Both were born in the Thirsty Thirties when after thirteen years the failed experiment of imposing morals through the Constitution by those who poo-pooed the habits of the Irish and German immigrants finally admitted failure. The main result of ther noble efforts was the enriching of the Mafia and setting the table for the fortune of the father of the 35th president of the United States when the 21st Amendment repealed the Eighteenth. Joe took full advantage of the new found freedom to legally quench one’s thirst.
In one corner, the one stained badly by the blood of others, is Steve Flemmi. Opposite him in a corner is his life-long buddy Frank Salemme.
The Salemme/Flemmi contest comes at a time the air is filled with rumors that the 22nd Amendment may be the next repealed. These two hoodlums grew up in the Roxbury section of Boston binding in the Fifties over their idea they were tough guys because of their willingness to kill people.
They were members of a Roxbury gang of hoodlums which unlike another Roxbury gang, the Red Raiders, had no interests in sports. They were heavily involved in the misnamed Irish gang wars of the 1960s working both sides (McLaughlins v. McLean) for a bit following instructions out of Federal Hill in Providence.
Some of the Roxbury gang would join with McLean’s Somerville gang then under Howie Winter’s leadership after the killing stopped forming the basis of the Winter Hill gang. Flemmi and Salemme by that point had fled the area having been indicted for attempting to murder Joe “the Animal” Barbosa’s attorney by blowing up his car. Salemme, an electrician by training, set the bomb to go off when the attorney entered the car.
They fled they said because FBI agent Paul Rico tipped them off about the indictment but their stories how that happened were so at odds with each other only gullible or willful prosecutors and media would credit it. The one true part of it was that Flemmi was an FBI informant who would be protected by the FBI for thirty some odd years.
They went to the West Coast and then back to NY City. On the way back Flemmi murdered Paul Poulos who had fled with them. They stayed in the city of the Bronx Bombers until Flemmi left for Montreal. That was after setting up his buddy Salemme to be arrested by the FBI. Salemme would do 16 years in prison for the bombing; Flemmi thanks to the FBI had the charges dismissed. He came back and reunited with his Roxbury buddies over in Somerville.
While Salemme did his time Flemmi pretty much ignored him. Salemne’s family faced tough financial times but Flemmi who was building his wealth by parterning with Whitey Bulger in extorting and murdering people could not be bothered to help him. As several said Flemmi, like Whitey and the president, loved money and women more than anything else. I’ve always maintained that gives lie to idea they were giving much of it out to FBI types.
In truth though, Flemmi had a greater love. It was murdering people. He’d give the late Charles Manson who was born in the same year as he a good run for his money in that department. Flemmi so mush savored murders that he’d abuse the bodies of those he did in. He loved to linger over the body pulling out his victim’s teeth. He did that to his daughter after killing her.
Salemme got out in time to hook up with the ghoulish Flemmi and go back into business with him. Salemme, who I’ve previously described as dumber than dumb, would rise (or better described: “fall”) to become the leader, “king” as he described himself, of the New England Mafia. Flemmi dutfully stabbed him in the back.
Salemme was gunned down in front of the Pancake House in Saugus. Salemme said the FBI knew it was coming and could have tipped him off to save him. He couldn’t make the mental jump to figure out that if the FBI knew it was because Flemmi knew and Flemmi let him walk into it.
Salemme survived. He now stands trial for the murder of another guy who got involved with the Mob. The murder was most likely committed by Flemmi – as we know he never saw a murder he did not delight in – but Flemmi as usual with the help of the Justice Department is again setting Salemme up for a big fall. As Salemme sits in his wheel chair I wonder if he has yet figured out that Flemmi is not his friend.
Flemmi by the way was sentenced to life in prison for his many murders but never ended up in the federal prison system. Rumors have it that he’s living the good life on the taxpayers’ dime. Did anyone notice his tan?