James “Whitey” Bulger has been in prison for a little more than a year. He was locked up at age 81 and within a month he’ll have his 83rd birthday. He’s smart enough to know that there is no way that he’ll ever get out of prison unless he escapes. (Wouldn’t that be a great career ending move?)
If he bests the government in his 19-murder trial in Boston, a very dubious prospect, he’s off to the hell hole prisons of Oklahoma and Florida to face murder charges in those death penalty states. If he beats those, which is unlikely seeing the result in the case of FBI agent John Connolly, he’ll be in his late 80s. Then he’ll face the rock solid gun charges out in California or some other charges that will insure he’ll never shed his orange jump suit.
His decision now has to be how he fills his final few years given the limited control he has over his life. Within the context of things he controls, the big one is whether to go to trial in Boston. If he does, then he must decide whether to testify on his own behalf.
We can look for a hint to how he will make this decision by reading what his younger brother Billy Bulger wrote in his autobiography, While The Music Lasts. He said Whitey always wanted to be a leader, a person in control of his life.
He went on to write that there have been many lurid allegations against Whitey. He said of them, “I know some of the allegations and much of the innuendo to be absolutely false.” (Emphasis Billy’s) He went on to discuss his flight after being indicted writing that he was subject to “planted press stories, absurd rumors, wild exaggerations, the lot.” He then suggested the indictment against him was based on “purchased testimony” and noting “a ‘get out of jail’ card has been available to anyone who would give testimony against my brother . . . all of the evidence [against my brother] has been purchased. Inducements more precious than money – release from prison, the waiver of criminal charges – have been offered time and time again. Some of those who insisted they had nothing to offer at the beginning of their incarceration have had second thoughts and suddenly ‘remembered’ things they could barter for advantage. Without such purchased testimony there would be no accusations.” (Emphasis Billy’s)
Billy is telling us that many of the stories about Whitey are fabrications. Apparently he must have some inside knowledge about this or he would not be so bold as to assert it. Given that, there is a need to have a forum in which to set the record straight.
Kevin Weeks, Whitey’s strong-arm thug, said Whitey would never want to stand trial because it would cause his family embarrassment. Embarrass his family? That’s a joke! You’ve heard the derogatory term “his name is mud.” Some attributed the saying to Dr. Samuel Mudd who fixed the leg of John Wilkes Booth. Right now in the Boston area I’m not surprised that it is not replaced by the saying, “his name is Bulger.”
I’m suggesting that there is no way Whitey can embarrass his family by testifying. The relentless assaults by a hostile media on everything Bulger and its the blackening of their name at every opportunity by providing people with a personal hatred or insatiable greed with a venue in which to spew their vile and villainous attacks has held up the Bulger name to general opprobrium. Whitey is in a position that where no matter what he does he will not bring embarrassment against his family.
Weeks spent years by Whitey’s side. He apparently had no idea of the man he was working with. Everything within Whitey, who when I first began my study of him I thought he seemed to be somewhat of a coward but the more I learned of him I realized he was a man of immense courage and fortitude who feared nothing, will cry out for a chance to tell his story. The last thing he wants is to have people like Martorano or Flemmi or Weeks write his life’s story. He is too proud of a man to do let that happen. He’s also not going to let Billy’s defense of him look like empty bluster. Nor is he going to let the name of his beloved father, James Bulger, be wrongfully defiled by not answering the attacks against himself.
Whitey knows he has done some criminal acts and my guess is he’ll own up to them. He has nothing to lose. My background suggests to me he has not done others attributed to him. When I lived in Southie I learned that if you got in trouble and got caught you don’t give up the name of the person with you who got away. By the time I moved out of the project it seemed us kids had settled upon one name which we’d offer when pressed, Albie X. (I omit his true last name.) If you were running through the tunnels knocking over the barrels and were grabbed by a janitor or some other adult you’d deny doing it but say it was done by Albie X. I learned that as my Southie friends got older and headed down the Cape or up to Hampton Beach they’d leave their identities home. If they got into trouble they’d identify themselves as Albie X. I heard the plan came a cropper when the cops found the three guys they arrested after a fight were named Albie X.
You get the idea. All these hoodlums had their own Albie X. It was Whitey Bulger. If they killed a guy and were caught, they’d say Whitey did it or made them do it. Just as the kids used Albie X as a way to escape personal responsibility, so do the gangsters use the name Whitey, as Billy said, to serve as a ‘get out of jail’ card.
When you wonder if Whitey will testify think of this. He has no way to go but up. His whole life tells us he will not let others tell his story. We’ve only heard one side of many stories from those getting a break for telling them. Whitey will fill in the blanks. There are many people who hope he doesn’t. I can hardly wait.