A comment section is good because we all know many minds are better than one. The other day a question came up about the Mafia and Whitey. I responded that Whitey had little to do with the Mafia. The reason was he is Irish. The Mafia in New England had a strong dislike for things Irish, especially if it was South Boston Irish which Whitey represented.
This goes back to the inrush of immigrants into the area. Each ethnic group lived with its own but competed with the other for jobs that required strong backs or hands and little education. In the early part of the 20th Century a couple of gangsters (leaders of the Gustin Gang) from Southie were lured into the North End where they were murdered. When you only associate with your own kind in a closed society you find others both strange and threatening. The Mafia, being an Italian-only club of murderers, had little to do with most Irish and nothing to do with Whitey.
This went not only to Irish gangsters but to other Irish. I worked in a law firm that had two partners: one Italian and one Irish. On this date a couple of the Mafia bosses entered the office space and then into the Italian partner’s office. Both partners were there. An uncomfortable silence ensued after the Italian partner asked them what they were there for. He asked them again. They indicated with their heads toward the Irish partner. They were not going to talk in front of him.
This is why it’s sort of ironic to suggest that Whitey helped the FBI in its war against the Mafia. Whitey had as much idea of what the Mafia was doing as the Irish law partner. He was made a top echelon informant in the FBI’s war against the LCN (Mafia) which was supposed to mean he had contact with the top level Mafia types and could pass on information to the FBI about what they were doing. The truth is he didn’t have this access. He had no direct knowledge of what the Mafia was doing.
When the FBI placed the electronic bug into 98 Prince Street, the headquarters of the Patriarca family underboss Gerry Angiulo, it had to show Gerry was using that spot to conduct his illegal business. It had information from people who dealt with Angiulo in that spot. One informant was a big bookie who ran Chelsea named Berkowitz. (He was the only top echelon informant of FBI Agent John Morris. Morris took money and gifts from him as well as Whitey. Morris testified against FBI agent John Connolly) The information for the bug was already in place without any help from Whitey. He really had nothing to offer.
The question then arises is why is Whitey a top echelon informant. Who was he supposed to be connected with that gave him that status. The apocryphal story spun by Agent Connolly that he made a deal with Whitey to make him an informant in exchange for him taking down the Mafia makes little sense. Whitey couldn’t help him on that.
I’ve gone through the first few murders Whitey is charged with committing. These murders were all done by Murderman Martorano. He has Whitey lurking somewhere about in a back-up car while he and a guy in the back seat of a car being driven by Jimmy Sims fire machine gun bullets out the car’s windows and manage to murder people other than the targets they are going after. (Apparently the man in the back seat wore a mask since Murderman identifies him as “a guy from Somerville” as if they picked him up standing on a street corner thumbing a ride.) These murders were being done as a favor to Gerry Angiulo.
Murderman talks about meeting with Gerry to set them up and get the payment from him for doing them. The meetings are with Murderman, Howie Winter and Gerry. (Murderman’s brother who is a made man in the Mafia is probably there although Murderman doesn’t mention him. His deal with the feds is he doesn’t have to implicate his brother in anything.) After each murder these guys meet again with Gerry who gives them further instructions.
The question that came up to me as I was reading this is if Whitey is supposed to be the leader of the Winter Hill gang, where is he? The obvious answer is nowhere near Gerry Angiulo. Gerry wants to deal with Italians that’s why Murderman is there. Howie Winter for some reason gets a pass and he’s there too. I figure that he is from Somerville and not from the Boston Irish neighborhoods like Southie, Charlestown or Mission Hill so Gerry considers him to be more trustworthy. This turns out to be right because Howie never became a rat like all the others. In his early ‘80s he is still working hard at his profession.
Is it time to reconsider the position of Whitey in the overall scheme of things? Is he really the biggest and meanest bad man to walk the Boston streets or is he just a particularly vicious two-bit hoodlum who at times hung around with the big guys but mainly confined his activities to Southie. Wouldn’t it be something if Whitey isn’t the monster he’s supposed to be, he was set up and used by the Italian gangsters like Murderman. Stevie Flemmi, and Frankie Salemme to take the big hit while they walk free. Can it be we are all being scammed by the gangsters? Just a thought and something for us to consider.