Former mob boss and fugitive James "Whitey" Bulger was arrested in San Monica, CA on June 21, 2011 along with his longtime girlfriend. Bulger is currently on trial in Boston for murder and racketeering and has angrily cursed in open court. His own lawyer has described him as a mobster and one potential witness turned up dead on the side of the road.
Bulger was sentenced to two life terms plus five years has been ordered to pay $6 million to the family of a slain Oklahoma businessman and to pay $19.5 million in restitution to his other victims' families. He was found guilty in 11 of the 19 killings he was accused of, along with dozens of other gangland crimes, including shakedowns and money laundering.
BOSTON - Some things seem to capture the public perception of gangster James "Whitey" Bulger's life: a sterling silver "psycho killer" skull ring, a rat-shaped pencil holder, a stack of books about mobsters. Others things tell of a mundane, domestic life in hiding: a coffee pot, a muffin pan, a few dozen T-shirts and pyjamas.
Hundreds of items from both sides of Style Bulger's life are going on the auction block as the federal government attempts to raise money for the families of Bulger's victims, including 20 people killed by his gang.
"We're hoping to be able to use his fame — if that's what you want to call it — to generate some higher prices for some of this stuff, the theme here is to just try to get as much as we can for the victims" said the assistant chief inspector for the U.S. Marshals Service asset forfeiture division.
During an auction preview, U.S. Attorney Carmen Ortiz acknowledged that auctioning Bulger's belongings is "a little distasteful." "We didn't want to glamorize him. At the end of the day we were guided by trying to make the victims whole through restitution."
Ortiz said many of the items have little intrinsic value but could attract bidders simply because they were owned by Bulger.
The auction will include only a handful of valuable items, notably a diamond ring appraised at $15,000 to $20,000, and a 14-karat gold Claddagh ring with a heart-cut diamond, appraised at $10,000 to $15,000. There is also a replica 1986 Montreal Canadiens Stanley Cup championship ring.
Geoff Schumacher, content director for The Mob Museum in Las Vegas, said he plans to participate in the on-line auction.
Schumacher said the museum would be interested in Bulger's personal belongings.
"There's a very simple appeal of having something in your own possession that was once owned by someone famous — or in Whitey Bulger's case, infamous," he said.
The proceeds fetched $109,295.
Before Irish mob boss James (Whitey) Bulger went into hiding in 1995, the ruthless Boston gangster secretly arranged to have untold millions of dollars stored in safety-deposit boxes in Ontario and Quebec, FBI intelligence reports show.
FBI documents also show that the 71-year-old crime boss arranged for the deposits in haste, then skipped town days before a federal indictment on 18 counts of murder and numerous charges of extortion, drug-running and money laundering.
FBI agents tracking Mr. Bulger believe he may have followed his money into Canada and assumed a new identity.
FBI agents say the trail of money, his links to Montreal, and our country's revered health care system are solid reasons to believe Mr. Bulger, now on heart medication, is hiding out in Canada.
"Those are the points in the investigation, plus the Canadian border is easy to get past," said special agent Gail Marcinkiewicz of the FBI's Boston office.
"There have also been unconfirmed sightings in Ontario and Montreal," the special agent said.
The FBI has posted a $1-million U.S. reward for the capture of Mr. Bulger, who is on the 10 most-wanted list.
Mr. Bulger is considered armed and violent. His weapon of choice is a knife and FBI agents say he doesn't think twice about pulling it.
Mr. Bulger is believed to be travelling with his girlfriend, Catherine Elizabeth Greig, who is facing charges of harbouring a federal fugitive.
Neither the FBI agents nor the RCMP has recovered money Mr. Bulger is believed to have stored in safety-deposit boxes in Ontario and Quebec.
The FBI says Mr. Bulger enlisted a trusted few to help stash his money in Canada.
In the massive hunt for the crime boss, FBI agents are now preparing to print Wanted posters in French to be distributed in Quebec. A newly unveiled FBI poster lists Mr. Bulger's most recent possible alias as "Mark Shapeton."
Mr. Bulger, described as violent and cunning, has eluded special agents for the past five years. He has reportedly been spotted in New York City, Florida, Iowa and most recently in California.
Mr. Bulger and his on-the-run girlfriend are fond of long walks and visits to animal shelters.
From the late 1970s to the mid-1990s, Mr. Bulger and his chief lieutenant, Stevie (The Rifleman) Flemmi controlled organized crime in New England.
Mr. Flemmi is awaiting trial in a New York prison. FBI agents say Mr. Flemmi has close ties to Montreal's West End Gang, a group of anglophone criminals who control guns and drugs in the port city.
