Billy Shea who just testified probably knew Whitey as well as any person who will testify. He’s a life long Southie guy except for the last few years when he got an immunity letter from the government that forced him to testify and he ended up in the witness protection program.
He tells of going to Walpole prison in 1970 for an armed robbery. He’s about thirty at that point and he stays in there until 1977. He tells of getting out in November of that year and he’s hanging around with the 5th Street Crew, the guys at 5th and D Street, who were viewed as violent and dangerous. He says Whitey is having tension with that crew.
By that time the Mullen’s crew is no longer around so these are different wise guys. Whitey gives Billy Shea $500 to help him out around Christmas time and to, according to Billy, help him make peace with that Crew. He then has to make a living and Whitey gets him involved with loan sharking with Jack Curran. He tells how he and Whitey got along all right because both had done time.
Billy said Whitey ran the neighborhood and you never did anything there without his permission. He went to Whitey to get permission to set up and after hours card game. He knew if Whitey said OK then it’d work out.
He told how he saw all these guys walking around Southie with rolls of 100s in their pocket and figured they needed protection. So he, Freddy Weichel and Thomas Nee, the latter two known to be dangerous guys would go around and do a dog and pony show with all the independent drug dealers. They would ask the dealer to step in the car and one of them would have an automatic pistol and the others would say to him put that away. That was just to set the atmosphere.
Shea would say its daylight now and if we don’t resolve this you’ll be seeing us the next time at night and that’s if you see us coming. They were able to make sure there were no more independents. He said they didn’t want to scare them out of business because they would lose a source of money but just explain all the benefits of coming in and joining with them.
Whitey did not want to be connected with the drug business. Shea said he never saw any of the product himself when it came to cocaine, he left that up to Joe Tower the previous witness. He said during the dog and pony show they never mentioned Whitey’s name. Whitey took a weekly pay check going from 4.000 up to 8,000 or 10,000 thousand. He said if anyone went to Whitey to complain, no one would ever mention drugs, but just say he was being leaned on. Whitey would tell the person Shea is a friend of his and is dangerous so he better go along with him.
He said he always paid “Jim” each week because Jim would stop by his house. Sometimes he’d stay a while, other times not. He said he could always reason with Jim. They had their disagreements but were always able to work them out.
He talked about going up to M Street with $170,000 to meet a guy who was going to deliver high-grade cocaine. Jim wanted him to go into the house and he wouldn’t do it. He said having been in prison he knows about trap doors and he got paranoid. He knew Stevie Flemmi, who he called a very, very dangerous guy, Kevin Weeks, and maybe Pat Nee were in there. He refused. Jim (Whitey) understood because he’d been in prison. They had the guy come down. It was Joe Murray, Pat Nee’s connection, who he’d eventually do business with.
He said he kept trying to get out of the business after 6 or 7 years but Whitey wouldn’t let him telling him the business would fall apart without him. He kept going to Florida to show Whitey it wouldn’t. But Whitey kept insisting. He said one time Whitey got angry at him and said to him remember what happened to Bucky Barrett. He knew Bucky had disappeared. He said that was the only time Whitey threatened him. Shea said when people do that to him he does the opposite since he doesn’t take too kindly to being threatened. The worst thing about the threat, he said, was he did it in front of someone else, Pat Linsky, and that was embarrassing.
He then told a riveting story about going back to Florida and coming back again and having Whitey, Stevie Flemmi and Kevin Weeks show up at his house and tell him to take a ride with them. He went upstairs in his house and got a small gun and he’d never really carried before. They drove over to the D Street housing project which was being renovated so no one was around. He and Whitey got out of the car and they walked into a vacant building.
He said Whitey wanted to go down the cellar. He then said I don’t know if many of you people know what it’s like going down into a project cellar but it’s like going down into a coffin with cement walls on all sides. Whitey was in front of him but he pushed ahead of him. When he reached the bottom he put his back to the wall so he could see Whitey and also over Whitey’s shoulder to see if Stevie was coming. He watched Whitey’s hand. He said his heart was pumping. He knew Whitey carried a knife in his boot. If he reached for it he was going to go for his gun.
They talked. He remembers Whitey talking about trust. He reminded him that he took a fall in ’83 and didn’t talk. He didn’t do time back then as the two others had done because he had a better lawyer. As they talked he could see Whitey relaxing. “Jim said, ‘Come on let’s get out of here,’ and we left.”
Whitey took him in there to kill him but changed his mind. Good he did because Billy was not going down alone. Whitey asked him if he needed a ride, he said he’d walk. He saw him one other time when he was out with his four-year old boy for a walk in Old Colony. Whitey and Stevie were there. All the old fears came back but Whitey walked over to him and said they were only there by coincidence, it had nothing to do with him.
He has Whitey laughing when he was telling how much money he was making in the cocaine business and suggested that Whitey was probably sitting there in court thinking of how much money they cheated him out of.
He pretty much filled in the picture both the prosecutors and Carney want to show. Whitey got a lot of money for providing protection for the drug dealers. As far as the case goes he was a wash, but he did show Whitey was not an ogre as many have painted him and had a good side to him.