The Contract Group Murders: No Need For Whitey To Have Been Involved

(``) AngiuloThe Contract Group involves four murders. These happened prior to the time that Whitey Bulger had become an FBI informant. He was not being protected at this time.

The victims of these murders were three people who were murdered in error. They were Michael Milano, Al Plummer, and William O’Brien. They were murdered in 1973. The fourth murder was one of the targets, Al “Indian Al” Notarangelli, who was murdered in 1974.

All of these were contracted for by Gerry Angiulo the guy in charge of the Mafia in Boston. Indian Al had recently been released from prison. He decided to start up his own gambling operation in the areas that belonged to the Angiulo’s Boston Mafia also called the North End. He did this by strong arming some of the bookies and demanding that they work for him.

One of them proved recalcitrant so he murdered him. This put Angiulo on the spot. The guys who had associated with him expected that as part of the tribute they paid they would be protected. If Angiulo could not protect them what good was he they wondered.

Angiulo decided he had to stop Indian Al. He reached out for Howie Winter and John Martorano to see if they would take on the contract to murder him and his gang. John Martorano tells of the meetings they had with Angiulo discussing how to go about this and the money they were paid.

It is unclear why Angiulo could not have done this himself with his own people.

Prior to 1972 Whitey Bulger not only  had no relation with Martorano or Winter they did not even know he existed. This tells us a lot. He was 43 years old and unknown outside South Boston to the major criminal elements. It was during that year that he first met those guys.

They set up a meeting with the Mullens to settle a gang war in South Boston. It was after that when he began hanging around with them in Somerville. Prior to his arrival there was the Winter group and their associates and the Roxbury Group with theirs.

Whitey would not really be accepted by that group until Stevie Flemmi came back later in 1974. He would start hanging around with him. They had common interests and kept themselves in shape.

He would have been too new to the group to be trusted. There would be no way Angiulo would have met an Irish guy from South Boston to ask him to do a hit. I know personally that Angiulo would not explain the reason he had come to see his Italian lawyer while the lawyer’s partner, who was Irish, was in the room.

Martorano described the murders of the men in this group. He and Howie Winter had the grease guns with which they did all the shooting. Jimmy Sims drove the car. Whitey was not present in the car that did the shooting. He was supposedly off some where in a second car, if one existed, that was to be used as a crash car whose job it was to block the street if the cops chased the shooters.

The truth of the matter might be that he was back in Southie. There was no need for him to be there. These guys had members of their own groups who they knew for years and could trust if they needed backup. They would not have taken a chance on a newcomer.

There is no reason to put any of these murders on Whitey. Martorano had too much of an incentive to lie about Whitey at the behest of the prosecutor interested in making Whitey into more of a criminal than he is. Martorano had to embellish in order to get his deals and keep the prosecutor happy. It will be a common theme in Martorano’s tales from 1973 to 1976 that even though he is the one who does most of the murders he always has Whitey somewhere in the vicinity.

I believe Whitey was at that time kept at arm’s length. They did not need his help since they had plenty of other people who could do what Martorano said Whitey did. There is only one person who has him somewhere near them. That is the person who does the actual murders and wants to please the prosecutor who wants to pile murders onto Whitey.

There’s too little proof of his involvement; the situation cries out that he wasn’t involved; and the person implicating him has too good a reason t lie. I can’t pin these on Whitey.

13 thoughts on “The Contract Group Murders: No Need For Whitey To Have Been Involved

  1. Hi Matt and thanks for taking the time to answer my questions in my earlier post to this article about Howie Winter’s relationship with Angiulo and Flemmi and I had no idea that he was German.

    Was Indian Al part of the North End group before going to prison and doing his own thing?