To many in Southie, a tough, Irish-American Boston neighbourhood, Whitey Bulger is a legend. Those who don't know him personally know someone who does. Everyone knows about him.
The eldest brother of state Senator William Bulger, who is now the president of the University of Massachusetts, quickly climbed the ranks of organized crime after earning a reputation as a cold-hearted enforcer.
According to the FBI, Mr. Bulger sold guns to the IRA, controlled Boston's drug network and bookmaking, and masterminded bank heists.
The reputed mob boss based the multi-million-dollar crime business at South Boston Liquor Mart.
Mr. Bulger, who served time in Alcatraz for bank robbery, always managed to keep one step ahead of the law.
In one of his most recent alleged crimes, Mr. Bulger is accused of extorting untold millions of dollars from loan sharks and bookmakers.
Then, just days before a massive federal indictment, Mr. Bulger fled Boston undetected.
It was not until recently that the public learned how Mr. Bulger managed to keep ahead of the law at every turn.
In a move that some say protected him from the law, Mr. Bulger led a double life, working as both Irish mob boss and prized FBI informant.
Some of Mr. Bulger's crime associates have testified that his FBI informant status granted the Irish mob a licence to take care of business.
In fact, an FBI agent has since been accused of tipping off Mr. Bulger about the 1995 indictment, allowing the crime boss to stash away money and go into hiding.
The FBI has received more than 1,500 tips since Mr. Bulger fled.
And the FBI has been using some of Mr. Bulger's own money to track him down.
In 1991, Mr. Bulger and three of his friends cashed in a Massachusetts Lottery ticket worth $14 million U.S. After they were paid instalments worth $1.9 million, the United States Attorney's Office defaulted all future payments from the lottery in 1996.
A 1996 federal investigation revealed that Mr. Bulger had paid the real lottery winner $2 million for an annual share of the winnings in an after-the- win scheme to launder dirty money.
"Instead of supporting a fugitive from justice, this $1.9 million will now be supporting the fight against crime. Wherever Whitey Bulger is, I hope he hears that now his own criminal proceeds are helping us to find him and bring him to trial," U.S. Attorney Donald K. Stern said at the time.
Mr. Bulger, a.k.a. Thomas F. Baxter, Mark Shapeton, Jimmy Bulger, James Joseph Bulger, James J. Bulger Jr., Tom Harris, Tom Marshall, and Whitey, has been known to disguise himself.
Mr. Bulger, who carries a knife at all times, has reported underworld links ranging from Montreal's West End Gang to the Las Vegas Mafia.
The reputed crime boss has travelled extensively throughout the United States, Mexico, Europe and Canada.
Born in Boston on Sept. 3, 1929, Mr. Bulger is described as a white male, five feet, seven inches tall, weighing 150 pounds with silver hair and blue eyes.
His on-the-run girlfriend, Ms. Greig, is described as a white female, five feet, six inches tall, weighing 130 to 150 pounds, with a thin build, dyed blond hair and blue eyes.
Ms. Greig is known to frequent beauty salons.
And for now, Mr. Bulger remains at large.
The life of the crime boss has inspired a new book, called Black Mass: The Irish Mob, The FBI, and a Devil's Deal. The book, written by Boston Globe reporters Dick Lehr and Gerard O'Neill, concludes with the following paragraph:
"By the end of 1999 the dark history of the FBI and Bulger may have been revealed. It was all there in 17,000 pages of sworn testimony, Judge Mark L. Wolf's 661-page ruling, and a fresh round of sensational criminal indictments. But none of those historic records contained the one answer a bedeviled city was still dying to know: Where's Whitey?"
He grew up in a South Boston housing project and made a name for himself in the FBI after recruiting a notorious hometown gangster, James "Whitey" Bulger, as an informant.
The FBI had launched a national crusade against the Mafia in the 1970s and John J. Connolly Jr. became a star in the Boston office, thanks to a steady stream of information on local mob activities from Bulger and another prized informant, Stephen "The Rifleman" Flemmi.
But tomorrow, Connolly, 61, who retired from the FBI in 1990, will go on trial in federal court on charges that he protected the pair for years by tipping them off to investigations, ignoring their crimes, and warning them about potential witnesses against them - a breach that allegedly resulted in three murders.
It's a case that will also put the FBI's decades-old practice of cozying up to criminals on trial. Jurors in the trial that is expected to stretch into the summer will have to decide whether Connolly was a rogue agent or, as the defense contends, just following standard FBI rules for handling informants, with his supervisors' approval.
