The Ladies Group: Summing Up: Too Much Doubt Exists To Blame Whitey

(~) swan lakeWhitey Bulger’s indictment for the murder of Debbie Davis, the long-term girl friend of Steven “Benji Ditchman” Flemmi’, and Deborah Hussey, his step-daughter who sat on his lap as a young girl only to be later raped by him while still a young girl, was the result of a Perfect Storm.

Two men with deep down obsessions in every way mirroring that of Captain Ahab were thrown together by their need and their desperation. One, Steven Flemmi, had escaped doing time in prison despite a long career as a murderous criminal. He was indicted for a murder and for blowing up a car of a lawyer severely maiming him but those charges were made to disappear courteous of the FBI. He had served in the Army in Korea and came back and told of his heroic deeds but had nary a medal to prove the truth of his story. He joined up with the FBI in the 1960s in their nascent Top Echelon Informant Program, a creation of the evil-minded J. Edgar Hoover and his men who operate above the law as an America’s Stasi. During the sixties, seventies, eighties, and into the mid-nineties he was protected and became wealthy. In January 1995 he was arrested as a result of an investigation done by the other man, Fred Wyshak.

Once in jail he reached out to the FBI to extricate him from that situation. It couldn’t. The other man Wyshak now controlled his destiny and he was no friend of the FBI at that time. That would change when they found they were quite similar.

Flemmi found himself rotting in a Plymouth County jail on RICO charges of running a gambling conspiracy along with his fellow gangsters including John Martorano and Frankie Salemme. Reports from the jail were that he was not having an easy time. It would become a lot more uncomfortable when they learned he had been an FBI informant.

The gangsters and their attorneys came up with a plan to defeat the charges against them. Flemmi would admit he had been working with the FBI all those years under its promise not to prosecute him for anything he did; if Flemmi had that pass so did all those who were working him so went the reasoning presented to the judge.

The tactic failed. The ship was sinking. The prison rats all eyed each other warily.

None wanted to spend the rest of his life in prison which looked like the fate that awaited him. It was “let’s make a deal” time. Martorano, also known as Johnny Murderman, the one who had put the gun to the head and pulled the trigger sending a bullet into the brain of more people than a Nazi executioner won the race to rat out the others.

Martorano agreed to testify against Flemmi. He would put him into his Florida and Oklahoma murders saying he was part of the plan to murder these people. He would use the “I didn’t want to do it but someone else made me do it” ploy that Flemmi would play off of so well later.

It minimized the rat’s own responsibility and heightened another’s. Kevin Weeks also could not do time. He went over to the other man to do his bidding. Flemmi understood that they would dime out Whitey which Wyshak wanted but that would also mean he would fall.

He then had no choice. He had to make a deal for himself. His deal would be finalized in a plea agreement entered into by him in a letter dated October 2, 2003.

Flemmi and Wyshak would work together in Wyshak’s pursuit of the Bulgers, Billy and Whitey. Obviously the first thing that had to be done was to explain Flemmi’s murder of the two women.  It was like tying to put a shine on a sneaker. It really could not be done other than suggesting Flemmi had no choice. Whitey made him do it.

The difficult part was explaining why Whitey wanted this. It was clear that Flemmi had every reason in the world to do it. They conjured up reasons that under a cursory examination limped.

Wyshak though had a backup. Kevin Weeks who was at Deborah Hussey’s murder. He could attribute no motive to Whitey. But he was motivated, like Flemmi, to put himself as far away from the murder as possible.

He said Whitey slammed Deborah to the floor as soon as she arrived at the murder house; that didn’t sound like Whitey tactic. It did sound very Weeks-like. Brutal.  Weeks said when John McIntyre was brought to the same house previous to Deborah that “I grabbed him by the throat and back of his head and he went down to the floor.”

Weeks easily put Whitey into his position with Deborah. He then puts himself upstairs in a bathroom. He told us how surprised he was that Deborah would be murdered. Why? He knew Flemmi had already murdered Debbie Davis.

The zealousness of the prosecutor who not only gave his witnesses who were murderers unbelievable sentence deals, most people with only one murder spend their whole lived in prison, but financial incentives as well coupled with the obvious desire of the witnesses to please him and lessen their own blame makes the whole presentation relative to the murder of the women suspect.

The background of this case, the circumstances of the murders, and the blind zeal of the prosecutor all raise substantial doubts of Whitey Bulger’s involvement in the murders of the women as presented by the prosecutor.

