As you may recall, Wimpy Bennett and Fats Buccelli were arrested and did time for having some of the Brink’s money in their possession. Wimpy was only incarcerated this one time even though he was up to his ears in the rackets. Wimpy was a guy that no one really trusted. It was rare that he smiled. He always looked like he was planning things. He operated with the blessing of Raymond Patriarca. Wimpy often visited Raymond while carrying a brown bag filled with money.
His relationship to the Mafia did him in. He was Irish. John Martorano explained in his book that Larry Baione had two reasons for wanting Wimpy murdered. First, he was Irish. Next, Larry thought Wimpy was sneaky. The Boston Mafia people believed Wimpy was a spy on them for Raymond Patriarca
Wimpy discovered Steve Flemmi soon after Flemmi’s discharge from the army as a corporal on February 1, 1955. He taught Steve the ropes, especially how to be a loan shark. Wimpy also included Steve’s brother, Jimmy, as part of the team.
Some suggested Wimpy taught Steve the benefits of being an informant for the FBI. It was said of Wimpy after his demise by some that he had been an FBI informant. There is no substantiation of this I have seen. Most likely it was a fabrication to justify his murder.
Wimpy did lead a vile criminal life with few consequences, but perhaps because he paid off the local cops. Or, like Steve Flemmi and James “Whitey” Bulger, Wimpy may have been able to lead his criminal enterprise because the FBI protected him. I happen to go with the first idea because of his arrest with the Brink’s money which he must have received from one of the men who pulled off that heist. If he were an FBI informant, his Brink’s knowledge would have been valued highly by the FBI but it did not have it.
Wimpy owned the Dudley Lounge at 247 Dudley Street, in Roxbury. On March 28, 1964, the police found Andrew Pappas in the gutter on 236 Dudley Street, Roxbury. Investigating, the police reported that Vincent (Jimmy) Flemmi, 30, the manager of the Dudley Lounge on that day, saw two men fleeing the scene. Most likely the stabbing occurred in the Dudley Lounge and Jimmy dragged the body outside, and across the street, and then call the police. It saved a lot of problems with the Licensing Board not to take ownership of it.
All the gangsters hung out at the Dudley Lounge at one time or another. A police officer testified at the murder trial of George McLaughlin that he arrested McLaughlin and O’Toole on June 11, 1963, for drunkenness and assault and battery after a fight in the Dudley Lounge. Frankie Benjamin was murdered there, and the place was set on fire.
Wimpy was also allegedly involved in having Henry Reddington murdered. That allegation may or may not be true, but it was the word among the gangsters. He was thought to control all the rackets in Roxbury and the South End. He always wore a hat covering up his baldness; when he could not do that, he wore a wig. Wimpy was subpoenaed to give evidence in the Boston Brink’s heist before a federal grand jury. It was wrongly believed he had something to do with the robbery. More likely he may have known who was involved because he was caught with some of the hot money from it.
Wimpy had the nickname “The Great Deceiver” because of his ability to set one gangster against the other and not be touched himself. He was widely credited incorrectly for most of the gangland murders during this period. FBI notes of its electronic surveillance targeting Raymond Patriaca, indicated that in early November 1964 Patriarca “warned [Sammy] Granito to be careful of “Wimpy” Bennett.”
Wimpy had the reputation for being dour, dangerous, and deceitful. Members of the Boston Mafia most likely approached Raymond Patriarca over their lack of trust of him. Whatever story they came up with was enough to gain permission from Patriarca to murder him. .
Salemme who said that all that mattered to Steve Flemmi was money and women told the story that Flemmi was upset that he was not getting his share of the numbers racket in which he was a partner. Flemmi put a gun to the head of Peter Poulos and demanded to know where his cut of the money was going. Poulos said he had given it to Wimpy.
According to Salemme, a day or two later, Wimpy came to Salemme’s garage. Flemmi put the same question to Poulos who repeated what he had previously stated. Wimpy stammered and stuttered. Flemmi put a gun to his head and murdered him.
Flemmi’s story about how he murdered Wimpy was different. Putting the stories together, it was clear from the stories that it was done at the behest of Larry Baione and others in the Mafia.
The true story leading up to Wimpy’s demise is probably quite different from the Flemmi and Salemme stories but relatively straight forward. The local Mafia did not like him. They had their Italian friends who were part of his gang. They cleared the hit with Patriarca. Once they got his okay, the local Boston mafia told their Italian friends in Wimpy’s gang to do him in.
The evidence seems clear that Larry Baione was the moving force behind Wimpy’s murder. Flemmi claims he murdered him. Salemme agrees that Flemmi murdered Wimpy. That cannot be discounted. They would have had the opportunities to murder him as they were part of his gang.
