie Dookhan for 17 counts of obstruction of justice and ten other charges including perjury. Her lawyer complained her 6 pm curfew was interfering with her social life so it was extended until 10:00 p.m. Annie’s thoughtless, selfish and stupid actions are going to cost that tax payer well into the hundred of millions of dollars. The case is scheduled for a conference in February.
The year Whitey gets out of prison in 1965 saw the end of the so-called Irish Gang war sometimes called the Boston gang war. Legend has it that it began on Labor Day weekend at Salisbury Beach in 1961. Like the Trojan War, it was all over a woman.
It was a brutal affair of mindless street killings where dozens of gangsters were gunned down on the streets of Boston and surrounding communities. It involved a Charlestown group of hoodlums headed by the McLaughlin brothers and a Somerville group of like-minded individuals headed by Buddy McLean. Each group had other local area gangsters join in the shooting from time to time. The North End (Boston’s mafia group) closely watched the battle but mainly sat on the side lines happy that its competition appeared to be decimating itself.
The cops seemed singularly ineffective in enforcing the law, although it was believed one or two were quite helpful to one side or the other. Again legend has it that FBI Agent Paul Rico set up one hit. He then let the person who did the hit live in his cellar until the heat died down.
Well known characters as Frankie Salemme worked on the side of the Somerville gang while also free lancing for the Raymond L.S. Patriarca, the head (Salemme called him a “king”) of the Patriarca Mafia Family in New England. He’d eventually become a king’s man and a king in the Mafia. John “Murderman” Martorano and Stevie Flemmi also got caught up in this free-for-all.
Re-Examining Whitey Bulger: The Four Seasons: Early Years, Learning Years, Boss Years, Gathering Years: Part Five
The Thirty Years of Whitey Bulger’s life I’ve broken into four parts. I’m doing this for the purpose of trying to determine for myself if Whitey is the worst of the worst criminals or has been given that identity by people who have ulterior motives in elevating him to a status far beyond what he deserves. The Early Years (1965-1972) and The Learning Years (1973-1977) that I spoke about yesterday ended when Howie Winter went off to prison. Then followed the Boss Years (1978-1988) and the Gathering Years (1989-1995)
The Boss Years as I indicated were made possible by his connection to the FBI. Whitey had been opened as an FBI informant on May 13, 1971 by Agent Dennis Condon. This was during the Killeen/Mullins gang war. Billy O’Sullivan and Whitey were the two big gunmen in the Killeen gang. O’Sullivan, the father of six kids, was gunned down around midnight by three of the Mullins in Savin Hill on March 28, 1971. This was allegedly in retribution for O’Sullivan having killed Donald McGonagle in November of 1969. Whitey was also thought to have been with O’Sullivan when McGonagle was killed.
I’d surmise that when Whitey saw his fellow enforcer for the Killeens had gone down, he figured it was time for him to seek out some additional protection. He probably sought out Condon to feel him out. Later when the danger passed or he felt more in control, he walked away from him. Four months later Condon closed him out. Also closed out, but still carried as an informant by Condon and his partner Agent Paul Rico was Stevie Flemmi who was hiding up in Montreal.
I’m reviewing Whitey’s life to determine if his reputation as the most evil of criminals is justified rather than being erroneously posited to us by people who need us to accept it as true. I’ve run through his time up to getting released from prison in 1965 and suggested the next 30 years are the times within which he has made his reputation. Prior to 1965 the worst that could be said of him was he robbed a handful of banks, was caught, and did nine years, some of it hard time, before he got out in ‘65.
As of January 1995 Whitey was a man on the lam for 16 years unconnected with the Boston scene. He traveled over parts of the U.S. finally settling in Santa Monica, California. He lived in a multi-apartment building with his female friend, Catherine Greig, in a third floor walk up with the covered windows that blocked prying eyes from looking in and the inhabitants from seeing out. They lived with little contact with others in a hermit-like existence, hardly one step up from being confined in a cell with conjugal visits.
He was imprisoned by the money hidden in the walls ever fearful of its loss to criminals like himself limiting his ability to make forays from his hole-up. The pillow he put his head on never gave a decent night’s sleep. He depended on an arsenal of guns including military-type weapons that he would never use to maintain what he thought was his freedom. Now he probably sleeps better at night in the Plymouth County jail than he did in Santa Monica where he allegedly stayed up at night peeking out the window at threatening spectres.
