The Murders to Protect Winter Hill- JAMES SOUSA

October 6, 1974-

John Martorano was sentenced to 14 years in prison rather than the twelve recommended by the federal prosecutor Fred Wyshak. Wyshak justified it by saying Martorano gave valuable assistance, “the sad truth is none of the murders in which he had been involved would have ever been solved had he not confessed.“  This was less than accurate. There were others involved in Martorano’s murders with him who could have implicated him in them. Flemmi would have gladly done it to get his special deal from the federal prosecutors.

Judge Mark Wolf rightly noted that Martorano was a “calculating opportunist” beating his fellow prisoners in the race to make a deal with the federal prosecutors. The prosecutors offered stunning deals to John Martorano, Steve Flemmi, and Kevin Weeks because their target was “Whitey” Bulger. Not only that, they allowed Martorano to avoid testifying against others involved in murders with him such as Howie Winter and Pat Nee. Whitey, except by reputation, was much less of a criminal than either Martorano, Winter or Flemmi. That is for another story time.

Martorano decided to cooperate having been arrested on charges of racketeering as set out in a January 1995 indictment. On that charge alone he was exposed to 20 years in prison and may very well have received a sentence equal to or more than the sentence he received when the twenty murders were added on.

The question that overhangs this sordid affair is whether you give a murderer credit for confessing to his crime?  Consider if Carmel Cofer goes missing and months later an attorney arrives at the police station to strike a deal. She says her client, Carmel’s husband Michael, is willing to confess to the murder and disclose where he buried her body on the condition he gets a sentence of one year in jail. Should the prosecutor agree to make the deal if she has no other evidence of his involvement? Should every person who confesses to murdering another person get a huge credit because of that?

At the sentencing of John Martorano, Barbara Sousa, the widow of James Sousa, spoke. She told the court that she never saw her husband after October 6, 1974. Then she put everything in a nut shell. “It is very hard to understand how a man who has admitted to killing twenty people can be regarded as giving ‘valuable assistance’ to anyone.”

James Sousa made little news during his lifetime. What is known about him comes from John Martorano, whose words, as we have seen, have a flimsy relationship with the truth.

Here’s Martorano’s story:  Tony “Fat Tony” Ciulla, who would become a government witness in the race-fixing case against the leadership of the Winter Hill gang, knew Sousa. Ciulla gave Sousa some gold samples to show a dentist who wanted to invest in gold. He examined them and was satisfied with the quality. Sousa told him he had a crate of gold he could sell. They agreed to a price and set the time and place of delivery.

There was no crate of gold to sell. The had planned to rip off the dentist. A crate would be filled with gold painted bricks. The dentist would inspect the crate, see that what was promised was there, hand over the money for the crate, and then take it.

To avoid the dentist learning they sold him a crate of bricks, they would have associates come in and hold up the dentist and take the crate away. That way they would have the money and the fake gold leaving the dentist without anything to complain about as far as their performance in the deal.

To rob the dentist, Ciulla lined up Billy Barnoski. Both men would be named in an indictment charging them with race fixing in 1976. For a second gunman, Ciulla brings in Winter Hill’s Joe McDonald. When the dentist arrives, he is with his ten-year-old son. He smells a rat. He sees the Barnoski and McDonald approaching him with guns.

The dentist takes out his gun and shoots at them. They flee the scene. The police arrive.  Sousa is arrested at the scene.  Ciulla grabs the son to protect himself and drives around the block before letting him out. The dentist knows Sousa and identifies him. The Winter Hill gang is worried Sousa will identify Joe McDonald.

To protect him, Martorano and Steve Flemmi arrange for Ciulla to bring Sousa to the garage on Marshall Street. In his book Martorano writes: “They told Sousa to go into the back office. . . “  Sousa waits there.  Martorano “walked back into the back office as Sousa watched him. Suddenly he drew a .38 caliber revolver from his coast pocket and shot Sousa in the head.” He then wrote: “Stevie rushed in and grabbed a paint bucket to catch the blood . . ..” Joe McDonald and Jimmy Sims took the body and disposed of it. It was never recovered.

The story seems odd. Martorano said Sousa was arrested at the scene but what charges could have been made against him? He did not do any shooting.  Neither did Barnoski or McDonald. The dentist could not prove Sousa set it up. None of it makes sense when examined closely. However, examining their stories closely is probably the last thing guys like Martorano and Flemmi want folk to do.

One thought on “The Murders to Protect Winter Hill- JAMES SOUSA

Comments are closed.

Discover more from Trekking Toward the Truth

Subscribe now to keep reading and get access to the full archive.

Continue reading