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Authors: The Brothers Bulger: How They Terrorized,Corrupted Boston for a Quarter Century

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Howie Carr

BOOK: Howie Carr
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Copyright © 2006 by Howie Carr

All rights reserved.

Warner Books

Hachette Book Group

237 Park Avenue, New York, NY 10017

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The Warner Books Publishing name and logo is a trademark of Hachette Book Group, Inc.

First eBook Edition: February 2006

ISBN: 978-0-446-50614-4


























For Kathy and my father


First, I’d like to thank my beautiful wife, Kathy, and our three lovely daughters: Carolyn, Charlotte, and Christina.

Without the help of everyone at the
Boston Herald
, where I have worked for so many years, I could never have written this book. Thanks especially to publisher Patrick Purcell, editorial director Ken Chandler, former editors Andy Costello and Andrew Gully, and to all the reporters, photographers, columnists, and editors going back to the days of Hearst, especially Joe Heaney. My gratitude as well to the
’s peerless library staff, especially, in recent years, Al Thibeault, John Cronin, and Chris Donnelly.

Thanks to my literary agents, Larry Moulter and Helen Rees, and to my editors at Warner Books, first Rick Horgan, now at Crown, and later Les Pockell. Also, thanks to my “book doctor,” Jeff Kellogg, whose assistance was invaluable. My researcher, Stuart Horwitz, also did fine work, obtaining interviews from people who might not have spoken to me, and he always persevered, despite the occasional brush-off.

Also, I owe much to some reporters at the
Boston Globe
with whom I have worked (and competed against), although I won’t name them for fear of damaging their future prospects. But I must single out two people who no longer work on Morrissey Boulevard—former
staffers Dick Lehr and Gerard O’Neill. In many ways their 1999 book
Black Mass
lit the path for others to follow. In particular, their work on the 75 State Street scandal, first for the newspaper and then in their book, cannot be overpraised.

The information provided to me in the preparation of this book came from more people than I could ever hope to list, even if they wanted me to, which I believe most of them don’t. They know who they are, and they know how much I am in their debt. Thanks to one and all, especially to the survivors, and that is not too melodramatic a word to use when considering what so many people involved in this sordid story have endured over the past forty or so years.

I would also like to express my appreciation to, in no particular order, and for various reasons: Chris Lydon, Nancy Shack, Larry Bruce, Michael Goldman, and Jon Keller, and among those who are now gone, Jerry Williams, Paul Corsetti, Jackie McDermott, and Fred Langone.

If I have neglected to mention anyone by name who wanted to be so identified, I apologize. Better safe than sorry, even now.


based upon material gathered from both the public record and interviews I have conducted and documents I have procured during the last twenty-five-plus years, working as a reporter and columnist for the
Boston Herald
, a reporter for several Boston TV stations, and as a radio talk show host.

None of the incidents or dialogue in this book are imagined. This is a work of nonfiction. Much of the information came from bugs and wiretaps, among them the 1981 FBI recordings of the Angiulo brothers’ conversations with their associates at the gang’s headquarters at 98 Prince Street in the North End. Another source of material came from the FBI recording of the Mafia initiation ceremonies in Medford in 1989. Other material came from various criminal trials and filings in court cases. Large portions of this book are based on testimony during U.S. District Court Judge Mark Wolf’s hearings in 1998 in the case of
U.S. v. Francis P. Salemme et al.
Other material comes from earlier books that have been written about some of these events, and I have tried to cite those works in this book whenever it was appropriate.

During Judge Wolf’s hearings, hundreds of previously classified FBI documents were turned over to the defendants and/or made public, and these were made available to me during the writing of this book. I have also had access to previously unreleased documents, including videotapes, police reports, Whitey Bulger’s military records, and his complete writings on the LSD experiments in which he took part at the Atlanta Federal Penitentiary in the late 1950s.

Some of the dialogue comes from the St. Patrick’s Day breakfasts that William M. Bulger hosted every March through 1996. I have also read most of the
Boston Herald
’s newspaper clipping files on the major characters in this account. Those files include reports from both major daily newspapers in Boston, as well as, in earlier years, stories in such now defunct newspapers as the
Record American
, the
Sunday Advertiser
, the
, and the
Evening Globe

I was present at both congressional committee hearings to which William M. Bulger was subpoenaed to testify in 2002–03.

Full disclosure: The lawyer at various points for both William M. Bulger and corrupt FBI agent John “Zip” Connolly was R. Robert Popeo, who has also represented me in two investigations of my tax returns, one by the Internal Revenue Service and the other by the Massachusetts Department of Revenue. I have always maintained, and continue to do so, that both probes were politically motivated, and no charges were ever filed.

Harvard Law School Professor Alan Dershowitz, who is mentioned here in connection with the appointment of William Bulger’s aide Paul Mahoney as a district court judge in 1990, represented my wife in a 1998 libel action against two broadcast networks and radio talk show host Don Imus. That lawsuit was settled out of court.

When Steven “Stippo” Rakes, whose story is told in chapter 13, was convicted of perjury in U.S. District Court, at his request I, along with many others, including the late Congress-man J. Joseph Moakley, wrote to his judge before sentencing. I asked the judge to consider the unusual circumstances of Rakes’s action, and urged him to impose a lenient sentence. I would write the same letter again. (Rakes received probation.)