When the country was established one of the greatest ideas of the Founding Fathers was the way to deal with the issue of religion. It was the recognition that you have to stay out of a person’s thought process. I should be able to believe X and practice the doctrines of X as long as they don’t impede the ability of others who believe and follow the practices of Y and Z. However, there are some things that you are not allowed to do no matter what you believe which may endanger the public health and welfare of all. These founders recognized they could not have created a country if one religion was going to dominate over others.
I do have to think that one thing they could never have foreseen is that the nine justices on the highest court of the land would be members of religions that were not present at the founding. These are my thoughts around Christmas where many celebrate the holiday and many others don’t and we have the constant Christmas wars with some wanting more displays of it and others finding offense in the displays. Fortunately it is played out in non violent ways and is quickly forgotten a day or two after Christmas except for the ongoing court battles.
How bad is Whitey?
When he’s arrested for the three bank robberies, the Boston Globe on March 5, 1956, noted Bulger first came to the attention of authorities in 1948 when he was arrested in Southie for an attempted criminal assault. What happened after that is pretty easy to understand if you knew how things operated back in those days. I happen to know this because my father was chief probation officer in Dorchester. Things like this couldn’t happen now because of all the formalities we’ve introduced into our system.
When a kid like Whitey was brought into the court either the clerk or chief probation officer would pull him aside and say, “look sonny, you got a choice, jail or the service.” They’d give the kid a few days to make up his mind. If the kid opted for the service they’d destroy his criminal record. My father told us on many occasions that these men came back and to thank him for what he did. They were able to get on jobs where a criminal record would have disqualified them.
Whitey went off to the Air Force where he served four years. For restless youth living on the cusp of a criminal life the service was a growing up time with its discipline, the structure teaching responsibility, and the chance to work and play with other Americans. That is the true melting pot where the ingredients have to blend and the sharp edges of prejudices are toned down. Most came out with a different attitude and went on to college and a law-abiding life. Then there were the Whiteys.
The little lie about Whitey being an informant adds to the picture of his evilness. Not content with fabricating this conclusion, the media then reached out for another gangster to tell him Whitey informed against him back in the Fifties. The method of doing this was eye-opening.
But what tipped the scale was the scurrilous attack on Father Drinan, the Dean of Boston College Law School, who Whitey reached out to in the first few months after starting his 20 year prison sentence. Then the media contacted past associates of Father Drinan and suggested he was somehow in league with Whitey duping these naïve people into expressing horror that Father Drinan had so acted. All of this press hysteria spreading and cementing a belief in Whitey’s evilness and the suggestion that it was aided and abetted by members of the Catholic clergy showed its ability to turn a piece of straw into a castle when it came to Whitey.
I began to sense something with the whole Whitey story is not right. The over-the-top attack on Whitey was made clear when Dick Lehr who posits himself as Whitey’s biographer absurdly opined that the Bulger brothers (Billy was then in college) were making a “beachhead” with Father Drinan. When a simple act of a young man reaching out to a priest for help is turned into a conspiracy to set up an evil empire, I had to stop and ask whether I was being snookered.
Maybe it wasn’t the light tapping of a far off drum but a big bass drum banging boldly on my brain that made me stop. I began to think that if these people could make such serious errors out of so simple situations what have they done in the past with their writings. There is almost total unanimity that Whitey Bulger is Public Enemy Number 1. He was put on the FBI’s Top Ten Criminals next to Osama bin Laden. How did he ever get to deserve this notoriety to climb so high?
The Start Of A Re-Examination Of Whitey Bulger: What Is The Source Of Our Belief He Is Ichiban Criminal?
I know this will sound odds from a guy who has a site called “thetrialofwhiteybulger.com.” Obviously, I selected that name because I knew of the great interest in the master criminal Whitey Bulger, the Professor Moriarty of our time, throughout my country if not internationally. I bought into the idea that Whitey was this unique criminal, the Napoleon of crime, who was the genius of all things bad and despicable. I would have been very happy to leave it that way had I not become more involved in this matter.
As I dug into these things about Whitey certain items I discovered forced me to reconsider many of my previously held beliefs. More and more I began to wonder whether I have been sold a pig in a poke. Have I and a multitude of others been led on a merry chase down the wrong road because it became in the best interest of some to to divert our attention from the truth of the matter? Am I moving with the herd in a stampede in a headlong plunge into a deep canyon of ignorance and convenience?
These little voices of dissent that arise from some of the corners of the Whitey story seem not to be heard by most others. Why is it I am having some doubts and slowing down when all others seem to be of one mind rushing ahead? What should I do? Go along or question my assumptions by reexamining them. It reminds me of what Henry David Thoreau said many years ago: “If a man loses pace with his companions, perhaps it is because he hears a different drummer. Let him step to the music which he hears, however measured, or far away.”