Whitey Weekend Wrap – Week Ending July 5

IMGP1825Week one went to the prosecutors. The next two weeks to the defense team. The fourth week, even though only having two days of testimony, saw the prosecution come roaring back. It was a big week for the prosecutors.

This was mainly due to two witnesses, both drug dealers from South Boston who paid Whitey a share of their profits. I’ve told how both men, Joe Tower and Billy Shea, who were put into a partnership by Whitey seemed to have a fondness when they testified in front of him. They showed no animosity toward him. Joe said when identifying him something like “how you doing Jim” as if he met him walking down East Broadway; Billy told of how much money he was making selling cocaine and looked at Whitey and suggested he shouldn’t be telling that because Whitey will recognize he was not getting he expected cut.

The jury had to have notice that when Billy said this Whitey was noticeably laughing as he was when Joe told about how Whitey saved his brother who was being kidnapped. Where I thought it showed fondness, I’m sure a juror could see it as showing respect. Even sitting there in shackles (figuratively) these guys were still wary of him. A juror would think that because each one, Joe and Billy, made it clear you didn’t do anything that Whitey did not want done or there would be serious consequences.

The jury had to come away feeling Whitey ruled a whole area of the city with an iron fist and to cross him meant trouble, the type of trouble you’d do anything to avoid. A juror will reason that if he had these guys so frightened, he must have done some awful things to other people. From that they can easily agree that he would not think twice of beating up or murdering someone. Now I don’t know if the prosecution wanted that point made, but it was and it is telling.

Shea told his story so that he was totally believable. He’s a good story-teller in the Irish tradition so there may be a little exaggeration here and there. He came across as far from hostile to Whitey and as one not trying to please the prosecutors. He was saying, in what appeared a very frank manner, a straight forward story of what happened

He told the riveting story of how Whitey, Stevie and Weeks came to his house and asked him to go for a ride. How they ended up at the D Street Housing project that was undergoing renovations and had no one living there. I could picture a ghost town in a Western movie. Having live in a project, I knew what Billy Shea meant when he said Whitey, calling him Jim, walked him down the steps to the basement of the building into what seemed like a coffin. Here again it showed Whitey as a person who had no trouble murdering someone.

Other things told by Billy were two conversations he heard involving Whitey. Once he was upstairs at Triple O’s and heard him mention “Chinatown, Halloran, and rat,” which is a little tie-in to the upcoming Weeks’s story of Halloran’s murder; and another when Whitey threatened him telling him to remember what happened to Bucky Barrett.  Billy said Bucky had been missing. We’ll hear from Weeks how he was brutally murdered by Whitey, buried by Flemmi and Weeks in a basement, then moved to another location, and finally unearthed by Wyshak’s team.

The testimony of the two Southie drug dealers seemed given almost reluctantly. You have to listen to the witness to see how he tells a tale to get the true impact of it. Words on paper don’t reflect the facial or body movements or the tone of voice. You don’t see Joe Tower holding up his right hand at chest height about a foot and a half away and to his right, palm facing him, fingers bent as he studies his finger nails showing a a wise guy-like attitude of “stop harassing me, I don’t need this” as he listened to Carney’s question readying himself to answer: “wrong.” That’s what words don’t convey. That’s what jurors see. That’s why  looking at Billy Shea’s whole body told of an earnest candor and those statements he attributed to Whitey tying him into two murders came across as being told hesitantly but containing the absolute truth

I’m told lots of news media made much of Whitey making machine gun sounds that were played an a 45 second excerpt from almost an hour of discussion he was having with his nephew and niece. Thanks to John who comments here you can listen to it for yourself.  Keep in mind there are two games we are watching, what the jurors see and what the media (and prosecutor) want the world to see. I can’t but believe that ‘machine gun’ tape was used an attempt to demean Billy Bulger by playing a conversation between his kids and Whitey. It’s done so that the public can be appalled that they would think their vile uncle funny. We might get a Jeff Jacoby Boston Globe article calling for us to shun the family.

