No one asks these people, “What do you know of those investigations that were being conducted?” Or, more basically, “How many criminal investigations have you been involved in?” It’s the audacity of these people to aver to something of which they have no knowledge that smarts me.
That is so because I was in the DAs office and worked for years investigating organized crime. I knew what was going on. I did more wiretaps than all the other prosecutors in the state including the federal prosecutors combined for several years in a row. I know this because we were required to file with the federal government reports of these activities.
But if you don’t accept my word, accept that of Whitey. There are numerous reports on file by Agent Connolly where Whitey complains about only one district attorney’s office he said was harassing him. That was the Norfolk District’s Attorney’s office where I worked. He continually asserted we had a launched a vendetta against him. The animosity toward us was because of the electronic surveillance we had done and were doing against his operations. When Detective Dick Bergeron went to retrieve an electronic bug Whitey had found in his car Whitey lashed out at the Norfolk DAs office. If any entity in Massachusetts could ill afford to displease the Senate president who had control over its budget it was a district attorney’s office.
I was on the inside. I investigated Whitey without giving a moment’s thought to Billy. I obviously knew Billy and Whitey were brothers but I never associated them with each other as I did my duties as a prosecutor. Maybe it was because I grew up in a neighborhood where in one family one brother was in prison and the others were a cop, a doctor or a priest. It wasn’t unusual to have families with criminals and law-abiding siblings. No one attributed the acts of the criminal to the other brothers, each was considered as an individual.
I worked with the top investigators in the Commonwealth who were intent on eradicating organized crime groups. Not once did I ever hear any of these detectives suggest any connection between Whitey and Billy or that somehow we should not go after Whitey because of Billy. It wasn’t even mentioned as a joke because it wasn’t a realistic consideration.
People have based their belief on people who write fiction under the pretense they are biographers or professors asserting things far beyond their ken. They had no idea what was occurring in our investigations. In the late ’70s and early ’80s I worked with the Quincy police and an elite squad headed by Captain Dave Rowell which made extensive efforts to go after Whitey. In the mid-80s Dick Bergeron of that unit working with the DEA placed electronic bugs in his car and in his condo in Quincy. None of them ever felt constrained by Billy Bulger being the president of the Senate. Nor did anyone I worked with in the state police, another agency whose budget could have been affected by Billy, suggest that there might be repercussions from him if we went after Whitey.
These false innuendos that somehow Billy’s position protected Whitey are made up merely because of their sibling relationship. Unfortunately, they’ve been picked up by some Johnny-come-lately cops who weren’t around when the action was happening. Nothing Billy ever did impeded any state investigation of Whitey.
That’s the plain and simple truth. Whitey wasn’t arrested because of two things. The FBI protected him. It created this inane program called the Top Echelon Informant program which still exists today, the gist of which is that the FBI will protect some high level gangsters who will help them go after other high level gangsters. In Boston it protected at least two Winter Hill gang leaders, Whitey and Stevie Flemmi, so that it could go after the Mafia.
The other thing that protected Whitey was his extreme disciplined. He didn’t drink or do drugs. He maintained a low profile preferring the cover of night to hide his actions. I intercepted Stevie Flemmi and Whitey in one telephone conversation out of the tens of thousand I intercepted. Whitey said about a half-dozen words about being back in town. Stevie’s equally laconic reply was little more than “OK.” They didn’t expose themselves.
Just as Billy’s success turned Whitey into a larger than life gangster; so did the notoriety of Whitey allow Billy to be turned into a corrupt politician. The two were locked into a death embrace. They were turned into different sides of the same coin by ignorant people looking for easy answers.
What Billy couldn’t do, as was demanded by Congress, the pretender to the presidency and the media was to turn on his brother. We’ve all heard the expression that “A prophet is honored everywhere except in his own hometown and among his own family.” That is because those closest to a person know her in a different light than those who did not grow up with her and met her later. The Whitey that Billy knows is not the one the media tells us about. How then could he be expected to turn on him?
Billy believed firmly in what is mentioned in the Bible, in Proverbs 3.3 — Do not let loyalty and faithfulness forsake you; bind them around your neck, write them on the tablet of your heart. Billy had no choice. Whitey was his brother. He did nothing to help him but he could not condemn him as others demanded he do even if it cost him the presidency of a university.
Billy is Billy and Whitey is Whitey. Their connection to each other is as brothers but in no other way. Billy led an exemplary life as a public servant an honorific title which is much belittled today by the narrow-minded who forget that Washington, Jefferson, Lincoln, Roosevelt and others who made our country what it is today bore the same title proudly. Billy is also a faithful and loving husband and a caring father.
Whitey was none of those things. He was a public enemy engaged in a life of living outside the law. But in the end he was Billy’s brother. Billy never believed much what was said about him and he never lost hope that whatever may have been true he could change him. For that he has been reviled. He should have been praised.