More Gangster Story – Mobs and Mobsters.

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.



4 thoughts on “More Gangster Story – Mobs and Mobsters.

  1. My faith in the FBI and DOJ was tested in the ’70’s when our office asked us to explore a story that FBI’s Rico and Condon and USA Harrington had traveled to California to act as DEFENSE witnesses for Barbosa who was charged with murdering a man named Wilson there. That seemed so absurd. This was well before internet but a cousin of mine who was a librarian told me of an exchange where libraries could transfer microfiche of newspapers so I asked Quincy Public Library to get Santa Rosa newspapers from library there. George Roach and I arrived at Quincy when the stuff arrived…but neither of us had..a library card! We solved that ( we may have borrowed one from George’s son!) and began searching the film. That was when I lost my faith in the feds!
    As you said Matt, truly disgraceful!

    1. Bill:

      A good recollection. What I always objected to about the FBI and why as you know we had little to do with it was because the agents were totally uncooperative in anything. The agents expected to get things from us but when we sought to get things from them we faced a brick wall. That’s why I turned down the US Attorney Stearn in Boston who asked to have the FBI take over the case involving the murders by John Salve in the clinics on Beacon Street. Bill couldn’t be reached so he spoke with me. Bill liked to keep up relationships so I’m not sure he would have had the same answer but I went ahead anyway. Kivlan had already been sent to Brookline where he grew up so I knew we could handle the matter better than them.

      It was as you say disgraceful for Harrington, Rico and Condon to be out west begging that Joe”the Animal” Barboza who had already murdered several people and was being charged with another murder while in the witness protection program be given a break.

  2. Hi Matt and thanks for an interesting article as I enjoyed reading it.

    1. Do you believe that it was Wimpy Bennett and Buddy McLean were federal informants at one point or another and it was Bennett who helped to recruit Flemmi into the top echelon informant program?

    2. Do you think that it was wrong of John Connolly to give the names of the sources that were used to bug the Mafia induction ceremony such as Mercurio and the Rhode Island Mobster known as the Saint to Kevin Weeks and by extension Flemmi and Salemme?

    3. Why did Whitey not like Flemmi hanging around with Salemme?

    1. David:

      1. I have a hard time believing what any of the gangsters have said. Martorano for instance tells lie after lie just making things up as does Weeks and Nee. Even Salemme when being briefed by the government is lying and the top liar is Flemmi. There is a lot of speculation among the gangsters that Buddy and Bennett were informants but nothing close to proof. Why would the FBI need Bennett when it had Steve Flemmi? He knew everything Bennett was doing. I know there’s the old story that at the meetings of the communists in the 1950s that half of the people there were FBI informants but I don’t see that going over to the gangsters. As for Buddy, what could he offer that the FBI was interested in? After the Apalachin meeting they wanted to get the Mafia so they were smart enough to know the way into them was through Italians which was why they treasured Stevie Flemmi. I have seen nothing to show either man was an informant for the FBI.

      2. Obviously it was wrong for Connolly to be helping Flemmi, and by extension Salemme, Martorano and others, beat the charges against him in federal court. He might have been a retired FBI agent but he is still getting retirement money as such so I would expect he would not be trying to undercut a government case having spent 22 years as an FBI agent. Was it a crime for him to disclose the identity of FBI informants to mobsters, perhaps not. After all Agents John Morris and Robert Fitzpatrick disclosed to the Globe that Whitey was an informant and nothing happened to them. It really goes to the moral character of a person. When we dealt with informants we took seriously our word to them that their identities were not to be disclosed other than to a specific other person, usually the officer in charge of the unit. When Captain Mattioli took over the State Police Special Service Unit trooper John Naimovich came to me saying Mattioli wanted to know the identity of his informants. At the time Mattioli was working with the FBI trying to undermine Naimovich. I told Naimovich he could not disclose his informants identity to him unless he advised his informants that he was going to do it.

      3. At the trial of Whitey Detective Lieutenant Billy McDermott of the Brookline Police testified about meetings between Flemmi and Salemme of which he took and introduced photographs. These were taking place in Brookline. What struck me was that Whitey was never at those meetings so he really had no idea what Flemmi was up to which made him uncomfortable. Whitey did not like Flemmi handing around with Salemme because he feared him becoming closer to Salemme because of their long history going back to their growing up in Roxbury. Whitey really depended on Flemmi for his muscle and without him his mob would have consisted of himself and Kevin Weeks. Flemmi and Salemme at first were making good money of which Whitey was getting nothing.

Comments are closed.