As for the jury who listened to the conversation like I did, it would have been a little confusing and of little moment. The tape was put into evidence by a correctional officer. He was cross-examined right after playing the tape.

He was forced to tell that he stripped searched Whitey at least twice day, and others may have done it, so that it was done as many as 5 to 7 times a day while he was locked up in a cell with a camera on him 24 hours a day. It was not necessary but done to humiliate and harass this 83-year-old guy. The sheriff ought to be ashamed of himself letting his guards engage in this conduct.

It stopped when J.W. Carney complained. It showed the brutality and crassness of the witness. He turned from a guy doing a job into a savage brute. I felt myself looking at him totally differently thinking how he debased himself by his daily actions against someone who could not defend himself. What a coward, I thought.

If the machine gun if it had any effect was quickly forgotten. What the jurors will remember is the evil man who having a person in a helpless state could not restrain himself from his viciousness. A person hardly better than the man on trial. And, the horror of being in prison subject to such people.

This might have been the one downside to the government’s good week. It does add to the idea of our corrupt government in bed with evil people like the gangsters and bullies. It may be the little extra thing that will give Carney the one or two jurors he needs.

 

32 thoughts on “Whitey Weekend Wrap – Week Ending July 5

  1. I was at a nice family gathering with the little angels of our family running and laughing with such innocence on our independence day. I hear an aunt ask my little cousin what he wants to be when he gets older..?” I want work for the fbi” I basically lost my appetite.

    1. Doubting:

      Kids will be kids but remember with a change in culture the FBI can become a superb organization if it let’s the people who work for it get out from under the Hoover shadow that has oppressed them for his 42 years and the next 41 years. Maybe kids like your cousin can bring about that change.

  2. Doubting: ha! I’ve mentioned on here once or twice in a discussion with Matt that I have an application on file for the special agent position that, as far as I know, is still active. I applied in March 2009, was invited to take Phase 1, passed, went in for a pre-phase 2 interview (in the Boston office!), was turned down for Phase 2, then moved to DC, met an agent randomly who got me in touch with the applicant coordinator, then one thing led to another and I had another pre-Phase 2 interview, was then told a month later my file would go to headquarters and a decision would be made about Phase 2 by the end of the summer (2011), then didn’t hear any thing for a year, then got a message from the applicant coordinator apologizing for the delay and that I should send in an updated resume and she would try to expedite the process, and so I sent in an updated resume, and I haven’t heard anything since. I figure with sequestration, I won’t hear anything anytime soon (and I’m not worried that someone from the bureau is reading this post)

    I thought I was a good fit for the FBI: straight-laced, clean background, good education, disciplined, security clearance, strong moral sense, and someone who grew up poor in blue-collar neighborhoods in Providence (and Pawtucket) and for as long as I can remember having a desire to take the full force of the law to the criminals and lawbreakers and street gangs and mafia, all of which had a presence in Providence.

    To this day I am still sympathetic to our national security infrastructure set up by Bush-Cheney in the aftermath of 9/11. I have no real problem with the NSA surveillance program.

    And then it was sometime in April I found this blog. Not sure even how, but I’ve been studying mob history for a little personal project for almost a year, and I came across the site. I try to keep an open mind, but I filter out ideological yahoos very quickly. But this site was different. Matt is clearly an expert with remarkable experience over the years in these matters, and more than anything is fair-minded, sharp, analytical, and fully immersed in the facts of the case. I could not turn away.

    The commenters have surprised me as well. It is hard to find such an equable combination of passionate and dispassionate parsing of the facts inspired by a lust for truth and justice. I don’t always agree with everything said here, but I am very grateful for what I have learned. And I can say quite honestly that as a result of my reading Matt’s posts and the commentary over the last few months, and reflecting on all that I’ve read, I am just stunned by how much my view of the FBI has changed. I still think there are many good people who work there. I still think the FBI is an essential institution that has achieved great victories against the bad guys. Just think of Joe Pistone or Bruce Mouw or Jules Bonavolonta. Or jihadi plots broken up since 9/11.