During the heyday of the Bulger gang, I was indirectly threatened several times by Whitey’s minions. At one point in the late 1980s I worked at a TV station in Dorchester near the South Boston Liquor Mart, Whitey’s store. One of my coworkers, the son of a former mayor of Boston, often stopped in at the store. A store employee once inquired of my colleague why, although I drove by the store almost daily and often saw Whitey and Stevie Flemmi conducting business outside, I had never once pulled into the parking lot, let alone entered the store. My friend nervously said he had no idea why I preferred to patronize the package store in Andrew Square.

“Tell him we got a Dumpster out back waiting for him,” the unidentified gang member told my colleague. “It’ll be another Robin Benedict.”

Robin Benedict was a prostitute in Boston’s red-light district, the Combat Zone, who was murdered by an infatuated Tufts University professor; her body was never found.

After Whitey’s flight, a photographer for the
ran into Kevin Weeks at a tanning salon in Framingham, and Weeks informed him that the gang had once known where I lived— next to a graveyard in Acton.

On another organized crime wiretap, a gang associate was recorded as saying Whitey was “henshit” at me after
magazine, for which I freelanced at the time, estimated his net worth at $50 million. Whitey, according to the associate, concluded (erroneously) that I was trying to set him up for a “snatch” by Italian gangsters.

Billy Bulger did not like my coverage of him either at the State House or later during his tenure as president of the University of Massachusetts. At the State House, he referred to me publicly at least once as “the savage,” and during his sworn testimony in 2003 described stories I had written as “savaging” the daughter of his brother’s girlfriend, who was on a public payroll. At the hearing, he blamed many of his problems on “the tabloid talk show stuff in Boston.” I work for both a tabloid and a talk show.

During the televised congressional hearings in 2003 I sat two rows directly behind Billy during the morning session. In full view of the C-SPAN camera, I periodically grimaced, made faces, stuck out my tongue, rolled my eyes, and grabbed my throat when I thought Billy was being less than forthcoming in his testimony.

For this performance I was criticized in some quarters, and applauded in others.

In the summer of 2003, I was approached, informally, by a representative of Governor Mitt Romney about becoming a member of the board of trustees of the University of Massachusetts, along with, according to press reports, Professor Dershowitz and retired judge E. George Daher, the first man to refer to Billy Bulger as a “corrupt midget.” I immediately said that if offered the position of trustee, I would accept it.

Shortly after he was informed of the likely appointments of the three of us to his board, Billy resigned as president of the university. Others were then appointed to the UMass board of trustees.

Finally, I am in no way related to Howard T. “Howie” Winter, who preceded Whitey Bulger as boss of the Winter Hill Gang. Winter and I do share the same first name and nickname and at different times Winter and I did live one street apart in the Spring Hill section of the city of Somerville. My home was on Montrose Street and he resided on Madison Street, but that is the only connection between us.

Boston is a small town. Somerville is smaller yet.


spot. This time he couldn’t take the Fifth Amendment when a congressman asked him if he knew where his fugitive gangster brother was hiding out, with a $1 million bounty on his head.

It was June 19, 2003, and the sixty-nine-year-old president of the University of Massachusetts was sitting in a packed hearing room in the basement of the Rayburn Office Building in Washington, D.C. For six months, ever since he’d stonewalled the House Committee on Government Reform in Boston, William Michael Bulger had called in every chit, pulled every string, to prevent this moment from arriving.

But the reality was that despite his $359,000-a-year salary, Billy Bulger was no longer the most powerful man in Massachusetts politics, and he could not defy Congress.

His brother James—better known by his nickname of Whitey—had been on the lam for more than nine years now. He was on the FBI’s Ten Most Wanted List, charged with nineteen murders, and two years earlier his wanted poster had appeared briefly in the film
. But Whitey hadn’t actually been seen in the United States since 1996, and he was slowly making his way into the pantheon of vanished legends—Ambrose Bierce, D. B. Cooper, Jimmy Hoffa, Judge Crater . . .

Billy had bought a new suit for his appearance before Congress. It was from Brooks Brothers on Newbury Street, to Billy the epitome of upper-crust Yankee respectability. Everyone back in Boston would be watching the C-SPAN feed that was being broadcast on every major TV station in the city.

The committee chairman was Tom Davis, a Virginia Republican, Amherst College ’71, and Billy had tried to play the Amherst card with him—hey, can’t we work something out? In Boston, they had negotiated over a closed-door hearing—no cameras, no damnable reporters. But word had leaked, and now Davis was gaveling the public hearing to order.

The chairman asked Billy if he wished to make a statement before the questioning began. Billy looked down at a prepared text, which had already been distributed to the press.

“I now recognize,” Billy said of his brother, hesitantly, without a trace of his fabled cockiness, “that I didn’t fully grasp the dimensions of his life.”

It was a far cry from what he’d proudly told newspaper reporters of his brother in 1988: “There is much to admire.”

Billy was now immunized—nothing he said could be used against him, unless he lied. But he could no longer invoke his Fifth Amendment privilege against self-incrimination. He was faced with a Clintonian dilemma, and there was only one way out. He would have to... not remember.

“I am particularly sorry,” Billy continued, “to think that he may have been guilty of some of the horrible things of which he is accused.”

BOOK: Howie Carr
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