15 thoughts on “The Ladies Group: Summing Up: Too Much Doubt Exists To Blame Whitey

  1. Hi Matt and why did J Edgar Hoover create the Top Echelon Informant Program?

    What is your understanding of the murder of William Grasso? As I heard that several Boston gangsters such as Mercurio were involved in his death

    1. David:

      Hoover was under a lot of pressure to do something about the Mafia which he never bothered with even denying its existence prior to the November 1957 Apalachin meeting. After that, especially when he wasn’t able to ignore the AG when Bobby Kennedy became president he figured he had to start looking at the problem. He started with a Top Hoodlum program asking each office to identify ten top hoodlums and then came up with the Top Echelon scheme. It was modeled on the approach he used to bring down the Communist movement in the United States. It actually was as successful as that. The big difference was that the communists were not criminals engaged in everyday criminal activity; they were basically people who worked to bring about a new system of government and were not violent. The criminals on the other hand used the FBI’s protection and relationship to continue their criminals ways. He doubled down on the program when LBJ stopped him from doing his illegal bugging operations.

      I believe Grasso was in a leadership dispute with the guys in Boston (Ferrara/Russo/Mercurio) who eventually murdered him. Siding with Grasso was Frankie Salemme who was gunned down by Mercurio and some others but not killed outside of a Pancake joint in Saugus. Salemme blamed Connolly for not doing anything to stop the shooting — Connolly allegedly knew about it from Mercurio who was one of his Top Echelon guys with a pass.

      1. Just to add to the Grasso story, it was the choice of Grasso as underboss that helped bring the downfall of Patriarca Jr after his father’s death. I think initially a guy named Francesco Intiso was initially named underboss after Raymond Sr died, but Intiso died and one of Junior’s first major decisions as boss (which he assumed with Gambino family support and also as a kind of honorary gesture of respect to Raymond Sr) was to anoint Grasso as underboss, which a lot of guys in Boston resented. Matt adds the rest. Btw, I think the guy who fired the gun at Salemme was Enrico Ponzo (or Ponzi), recently caught and sentenced after living for many years as a rancher in Idaho.

        Matt – do you know if Steve Flemmi or his brother Vinny the Butcher was the first to become a top echelon informant?

        1. Salemme would have supported Intiso because he hooked up with Bobby DeLuca in RI and became a major supporter of Raymond Junior, who I believe was the one to get him a “made man”.

  2. Matt
    In watching this clip I noticed that Lehr admitted he made a blunder regarding his (and the Boston media) coverage of Bulger in the 80s.

  3. Jerome,

    Michael Patrick MacDonald is full of baloney. I knew him back then and I assure you he is cashing in on Whitey hysteria. He and his brothers were no victims of Whitey. Whitey would never deal with such lowlifes as the Macdonalds. They were the third rail for someone like Whitey because they were all into hard drugs and high all the time. They were so sketchy that other thieves couldn’t trust them. They stole from their neighbors in the projects and nothing was sacred. One brother was nicknamed Sin Boy. The MacDonalds were drug addicts and low life thieves, period.
    Whitey didn’t drink, smoke, gamble or take drugs. Moreover, he constantly preached against those things and praised self discipline, exercise, health food, and clean living. Anybody he came into contact with had to endure his lectures about clean living. That was a prominent part of who he was in the neighborhood. Relatively few people in te neighborhood ever met him, but we all knew that clean living was his mantra.

    The testimony I heard at whitey’s trial was that in about 1980-81, he discovered a cocaine dealing ring was operating in South Boston. He found out who was running it and how much money they were making, so he was faced with a choice. He could try to drive this business out of town, or he could tax it by making the dealers pay him rent. The former bore the risk that the dealers would get someone to kill Whitey to protect their cash-rich business. He made a safe choice, but a bad one.
    This might be hard for people to believe, but the 1980s were known for cocaine. It poured into every city and was used by all strata of society as a party drug. All the cocaine in America was not in South Boston. MacDonald and Lehr want you to believe cocaine “ravaged and destroyed South Boston” and the Macdonald family. I lived there throughout. It is not true. The MacDonalds were into heroin and pills back when I knew them in the 1970s. Some MacDonalds never lived long enough to get to the 80’s cocaine days. Michael’s timing does not work out to blame things on Whitey.

    South Boston was eventually ravaged by drugs. Two grandmothers were brutally slain in their South Boston homes by desperate junkies. Houses are broken into constantly whereas doors weren’t even locked in the 1970s and 1980s. In the late 1990s, there was a rash of teen suicides related to opiate addiction. Overdose deaths have been rampant. There are needles strewn about the parks and playgrounds to the extent that mothers clear them before letting their kids into the playground. This current epidemic is truly changing the neighborhood in a bad way. It all started after Whitey went on the lam, so he can’t be blamed.
    Despite the opiate crisis that has been tearing through the neighborhood and the state since the late 1990s, our law enforcement resources are heavily deployed towards rewriting history from 40 years ago. It is being used to crush Catherine Greig, Bob Fitzpatrick, Timothy Flaherty, etc., all for crimes against the ego of Wyshak. The warped Michael MacDonalds and Dick Lehrs also miss the point. Are the Oxy and heroin dealers in South Boston today the same guys that operate with Wyshak’s immunity? I believe that some are, but nobody can say or do anything about it. History is just repeating.