  2. Matt- It is Hilarious to think Gerry would have an Irishman murder for him out of the blue. Gerry Anguilo Hated IRISH people, all of us. He was the biggest bully and loudmouth of all time possibly (but only to people he knew he could abuse ofcourse). He also was scared to death of Larry Zannino and Larry knew how to manipulate and dominate the old goofball. If Larry was not protecting Gerry it would have been lights out for him and Donato,Mike,Frankie,Niccolito. Gerry paid, Raymond “The Man” Patriarca alot of money to operate and if he wasn’t so good with money and was useless as a killer (never on record of having made his bones) never would of happened. Also i beleive that before Larry joined forces with Gerry he was trying to shake him down on a regular.

  3. Matt- I have noticed that the timeline of these events make it much more clear to who was involved with what. Being 43 yrs old and still not in the picture suprised me for some reason? It seems the timeline is the real enemy for Martorano and Wyshak. It clearly opens up a pattern of lump in all possible murderes and blur the timeline to confuse the masses that this Whitey was the Super Monster of Southie,Ma

  4. Now, if I understand this correctly, Martorano accidentally killed three innocent people before he finally assassinated Indian Al. What kind of a professional hit man is this? And that’s just the body count. Didn’t he also shoot and seriously wound a child during one of these screwed-up shooting sprees? It boggles the mind. Of course the jury didn’t believe him. Too bad the prosecutors didn’t show the same good sense.

    1. Dan:

      He was a good hit man because he kept going after his targets. He would get them all in the end an no matter how many he had to take out to get them it did not matter to him. There are some line that no one should cross – the prosecutors, Howie Winter, etc which is to befriend a homicidal maniac, least of all a prosecutor to use him as a government witness. The jury choosing to disbelieve everything he said tells how much the prosecution erred in its decision to use and befriend him. I think what most repulsed the jury was the way the cops laughed at Martorano when he tried to inject humor into his tale of evil.

  5. Does anyone find it strange that Martorano told Wyshak that Howie Winter also machine gunned these four people?
    It makes sense that he names Whitey, that’s what he’s being paid for.
    It makes sense that he names Jimmy Sims. Sims is long dead.
    But why identify Winter as a shooter? Martorano could name any dead gangster as the other shooter and nobody would question it, certainly not Wyshak and Kelly.
    Is it because Martorano is telling the truth that Winter was the shooter?
    If that were the case, why wouldn’t Wyshak indict Winter for the four murders?
    Why did Wyshak leave Winter on the street and only use Martorano’s testimony against the alleged crash car driver, Whitey?
    More importantly, how did Martorano know he could pin four murders on Winter, and no prosecutor in the state or federal government would care or do anything?
    Similarly, how did Howie Winter know that he would not be prosecuted based on Martorano’s testimony?
    Wouldn’t Winter have gone on the lam the minute he heard Martorano flipped and was giving up murders?
    Was Winter already working for Wyshak as an informant?
    Somebody had to have visited Winter in state prison (1993-July, 2002) and told him that he didn’t have to worry about anything from Martorano, Nee, Weeks, and eventually Flemmi, among many others.
    Somebody also had to have visited and told Pat Nee (fed prison 1990-2000) that he didn’t have anything to worry about from James and John Martorano, Kevin Weeks, Howie Winter, and eventually Flemmi, among many others.
    Who coordinated all these mutual protective agreements among all these guys spread out in various prisons and different states?
    Whoever that person was, they suborned enormous quantities of perjury and perverted justice to suit Wyshak’s needs. I suspect it was DEA Agent Daniel “I’m from Boston” Doherty.