    But as Matt said in a comment, the FBI should be getting it right all of the time. And it has failed miserably in that mission. Miserably. Afraid of FBI’s posts are stunning. Connolly getting 40 years while Murderman walks free is stunning. Morris’s corruption is stunning. Whitey’s false file is stunning. In part, we are witnessing how human nature can succumb to the dark side of hubris, greed, and murder. But we are also witnessing the workings of a Kafkaesque bureaucracy where no one person seems to be in control except the brand name of the agency itself, where rules are bent and broken, and where, once the shit hits the fan and a Pandora’s box of incredible misdeeds breaks out in the open, it seems no innocent is sacred compared to the preservation of a brand name that seems a law unto itself.

    You could say it all begins with J Edgar Hoover denying for years that the Mafia existed. This in itself shows the incompetence of the bureau and the sheer absurdity of Hoover’s concern with the purity of the brand rather than the efficacy of the brand. Then Hoover finally wakes up and we get the bugs and the TE program and suddenly a culture arises in which having informants is such a mark of prestige that guys like Morris and Connolly can be lured into gaming the system, falsifying files, and being on the take, while people like the brother of Afraid of FBI are terrorized into doing what the bureau says. All along, the end mission is preserving the Bureau’s reputation as a spotless law enforcement agency. Thus, accumulating arrests and going after bank robbers and Communists while the Mafia syndicates thrive nationwide. My blood boils just thinking of it. Hoover was so concerned about his rivalry with Harry Anslinger that he would denigrate the importance of Anslinger’s focus on drugs and the mafia.

    I still think it is a noble idea to want to work for the FBI. But something has got to be done to stop the blind faith in the purity of the brand. The bureau is far, far, far from perfect. So far that it has walked with the devil into the moor of darkness one too too many occasions. FDR once said that it is permissible in times of danger to walk with the devil until you have crossed the bridge. One would hope that once the bridge is crossed, you would kick the devil over the precipice, or at least part ways. Apparently, not so for the FBI.

    Oh Kafka, who knew how prescient you were…

    1. Jon, this is simply one of the best comments I have seen on any topic on any blog. There is noting to add, brilliant.

    2. Jon- I am a big fan of your thoughts and comments, I myself have been on quite a learning experience journey when it comes to LCN. I have done a lot of reading about Chicago, New York ,Philadelphia, Detroit, Cleveland, New England. I would love to know about what you have been up to with your research. Matt your blog has now officially become my addiction.

        1. JON- I will be definitely emailing you soon. Will you have an opportunity to see Kevin Weeks testify this Monday?

          1. Doubting: no. Unfortunately, I’m down here in DC and it’s a normal work day for me. But I’ll be anxiously awaiting Matt’s play-by-play and the commentary to follow. It seems this should be one of the pivotal and more tense moments in the trial.

    3. Excellent comment, Jon. Excellent. Thought provoking. So many of us, whether from a law enforcement perspective or from a health perspective, are concerned with nailing the drug pushers and terrorists and major organized crime honchos, and we get furious that our DOJ, FBI, etc. seem to be fumbling the ball. I offer one parallel comment concerning the touted “skill” of federal prosecutors (and some do deserve praise) but remember Josef Mengele was a skillful physician as was Doctor Kevorkian as were certain notorious hanging judges skillful at law. Skill plus conscience plus humility plus sense of fair play, justice, proportionality, wisdom, prudence, mercy, kindness, due care, adherence to lawful constitutional principles, restraint. Skill alone? Skill plus zealotry? See the play by C.P. Taylor, “The Good.” I know, Matt, I’m repeating myself – – – but it’s for emphasis. Anyway Excellent, incisive overview, Jon.

      1. William,

        “Skill plus conscience plus humility plus sense of fair play, justice, proportionality, wisdom, prudence, mercy, kindness, due care, adherence to lawful constitutional principles, restraint.”

        Exactly.

