Last Thursday we covered the first 65 years of Whitey’s life: 19 years (’29 – ’48) a juvenile delinquent; 4 years (’48 – ’52) in Air Force, 4 years (’52 – ’56) bank robber, 11 years (’56 – ’65) jail bird, and the last 29 years (’65 – ’94) a gangster 23 (’71 – ’94) of which being a song bird (canary) for and protected by the FBI. He became an honorary FBI special agent, also known as a Top Echelon Informant, over the last 19 years. He worked with the FBI longer than most agents who retire after 20 years. Just after turning 65 he fled.
Whitey who had spent the 1994 holidays in New Orleans with his older girlfriend, Theresa Stanley, was heading back to Boston on January 5, 1995, when he heard on the radio his partner Stevie Flemmi had been arrested. He fled. A few weeks later he exchanged his older girlfriend for his younger one, Catherine Greig. Theresa it is said pined for her kids; Catherine only had a couple of poodles. According to some she and Whitey loved the poodles and missed them more than if they were their kids.
Whitey was gone for 16 years. During the early part of those flight years minimal effort was made to find him. News of his sighting would seem to come up periodically. He was spotted in Florida or California during the cold months and a group of FBI agents would leave frigid New England and head to those areas for weeks at a time disguising themselves on the beaches. In the spring or fall he was usually spotted in Europe (sometimes South America). The agents would spend their time combing the capitals of the Old World. It was becoming a nice life looking for him. Some suggest that explains the indifference to finding him in the first several years.
The truth was that no one in the FBI wanted him captured. Up until his flight he was still being slipped information and investigations against him were still being thwarted by the FBI even though he’d cease being an informant on the books since 1990 and Connolly had retired. Only after a dozen years did a real effort begin when most of those he had played with were safely retired.
Back in Whitey’s days if one kid from Southie asked another where he was from the answer could come back in the form of a Catholic Church. By identifying the Church, you knew the section of Southie. If you lived in the Old Harbor Village you’d say you were from Saint Monica’s. So it’s sort of intriguing that Whitey decided to settle down in Santa Monica.
That’s where he settled in for 15 years of his 16 year flight as our G Men looked all over the world for him. He lived in a two bedroom, two bathroom unit in the Princess Eugenia complex which was rent-controlled at $1,145.00 a month. He always paid in cash.
Not much of a life in your waning years. He could have done just as well had he stayed as a janitor in the Suffolk County courthouse, the job Billy got for him when he got out of the Air Force. He could have lived comfortably back in Saint Monica’s and been able to put his head down on his pillow at night and know he wasn’t going to end up in prison some day and walked across Colombia park with a pair of poodles to Carson beach or even up to the L Street bathhouse.
Kevin “Two Weeks” Weeks in his glorification of Whitey, Jim as he always called him, suggests Whitey would say to him let’s go to hell together. He’d tell Kevin how he would go down in a blaze of gunfire taking down whoever came after him. Maybe Whitey did envision himself holed up in the third floor apartment firing his AK 47 back at the cops as they fired tear gas into his apartment like in the old gangster movies with his moll Catherine Greig reloading his weapons in his magnificent fight to the finish. It was not to be.
On June 22, 2011, Whitey’s flight ended. He was arrested at his apartment building. He had over $800,000 in cash and a stash of guns. He had been hiding behind his now famous beard.
Today he’s in the Plymouth County House of Corrections sitting in his cell most hours talking to himself or the poor guard assigned to listen to his ranting about the good old days. His room is close to an ocean where he likes to live. His family visits him. He’s not allowed into general population. He’s hoping for a change for the better.
Whitey’s no longer thinking of going down in a blaze of glory. Come to think of it, he probably never did. Whitey always preferred gunfights where the other side was unarmed and where he and his buddies were the ones with the guns.
Whitey now wants to live as long as possible. He’s working hard to avoid going to those states that want to fry him. If he pulls off what he’s hoping to do it’ll be the scam of his lifetime.
Here’s what he wants. A deal to life in prison. A sentence to the cushy Federal Prison Camp in Pensacola. It is near the water, he can have visits Fridays through Sunday and a lot of freedom. He wants to avoid a cell for him in ADX in Colorado where he belongs which will give him a peek at his afterlife. A former warden described ADX as “a cleaner version of Hell”.
I’ll tell you in a future post why Whitey may end up living better than he did in the Santa Monica apartment.