I’m moving on through my book about Whitey. I’ve been fooling around with the introduction to it. It runs about 2,000 words so those who have the time might want to read it. If you have any comments, corrections, or additions let me know.
Introduction to The Great Whitey Myth
Roger Wheeler left his country club in Tulsa, Oklahoma, on May 27, 1981, having completed a friendly round of golf. He walked toward his automobile parked in the lot. Another car parked in the lot contained two men, John Martorano and Joseph McDonald. Both me were fugitives from justice hiding out in Florida. They had flown into Tulsa a couple of days earlier.
They were there to murder Wheeler. They had been paid fifty thousand dollars by John Callahan to kill him. Callahan had been the former president of a business owned by Wheeler. He and Martorano were friends. Callahan knew of Martorano’s reputation as a stone killer. Callahan told Martorano he had been trying to buy the business from Wheeler but they couldn’t come to terms. Putting Wheeler out of the way would enable him to buy the business from Wheeler’s widow.
Wheeler opened the door to his car without noticing Martorano was closing in on him. He climbed inside. He was about to close the door when Martorano grabbed it with his left hand. In his right hand he held a pistol. He fired the bullets into Wheeler’s head, crossed back to where McDonald was waiting, and drove away.
This would be the nineteenth murder that Martorano would admit to committing. Several of his victims were done in because he feared they were cooperating with the police. He would admit to one more murder after Wheeler. That came about when he heard that the police had turned their suspicions onto Callahan. They were planning to inquire of him about his relationship to Roger Wheeler’s murder.
He knew if Callahan didn’t stand up to the pressure there was only one person who Callahan could implicate. That would be him. He invited Callahan to Florida. When he arrived Martorano and McDonald were at the airport to meet him. Callahan climbed into the passenger seat of the automobile McDonald was driving. We’ll never know if he noticed how the floor and seat was covered with plastic. If he did, he had no time to react. As soon as he got in Martorano came up behind him and shot him in the back of the head.
Martorano would eventually be caught up in a federal racketeering charge in the Boston federal court. He was apprehended in 1995 after sixteen years on the run from a charge in a race fixing case. He faced serious prison time. He had done three months in jail on gaming charges earlier in his career in a case that had been compromised by a state trooper who he was paying off. He didn’t like being confined. There was one thing he could do to lesson this. He could cooperate and offer to testify against others.
The racketeering charge against Martorano included other people in the conspiracy with him. One was James “Whitey” Bulger who was not in custody but had gone on the lam when he heard the charges were coming down. Another was Steven Flemmi who like Martorano was in custody. He too was facing serious prison time.
Whitey and Steve Flemmi were partners. They also were top echelon informants for the FBI; Flemmi from the mid-Sixties and Whitey from the mid-Seventies. Of the two, Flemmi was the most feared. He had the reputation. In cross-examination during a trial in 2018 he would say that he murdered around fifty people. It is likely the number was probably similar to that of Martorano around twenty or so. Flemmi had made a deal with the federal prosecutors to testify so he was free to claim any number of murders knowing there would be no consequences to him for doing so.
The FBI had been plenty helpful to Flemmi. Back in the late sixties he placed a bomb in a lawyer’s automobile which went off along with the lawyer’s leg and he murdered one of his fellow hoodlums Bill Bennett. He was indicted for both of those matters. He fled. He was living in Montreal when the FBI arranged for those charges against him to be dismissed. He came back to Boston in 1974, they were dismissed, he was a free man again in the employ of the FBI.
Flemmi had been part of the reign of Boston gangster murders in which gangsters took the lives of over 100 people. It took place over a twenty year period from 1956 to 1976 with most occurring in the middle of the Sixties. Whitey missed most of them. He was doing nine years of a twenty-year federal sentence for bank robbery from 1956 to 1964. When he got out he tried to go straight for a few years. As the decade of the Sixties was coming to an end he had drifted back into the rackets in a small section of Boston called South Boston, or Southie.
Martorano was looking to make a deal for himself after he was incarcerated. He knew that other people were thinking of the same thing. These were guys who couldn’t do the time for their crimes despite all their bravado when they had a gun in their hands. He’d learn that the main target of the federal prosecutors was the guy who was not in custody, Whitey Bulger. If he could implicate Whitey into some of his crimes, then he could get himself a sweet deal.
To do that though, he would have to admit to all his murders that he believed others could implicate him in. As to those no one knew about, he’d keep them to himself. No use overburdening the prosecutors with too many of them. He knew he was in a race against the others who might cooperate like Flemmi who ended up cooperating. He did get the sweetheart deal he wanted. He got 12 years in prison for the twenty murders.
The deal was so outrageous Martorano said to lessen the stench of it the prosecutors said part of his deal was to cooperate and give evidence against other named people. Martorano did not know anything about them. He knew the prosecutors were lying to cover for him so he went along. To top it off on his release from prison the federal prosecutors gave him twenty thousand dollars start-up money, one grand for each admitted murder.