        Plus, yes, I get furious to this day when I read about Hoover denying the existence of the mob. Especially given that it seems part of his denial was a result of his rivalry with Anslinger and thus a refusal to acknowledge that his “spotless” agency was behind in one the major crime-fighting efforts of the Bureau of Narcotics.

  3. Matt,

    Reading about Towers and Shea’s deference to Whitey reminds me of a story told by US Marshall John Partington in his book the Mob and Me. Partington was the guy charged with protecting Barboza while he was testifying. He says that as Barboza went up to the stand, at one point Raymond LS took his thumb and slid it across his neck, to imitate the notion of slitting the throat, and Barboza then went haywire and tried to attack Raymond, yelling “you f*** your dead mother in the mouth!”.

    Not sure if it actually happened, or if it happened in a setting different from the courtroom (Raymond would surely not be helping his cause), but I guess some guys are just absolutely crazy. As they say Barboza was.

    1. Jon:

      It very likely could have happened between Barboza and Patriarca. Putting gangsters in close proximity to each other brings out the best (worst) in each one.

      Old long term associations like die hard. Shea and Tower were accustomed to acting a certain way n front of Whitey. They fell back into the ‘old way’ without even knowing it.

      An article on Jon Corzine in the New York Times yesterday gives a sense of the effect a “boss” can have on an underling.

      http://www.nytimes.com/2013/07/06/business/moral-quandaries-at-mf-global.html?pagewanted=all&_r=0

      The normally morally upright Edith O’Brien entrusted to protect the client’s funds drops her moral constraints to please the “boss.” Tower and Shea were well aware of Whitey’s presence. That is what will make the Weeks’s testimony so compelling. Tower and Shea were telling the truth so they told a story Whitey knew was true even though they did it reluctantly but figured he knew that they were jammed in and had no choice; Weeks is telling lots of lies. There is a big difference and it will provide a lot of drama.

  4. Do you think Kevin Weeks will have to account for his masked man in the backseat during the Brian H kiiling? Your account of the body language and facial expressions of people on the stand is very interesting. I would hope Billy Bulger is put on the stand to settle quote unquote some longstanding questions.Pat Nee is also someone i would love to see on the witness stand. It seems as if the Boston office of the FBI is a place where criminals are protected as much as brought to justice. The J Edgar thought process of doing what the title of your book is still seems to be the number one criteria of the Boston office. I think what gets people angry about the FBI is that they will not release information that shows them in a negative light and when it spills out sometimes years and decades later they blame it on dead people like Paul Rico and Jerimiah Osullivan. You were sure right about the Globe and its hatred of Billy Bulger. At least Johnny Depp will not be making the movie based on the former globe writers book. A book I believed at the time but now no longer do. regards,

    1. (This is from John) Weeks seems to have been the apprentice amongst the veterans. Nee I would put in the same category as Whitey; he just had different motivations. Weeks never evolved to be anything but Whitey’s protege, which tells me that he is not made of the same ingredients. I get the feeling that Nee would not have rolled over in the same fashion that Weeks did. Facing serious time, he folded like a house of cards. In his gut, he knows Whitey wasn’t giving information of any significance on anyone within his inner circle, let alone anyone. Reading his book Brutal,it is hard not to ascertain that the man still has tremendous respect for Whitey. Weeks is the best example of a man who propagate Whitey’s legacy. Whitey had him star struck from the get go and did not let up. If anyone will draw an emotional outburst from Whitey, it will be Weeks. Whether Whitey controls himself is another question.

      1. Hi Matt: btw, I posted the above comment and did not mean to post anonomously. Just posted from my phone which I usually do not do. Regards

      2. Anonymous (John)

        I think you are right about Weeks. He was like the little kid copying the bigger guys. Weeks took his identity from Whitey, as Salemme called himself when Raymond Jr., made him and let him report directly to him, he was a king’s man. Weeks looked as himself as the king’s man luxuriating in the presence of Whitey.
        Weeks looked for any excuse to fold – fortunately he knew where the bodies were buried, literally.