    Michael Macdonald is no better than his brothers for cashing in on their deaths and blaming it on anyone but themselves. If they truly idolized Whitey, they would have avoided drugs and been fit and healthy today.
    I pity Michael MacDonald because he can’t face the reality that the true fault for his siblings’ demise lays much closer to his home than he can bear. I dislike him because he is cheaply cashing in. He has always been an attention seeker, whether it was spray painting his hair hot pink or blaming someone else that his brother got shot during an armed robbery….

    At the very end of the clip Jerome provides, there is a most poignant moment. Adam Reilly points out the paradox that Whitey’s victims are rooting for the defense in the courtroom because only the defense is genuinely and openly seeking the truth. Wyshak and Kelly were fighting fiercely to Keep it out of evidence. The host agrees with Reilly and remarks about how extraordinary it is that the victims still don’t know the truth about what happened decades ago and they have to learn it from the defense. Sitting in between Reilly and the host is Dick Lehr, the scribe who claims to be the Whitey expert, but who truly has just been spinning Wyshak’s false narrative that left the victims in the dark and helped Wyshak hide the truth. Lehr doesn’t say anything. He can’t because the true mistake in his decades of Bulger coverage was just exposed.
    P

  4. Patty
    WOW. Thanks for ALL that insight. You make some great points. My personal opinion, and of course its not a popular one in society, is that I dont blame Whitey Bulger for making ANYONE a drug addict. Unless Whitey Bulger put a gun to someones head and forced them to do drugs or get killed, the responsibility is on each and every individual. Whether the drug is alcohol or cocaine or crack or meth its still up to each and every person to deiced for themselves to do drugs. Maybe thats too simple and too black/white thinking but I get tired of folks blaming the drug dealer. I mean look at big pharma companies pushing all kind of anti-anxiety and anti-depressant drugs onto folks. Whats the difference? Easy. One drug is legal and one is illegal. anyway, I am getting side tracked.

    Could you expand on what you mean when you say Whitey Bulger made “the safe choice. But a bad one”? Bulger’s downfall was getting into the drug dealing business and that brought more heat?

  5. Patty
    What about a 3rd choice that Bulger could have made? He could have chosen to not drive the drugs out of Southie and chosen not to tax anyone. How would that have played out? I dont see Bulger trying to drive drugs out of South Boston because that would take too much man power and fire arms. Heck law enforcement cant even do that.

  6. Sit back and let a lucrative, but independent drug network produce huge amounts of cash? That much cash would have made someone else more powerful than him. He would be knocked off by the more powerful. Alternatively, LCN or another group would come in and tax the network. Whitey wouldn’t survive either one.

  7. Jimmy Bulger was never in ” The Drug Dealing Business ” in Southie. A foothold for thuggery, thievery, cocaine distribution, murder and blithely administered violence was long established. He drove the Cambodians dealing smack out with the embers of their house on Silver, across from the basketball court, floating down Broadway as they scurried out of Southie. Angel Dust sales in Southie got you badly beaten by Jimmy. Any stepping out by local drug kingpins who had not an adequate prior understanding as to how effectively Jimmy could enforce his edicts, was dealt with.

  8. John,

    He also evicted a heroin addict/dealer named Richard “Ricky Smack” MacDonald via nightly administration of buckshot to Ricky’s smack house.
    Ricky switched to selling grass to support his heroin habit, but that was apparently unacceptable to Whitey. The evening buckshot volleys continued until Ricky moved out.
    P

  9. @ P … Lived across from the MacDonald’s on Patterson Way summer of ’85 . I forget the sister’s name, but she was a really beautiful girl with a distinct limp . She was partially crippled attempting to commit suicide by falling from that Patterson Way roof of their building. You get much right about Michael, but he has his good points also. I liked and admired Frank’s fighting spirit. He was just back from Olympic Trials that summer. The kids from Eddie’s gym … who Idolized me as ” SUPERMAN ” … ran into 24 to tell me he and Eddie were going to spar. So I shut the register down and we trooped down the alley. Eddie is a brawler. He had his hands full with Frank who beat up on him for three rounds. Frank MacDonald gave Eddie Mackenzie a corker of a black eye that afternoon. I liked Frank .

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