    1. Patty:
      I don’t find it strange. It goes along with the way the case has been handled. You have to understand that in making the deal with the prosecutors and their agents Martorano was calling the shots. If you ever had a doubt about it then it would have vanished if like me you saw them laughing and chuckling over some of his testimony in John Connolly’s case. He had become to them someone to look up to and admire. His twenty murders bothered them little because he was on their side.
      Understand that Martorano called the shots and you understand everything. He made a deal only to testify against certain people. Remember how he conspired with the investigators to come out with a list of people he would testify to that included lots of people from Southie. He said in his book he did not even know those guys but the prosecutors threw them in to make it look like a better deal for the feds. When he made his deal he said he would testify against Whitey and bad cops (meaning only John Connolly – he was listed as a witness against Schneiderhan but was never called) He said he would not testify against his brother, Howie and some others. That deal was signed off on by the feds and by the state prosecutors. So he could name him to his heart’s content but he could never be forced to testify against him.
      I don’t believe Winter was an informant. He did too much time. He got the word somehow from John – probably through his brother – that John would keep him out.
      Weeks made the same deal. He said he would not testify against Nee. That’s why you have the man in the mask in the back seat. I don’t see that Nee would have anything to worry about from Martorano.
      I don’t believe there was any federal guys going around passing messages. There are enough lawyers and criminals out there to do that.
      Yes, Doherty was part of the crew laughing it up but I don’t see him doing anything like you suggest. There was no active conspiracy to do harm by any of these guys; they may have hinted at one thing or another or suggested one thing or another and waited until they got it. It was not that they believed it was a lie they were getting it is just that they though the guy they were interviewing was lying and they were trying to bring him around to telling the truth: the truth being how they saw the case. If any fault is to be found with the guys like Doherty it is not that they were less than honest it is just that they came to a conclusion what they believed happened and anything that didn’t support it they figured was a lie.

  6. Hi Matt and thanks for an insightful article about the early murders committed by the Winter Hill Gang.

    Why do you think that Gennaro Angiulo trusted Howie Winter over Whitey Bulger?

    Did Howie Winter and Angiulos prefer to work with Flemmi rather than Bulger?

    1. David:

      Gerry Angiulo did not trust any guys. Howie was not Irish but German. So he probably took a chance with him because he may have had prior dealings with him. Gerry trusted very few outside of his Italian circle.

      I don’t think Gerry had much to do with Flemmi. Flemmi was connected to BAione from the old Roxbury days and that was how he got information. Gerry played it very tight and usually ran things through his brothers with Nick being the main one. I’m not sure about Howie’s reltionship with Flemmi He would have had some idea of him from the Sixties gang war and Martorano; but Flemmi and Whitey became a team shortly after Flemmi came back in 1974 and although they still hung around with the Hill they were doing their own things.

  7. Yes, Matt, this is the conclusion the jury came to in deliberations. Beyond Martorano’s testimony (which was not credible), we had Al Notarangelli’s nephew who stated that the families of Al and his brother were secreted off in the middle of the night to California. To the jury, it seemed they feared a Mafia hit (where families were punished, not just individuals — or is that just Hollywood?). And, as you said, Bulger’s involvement with Martorano and Winter was minimal at this time.

    1. Janet:

      It’s good to hear the jury felt the same way. I went out for coffee the other day and learned a lot about these matters for which I was thankful. I heard a story from one of the people there about meeting with someone who was put on the phone. I’m wondering whether that might not be worthwhile – I’d like to be a fly on the wall for that.

      The Mafia revenge on the family is pretty much Hollywood stuff. The families have more to fear from the revenge of the prosecutor. If you remember Jimmy Katz testifying how he was sent away for money laundering because he was a bookie — while in the can he refused to testify — the prosecutors put a lien on his house where his wife and kids lived and were threatening to throw them out on the street. Maybe Hollywood has gotten the story backwards.

  8. Winter of ’74 , he blew up. People, in Boston, knew he was The Guy. He staged a lot out of the Hotel Milner in the Combat Zone. He liked the Carnival Lounge and Harry’s ; both were bloodbuckets in what seemed an era when the blatantly violent was rather unobtrusive overall. The old CZ was no joke. You could get sliced up there in an Essex St. moment .

    1. John:

      Thanks. That would go along with Flemmi coming back into town. Maybe it was the combination of them that brought much of that about. Fortunately the CZ never held an attraction for me. It was correctly named.

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