Flemmi also got a great deal. Although he was sentenced to prison for life, he never went to the Bureau of Prisons. The prosecutors were so enamored of him that they arranged for him to keep most of his ill begotten assets and be confined, if he was confined, at places known only to them.
It was clear the Martorano and Flemmi were criminals of a much higher degree than Whitey. They began their murders earlier in their lives in their twenties and continued with them for years racking up at least twenty each. Whitey didn’t commit his first murder until he was in his fifties. Having made astounding deals with Martorano and Flemmi to get Whitey the prosecutors ended up piling the murder charges on him. He was charged with nineteen murders, the majority of which were committed by Martorano who added Whitey into the mix.
He went to trial. He hardly defended against the individual murders positing the idea that the federal prosecutors had given him immunity for all of them. That didn’t carry the day. He was convicted of 11 of the murders.
Two of the eleven were those of Roger Wheeler and John Callahan. Martorano testified Whitey had a hand in them by agreeing to let him do them as if he was somehow under Whitey’s control or they were working together. Of the others, Paul McGonagle was shot by Tommy King; Tommy King and Richard Castucci were murdered by Martorano.
Of the remaining six, Brian Halloran, Michael Donohue, and Eddie Connors there is little doubt Whitey did them with the help of others. In each they used a combat-type weapon firing at them from a distance. They did not have to get close to them as if playing a video game.
One, a woman, Deborah Hussey, the step-daughter of Flemmi was put on Whitey by Flemmi even though he had no motive to murder her while Flemmi did fearing she was going to disclose his sexual abuse of her when she was a child in his house. John McIntyre and Arthur “Bucky” Barrett were murdered in the same house as Hussey which was owned by the brother of Pat Nee who was involved in the Halloran and Donohue murders. Barrett was being extorted; McIntyre was another one where Whitey had no motive but others with him, like Nee, had plenty of reason to kill him.
There are strange things about all of Whitey’s murders. He is alleged to have had a hand in the actual murder of six of them. These six were all committed in South Boston or a mile or two away. A murder weapon is put in his hand in only five of the murders. He is never alleged to have done one on his own but it is always in the company of others. After the murders in the Nee house, Kevin Weeks his young strong-arm associated who pleaded guilty to five murder and received only six years, said Whitey would not participate in the desecration of the body. Flemmi would do the gross work of pulling out teeth and other acts that brutalized the deceased. Whitey would go up to rest apparently because the murders made him ill.
In the hierarchy of murders it is difficult to decide between Steven Flemmi and John Martorano as to who was the worst of the lot. I go with Flemmi because he murdered his girlfriend and step-daughter although Martorano murdered two teenage African-Americans. After them, in the Boston scene there are others who rank up near them: Howie Winter who used to be the boss of Martorano, Flemmi and Whitey; Frank Salemme who was involved with the Mafia; other Mafia guys like Larry Baione or Joe Russo known as hit men, Joe McDonald who did the hits with Martorano and killed witnesses against him. The field was crowded with the real evil guys and the lesser evil Whitey-type guys who murdered around a half-dozen people.
It seems strange delineating among murderers. Some are monstrous. All are evil. All are a bane on our society. I only do so because others have done it so that Whitey’s evil can be seen for what it is in comparison to others.
I was forced to make the comparison in part because I came across a preposterous statement by two authors, Gerald O’Neill and Dick Lehr who worked together at the Boston Globe and who wrote a book about Whitey. They wrote: “In the annals of crime in the United States, Whitey Bulger today stands at the front of the line that includes 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, . . . “
How is it this outlandish statement is made? What is behind it that these authors elevate Whitey to a height where it is patently obvious he does not belong? It couldn’t be simply that he was an FBI informant and protected by the FBI. Steven Flemmi a more vicious criminal was also such an informant and had been protected ten years longer than Whitey. So were other murderers involved in its Top Echelon Informant Program.
What then makes these authors write this absurd statement? Why do they want to push Whitey to the pinnacle of criminals in America when he is far below many in Boston not to mention not in the same league as others throughout the country who were much more vicious and feared. They, others in the media, the federal prosecutors, federal judges, and the enemies of people in power, the ones who hide knives in their cloaks ready to strike, combined together to deceive the public. It was done for one purpose which was to destroy a man they abhorred and sought to bring down. That was Whitey’s brother, Bill.
He served thirty-seven years in elective office in Massachusetts arising to the position which he held for 17 years which was president of the Senate. He was appointed president of the University of Massachusetts after leaving the Senate. He was a man of impeccable integrity when it came to the public well-being.
By elevating Whitey they could suggest but for his brother’s involvement in his activity he could never have reached this height. They could reinvent history. They could pretend Whitey was notorious during his criminal days when hardly anyone in the public heard of him.
True, he became notorious long after he fled the Boston area and was hiding out in California. That was because the media and others reinvented him into something that he never was. It was a dastardly scheme to get revenge against Bill for the way he treated the media, the authors, the Boston Globe and those seeking favors he refused to grant because they clashed with his values and were not in the public’s interest.
This is the story of The Great Whitey Myth.