        You are right about the outburst – Whitey already couldn’t hold himself in minor stuff – Weeks, if true to his book will say, “Jimmy was on the floor, too, with his arms wrapped around Debbie’s neck, his legs wrapped around her waist and her chest, squeezing, strangling her.”

        There’s no way he’ll sit through that.

    2. Norwood:

      It’s hard to answer that question of whether Weeks will be asked about the masked man. I am anxious to see him taken over the hurdles on that. But how does that help Whitey? Whether the guy is masked or not Weeks puts Whitey with the machine gun. I don’t see Carney playing around with it too much unless he’s going to suggest it was Weeks and Flemmi who murdered Callahan along with Pat Nee. It’s hard ot call since I don’t know what strategy Whitey and Carney have devised on that murder.
      Billy Bulger won’t take the stand.

      It is a shame the FBI is so afraid of embarrassment that its whole outfit is set up with that as its primary goal. Then we learn the other odd things like people can have files set up on them calling them informants without any knowledge that has been done. I’ve never understood how they can partner up with gangsters and not come out losers.

      Here we have gangsters telling the most incredible stories about agents and people believing them. It could have all been avoided if after Hoover died someone came in an looked around and told the guys (it was then all guys) to go out and do the job the best they can. No doubt there are a lot of good FBI agents but they are trapped in a strange culture that would in my opinion let the USA go down as long as the FBI was left in tact.

      1. I think the question about the masked man will come up in court. It is not really believable that Weeks wouldn’t know who it was. While not admissible we have heard here (and I recall other places) that the other participant was not masked. So….If he says he doesn’t know, it can be used to question his credibility. If he says who it is and for the sake of discussion, he says Pat Nee, this will cause palpitations for Wyshak.

        The defense has nothing to lose by asking the question, do they. The defense can possibly have a chance to challenge the credibility of the witness if he has all the details down to the width of a hair but doesn’t know that fact.

        Unless one of the legal eagles can set me straight on what I am missing, I think the defense would be irresponsible NOT to ask that question.

        1. Another:

          Whitey does not want to emphasize his involvement in that murder. It will be interesting to see if he denies it. If he is gong to deny it, then the mask will come up, if he’s going to admit it under some type self defense theory he may not go into it. I don’t know what strategy they take and depending on that the issue of the mask will rise or fall.

          1. In the spirit of looking at it from another angle, perhaps if weeks says he doesn’t know who the other participant was for certain, then how can he know Mr. Bulger was there for certain? Perhaps the defense that doesn’t admit to being there uses the lack of knowledge to support Jimmy’s claim he wasn’t there either?

            Just tossing that out as a possibility?

  5. Sixty years ago the CIA engineered a coup in Iran. It replaced Iran’s elected leader Mossadeq with the Shah ( military rule) resulting in a century of animosity by the Iranians toward the USA. It was done mostly for commercial reasons so BP could maximize it’s return. Today we see the Obama administration replacing the elected leader of Egypt with a military hunta.( one call from the WH could restore Morsi) Will we get a century of hate from the Egyptians? 2. Showing Nee to be the masked man will be vital for Carney. It shows Weeks to be a liar and proves that he is protecting a confederate. When Weeks first co operates WB is gone for over three years. Substitute Nee for WB at the scene of these killings and what has been proven against the defendant. Plus show Weeks abuse of his girlfriend Janice. 3. If Weeks statement that he would say anything to get out of prison can be shown to be truthful and not a joke or exaggeration his credibility will be severely undercut. 4. Remember that no dna of WB is found on the guns and none is found at the murder scene, burial scene or on the victims bodies. 4. Connecting WB to gaming, cocaine and Marijuana shakedowns is beneficial to the defense. The prosecution’s case is much stronger in that area and the murder cases appear much weaker in comparison. Booking, Coke and grass are more in the area of malum prohibitum than malum per se. Casinos and all forms of gambling are legal across the entire nation. Marijuana is legal in many areas and back in the eighties Judge Elwood McKinney legalized cocaine in Suffolk County. Was WB just engaged in some harmless vices ( excepting coke)?

