Last Thursday I was beating the old drum telling how one of the greatest hoaxes perpetrated on the gullible American public, you know those people who like gangster stories like those in the Godfather series, or the Sopranos, or the Goodfellas, was that Whitey Bulger was the real deal gangster.
One of the most intriguing parts of his story is that he bought into the con himself. He believed he was this big mobster when he was only a guy who carried a gun and liked to threaten people when he had a helper by his side. Unlike most Southie guys who were tough, he never got in the ring to fight one against one. I noted yesterday he had no mob. His gang was Steve Flemmi, Kevin Weeks and himself, and perhaps a guy in Florida named Martorano.
The latter wrote a book proclaiming himself on the cover as “Whitey Bulger’s Enforcer and the Most Feared Gangster in the Underworld.” How could that be when he was in Florida during the time Whitey operated in South Boston. There’s not one case he can point to where he enforced anything for Whitey. Some may suggest the murders of Paulie McGonagle and Tommy King who were Whitey’s rivals in South Boston. But Whitey was not his boss at the time, it was Howie Winter. And, a close look at these murders suggest it was not Martorano who did the murders but another guy from Southie who betrayed his buddies to become Whitey’s Southie partner.
As far as being the most feared gangster, that must have caused a lot of chuckles among the real gangsters. Of course they were very glad for him to put that mantle on his head, they would prefer to remain anonymous. Whitey at the front of the line of all gangsters, Martorano the most feared gangster, what a small world Boston is putting out such nonsense.
According to the writer of the book, The Boston Mob Guide, “The gangland war turned into a lucrative deal for the three unlikely pals: [Frank] Salemme, [Steve] Flemmi and Joe “the Animal” Barboza, the three most deadly serial killers in the New England History.” You might wonder where’s Whitey? Or, perhaps where is the most feared gangster Martorano? If they are not there, then they could not be all that the media wrote about them.
There’s a place called the Mob Museum in Las Vegas. It listed the top five most notorious mob hitmen. In order from number one, “Machine Gun” Jack McGurn, Abe “Twist” Reles, Roy DeMeo, Joe “The Animal” Barboza and Giovanni Brusca. It said this about Barboza: “In the 1960s, when Patriarca allied his smaller Providence-based gang with Irish and independent ethnic mobsters, the bloody McLean-McLaughlin gang war raged in Boston. In 1965, in desperate need of hitmen and enforcers to gain control for his Mob family in Boston, Patriarca recruited Barboza. The 34-year-old used his talents to blunt the work of the independents. He claimed to have killed 26 people during the more than three-year war that claimed nearly 50 lives.”
According to one reporter, the murder of a guy when he was in the witness protection program “was the 26th murder committed by Barboza that the FBI knew about […]The FBI believed that he’d already committed 26 murders.” Of course that like most other things about these gangsters is a lot of foolishness.
Barbosa was born in September 1932. He became a federal witness at age 34 in 1966. If he were recruited by Patriarca in 1965 he did not have much of a career. Even less so when on October 4, 1966 he was arrested with a gun in a car. He was held without bail until January 27, 1966, when he was sentenced to four to five years at Walpole. He was in prison other times also. His time on the street was limited. A close study of Barbosa is he probably killed fewer then ten people.
Consider this however. The FBI took this person labeled as “the Animal” and knowingly allowed him to lie at a trial where people were sentenced to death. It then protected him; after he killed another person it went to bat for him. Truly disgraceful. And by the way, this was not a rogue operation. It was approved at the level of J. Edgar Hoover.