Every time I think of the book Whitey, The Life of America’s Most Notorious Mob Boss” I marvel at how some local Boston media folk could turn a mid-level gangster who murdered probably less than a dozen people, and none by himself, and who never ordered anyone to be killed, and turn him into a “Mob Boss.” It was not only Gerard O’Neill and Dick Leher acting as if it were true, it was the whole mob of reporters in the Boston area and beyond.
Not only do they make him “America’s Most Notorious,” these self-styled experts on James “Whitey” Bulger, O’Neill and Lehr,,- ready – are you sitting down — state this: “In the annals of crime in the United States, Whitey Bulger today stands at the front of a line that include John Dillinger, Al Capone, Bonnie Parker and Clyde Barrow, and more recently, John Gotti. His list of victims matches or exceeds that of any other crime boss . . . .”
I know I have mentioned this before, but their comment is so outrageous and belied by the facts that it has to go along with one of the greatest hoaxes ever perpetuated on the public. First, consider this: “who was Whitey’s mob?” Yes, Steve Flemmi and tough guy Kevin Weeks who came in later in his career around 1978 or 1979, after Howie Winter went to prison. Both men were capable of murdering people.
Flemmi, though, had been in the murdering business since the mid-Sixties while Whitey started in the early to mid -1970s. Step back a second and ask yourself was Whitey the boss of Steve Flemmi? They were partners but for anyone to think Flemmi took orders from Whitey they just have not paid attention. In fact, Flemmi to Whitey’s chagrin pretty much walked away from Whitey when Frank Salemme got out of prison. He went into business with him.
According to Jimmy Katz, a guy I arrested and convicted twice, the bookie who was forced to testify at Whitey’s trial under threat that if he did not come clean and testify his wife and children would be evicted from their house and he would go away for a zillion years for practicing his chose occupation, bookmaking, the guy they feared was Steven Flemmi.
When Whitey joined Winter Hill in the late spring of 1972 did he become boss of Winter Hill? Far from it, Howie Winter was the boss until he went to prison in 1978 for extortion. I heard from my cousin Roger, who was at a wedding in Southie, that Winter, Whitey, Brian Halloran and others were also there. When the guests were being seated Whitey tried to sit next to Winter. He was told no by Winter who pointed to another chair. He wanted Halloran to sit there.
Their gang, mob is you prefer, consisted of those three. They forced people to pay tribute to them. They had no one who they could direct to do anything for them along the line of killing others, which is the mark of a mob boss.
Oh, yes, John Martorano. He was supposed to be part. But he was hiding out in Florida for 16 years depending on his buddy Joe Yerardi, another guy I arrested and convicted, who was running his operation to send him money. He did it through George Kaufman.
Martorano said Whitey and Flemmi sent him some money but he complained he never got what was due him. Weeks never mentioned sending him money when he explained how they divided it up. The only people Martorano murdered when he was part of the Whitey/Flemmi mob were Roger Wheeler and John Callahan. These were murders really done at his behest and for his own benefit and not directed by the others.
Truth be told there was no mob: there were three guys who intimidated others because they were known to murder people and a hang around guy. Hardly a mob. Tomorrow I’ll look at what a mob boss really is and look at that line at which Whitey stands at the head.