Salemme said he arranged to have a spot to bury him. Salemme infers that only he knew about the burying spot. Others suggest it was known by several others who helped with the burial. Flemmi said the Somerville hoodlums, Jimmy Sims and Joe McDonald were the guys who helped did the grave. I have to wonder how they got into the mixture.
The big problem I see with the story is that the murder was in January in New England. The ground in Hopkington where the burial allegedly occurred would have been frozen as hard as concrete. It would be impossible to dig into it without power tools. It is hard to escape the idea that the Hopkington story is an elaborate fabrication.
Wimpy’s body was never found again. Salemme turned state’s evidence. As part of his deal, he had to point out the spot where he said he buried Bennett and his brother. Despite days of digging by the law enforcement, no body was found. Was it ever there?
Flemmi testified before Judge Wolf in 1998. Judge Wolf disclosed that an FBI report from FBI Agent Paul Rico said that Flemmi told him Baione was responsible for the recent murder of Wimpy Bennett. But Judge Wolf found that Flemmi’s statement fit a “pattern of false statements placed in Flemmi’s informant file to divert attention from his crimes and/or FBI misconduct.” In other words, he accused Agent Paul Rico of fabricating a report to protect Flemmi. But did he?
Because a report placed in an informant’s file turns out to be false does not mean the FBI agent falsified it. The informant could very well have been the one giving the false information and the FBI agent simply recorded what he was told. We have only two alternatives: first, that Flemmi told Rico that Baione eliminated Wimpy in order to cover-up his having done so and Rico was just reporting what he had been told; or, Flemmi never say anything to Rico about it but Rico put it into his FBI informant file that Flemmi said it to protect Flemmi.
Judge Wolf took on the task of believing or disbelieving evidence offered without corroboration without explaining why he believed one thing over the other. For instance, Flemmi said he had an informant on the State Police named John Naimovich. Judge Wolf believed that to be true. Wolf not only believed that, but he also went on to write that Naimovich was convicted of corruption in the same courthouse where he sat.
The truth was quite different. Flemmi’s informant in the State Police was not Naimovich but Richard Schneiderhan. Further, Naimovich was acquitted, not convicted. At times one feels Judge Wolf is merely tossing a coin as to what to believe or not believe. What Wolf seemed to miss it that the big problem in a case before him was that these gangsters had years together in prison to concoct whatever story they wanted.
At common law, a legal principle derived from Roman jurisprudence stated “falsus in uno, falsus in omnibus” meaning “false in one thing, false in everything.” Applying that principle, the law was that a witness who testifies falsely about one matter is not credible to testify about any other matter. It makes eminent sense as I pointed out because trying to determine when a liar is telling the truth is a fool’s errand.
Keep in mind this extremely important fact when reading about these murders. What the criminals say about the murders is often false. As for Flemmi, Salemme, Martorano and others with coinciding stories, remember this: these men were incarcerated together from the beginning of 1995 at the Plymouth House of Corrections with continuing access to each other and FBI informant reports running back for several years. Judge Wolf wrote: “In late June 1997, the court ordered that the government disclose to the defendants information relating to the pending motions. Thus, a great many documents which the FBI expected would never be seen by anyone outside the Bureau were produced and, in many instances, made part of the public record.”
I often wonder why Judge Wolf did not see the inconsistency in his findings that, on the one hand, FBI Agent Rico put false statements into the FBI files to divert attention from “FBI misconduct” and, yet on the other hand, the FBI never wanted or expected these files to go public. Unfortunately, Judge Wolf was played like a fiddle by the defendants and their lawyers because he did not appreciate how they operated.
Judge Wolf remarkably could not comprehend the consequences of keeping the government witnesses together in one jail where they not only had freedom to discuss and plot among themselves, but they also had access to all internal files the FBI had on them, including informant files. These murderers turned witnesses had nothing but tons of time, time is what is plentiful in jail, to come up with whatever stories they wanted. How could Judge Wolf not realize that he was getting stories, not the facts? Perhaps Judge Wolf wanted to believe in the gangsters because it is often repeated that Judge Wolf had a strange fascination for Mafia gangsters.
The only thing we do know for sure is Wimpy vanished in January 1967. He was probably murdered by Steven Flemmi at the urging of Larry Baione. It is highly uncertain where his body was disposed of. Getting him off the scene opened up his business to the Italians including Flemmi and the Boston Mafia. As you will see with Wimpy’s brother, Walter Bennet, the gangster story about his murder is clearly false.