    1. Neal,

      I would disagree somewhat with your account of the coup in Iran. The notion that the CIA engineered a coup has become a simplified account of a very complicated story in which you had two competing political forces vying for control of the Iranian government: Mossadeq’s faction and the shah’s faction. I’m not an expert on this history, but my understanding is that this was an Iranian story, not a story about Western imperialism. In other words, you had two forces vying for control who sought help from external forces (America, Russia, Britain). So yes, the CIA had a role in supplying funds and support, but in fact the CIA was one among several factors influencing the outcome of events. Mossadeq had gained popularity going back to the 20s and built a name for himself trying to nationalize oil ventures and support hard-working Iranian people and all that, but he was primarily interested in his own political aggrandizement, and he also hated the Shah. So much so that he began to exile members of the shah’s family and this upset the Iranian clergy and perhaps other factions, which mobilized forces of opposition that played out in 1953 when the shah tried to arrest Mossadeq, but Mossadeq got word beforehand and was waiting to meet his arresters, and the indecisive shah got spooked and fled the country, which led to a protracted struggle in Parliament and in the streets, ultimately leading to Mossadeq’s forced resignation, at which point the shah was sent a message to come back to the country. The CIA no doubt was among the factors influencing events, but I’ve discussed this history with a knowledgeable friend and my takeaway is that it was much more of a story about internal Iranian politics than a story about the destructive intervention of Western imperialism.

    2. N:

      1. Don’t start going back through history – it’s dangerous since you know it is all in the eye of the beholder. You wrote “one call from the WH could restor Morsi.” I don’t think Whitey can make any calls from Plymouth.
      2. How about if Whitey did not murder Halloran and Weeks made the whole thing up and he put a mask on a guy because he couldn’t figure out who was there since he wasn’t.
      Weeks said he threatened to thrown Janice Connolly into a landfill. He then said after they they got back together again. Do you Janice had a choice?
      3. Weeks’s crdibility will be a problem in any event.
      4. Connecting Whitey to anything is bad for Whitey unless everything is thrown out.

  6. Im at a point in this case where all truths known are gone! As matt has talked of scrubbing the memory of all the past lies (e.g:blackmass)my mind wanders to the jail convos where whiteys nephew is talking to wb and says yeah as always, when they put wb name in the mix! WB is the fall guy here, for almost everything, he ran and took off. so theese guys started devising a plan, lets blame jimmy. first flemmi, then hitman and then 2weeks and now even nee. the last two testified on weichels behalf that WB and zip framed him. weeks, he said jimmy told him to blame him if anything goes down, a total lie, WB hates rats, he is an old school con from Alcatraz. did 8 years or so for a bank robbery in a time when a walpole 20 meant you did 16 months. So ive seen that WB is no angel, but theese guys are all turning on him since his departure,then the fbi and judge Wolfe came out w the informant files and it was a good as any reason to rat on him. He ratted on me frst, as Weeks put in his book, an unknown guy said to him,”you cant rat on a rat”, a total bs thing for a wiseguy to say, of course he is unnamed, weeks named everyone to the guy who delivered him yet this guy is unnamed,cmon kevvy!! i know i come across as a naive but my stand is that he took off, they got pinched and the geniuses said he is aan informant,poof a plan was hatched!

    1. PAT2E

      It is amazing to me also that when I began to look closer at these matters I found the books that were written were more like fairy tales than true. Whitey was Mr. No. 1 in Southie; the chief prosecutor has a hang up on Southie and the Bulgers – why not the gangsters figure feed his paranoia.

      Even before Whitey was indicted in ’85 the FBI told Donald Stern he was an informant. Wyshak would have also known at that time. The problem is the FBI only had a file marked “Whitey the Informant” but no one really knew if he was an informant just because Connolly set up the file saying he was. If the government is to show he’s an informant it has yet to show he provided any information that could have been used by it in any investigation. The information about drug dealing in Southie was in other informant files.

      Weeks didn’t need an excuse to turn state’s evidence. He would have done anything to stay out of prison.

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