Lining up to testify against Connolly will be a parade of organized crime figures, including convicted New England Mafia boss Francis "Cadillac Frank" Salemme, who was once arrested by Connolly; confessed hitman John Martorano, who has admitted killing 20 people; and Bulger deputy, Kevin J. Weeks, who served as enforcer, lookout, and grave digger for the Bulger gang.
Another key witness against Connolly will be his former supervisor, John Morris, who has admitted pocketing bribes totalling $7,000 from Bulger and Flemmi, and claims Connolly served as the middleman for the payoffs. Morris has been granted immunity from prosecution.
Prosecutors also allege that Bulger, 72, remains a free man today, a fugitive with a $1 million reward on his head, because Connolly warned him to flee on the eve of his 1995 racketeering indictment.
Connolly is charged with racketeering, obstruction of justice, and lying to an FBI agent investigating his handling of Bulger and Flemmi. If convicted of all charges, he could face anywhere from eight to 20 years in prison under federal sentencing guidelines, according to lawyers.
In a statement made through his lawyer, Connolly told the Globe last week, "As an FBI agent, I did my best to further the goals of the Bureau. I am proud of the role I played in bringing down the New England Mafia."
But in a reference to pending charges that Bulger and Flemmi killed 21 people between them, including two young women they allegedly strangled, Connolly said, "I am as horrified as anybody by some of the recent disclosures about Bulger and Flemmi. Although we knew they were major criminals, neither I nor the Bureau knew the full extent of their criminality at the time."
Connolly's trial comes four years after the FBI's corrupt relationship with Bulger and Flemmi was exposed. Explosive federal court hearings revealed that agents wined and dined with the two gangsters, swapped gifts with them, and treated them as partners in their attack on the Mafia.
After listening to a parade of agents, wiseguys, and Flemmi himself throughout 1998, US District Judge Mark L. Wolf issued a 661-page decision in September 1999, lambasting the FBI for protecting Bulger and Flemmi and ignoring their crimes.
He also found that the FBI put Bulger and Flemmi together and made them a formidable team in the underworld by giving them free rein while eliminating their mob rivals through prosecutions.
Wolf refused to dismiss the 1995 racketeering case against Flemmi, rejecting his claim that he and Bulger had been granted formal immunity by the FBI.
However, the judge cited numerous instances in which more than a half-dozen FBI agents, including Connolly, protected Flemmi and Bulger to keep getting information about the mob.
"I think the hearings before Judge Wolf exposed institutional corruption, not limited to Flemmi, Bulger, and Connolly, but instead to the entire reliance and blindness to the ongoing, unsupervised criminal activities of agency informants," said Boston lawyer Martin G. Weinberg, who represented Martorano, one of Flemmi's codefendants, in the Wolf hearings.
Calling Connolly's trial a case of national importance, Weinberg said, "John Connolly was not the only agent whose informants were committing violent crimes while they were being paid and protected by a federal law enforcement agency."
The hearings led to the creation of a Justice Department Task Force of FBI agents to investigate FBI misconduct, which resulted in Connolly's December 1999 indictment. The probe of other agents continues.
The hearings triggered congressional hearings that continue today into the FBI's handling of informants, particularly in Boston.
And last year, the Justice Department enacted tougher informant guidelines, requiring more oversight from federal prosecutors, in a bid to prevent federal agents from getting too close to their informants.
"It's not just John Connolly that's on trial, it's the agency itself," said US Representative William D. Delahunt of Quincy, who has been participating in hearings before the House Committee on Government Reform, chaired by Indiana Republican Dan Burton.
"I think what's at stake is the public's confidence in the institution and the integrity of the institution," said Delahunt.
The revelations that Bulger and Flemmi were longtime FBI informants prompted some of their former cohorts to cooperate with the government, including Salemme, Martorano, and Weeks.
In a series of previous interviews with the Globe, Connolly recounted how he recruited Bulger as an informant in the fall of 1975. Connolly said he had heard that local Mafia leaders were on the verge of a war with Somerville's Winter Hill Gang and he persuaded Bulger, a member of the gang, to use the FBI to target his mob rivals. Soon, Connolly was also handling Flemmi, who had been a sporadic informant for other agents since 1965.
"We had mutual enemies," Connolly said. "They had people trying to jack them up and get them killed. And we had priority one, the LCN [La Cosa Nostra]. Our interests dovetailed. It was business."
But the indictment alleges that Bulger and Flemmi had corrupted Connolly early on in the relationship, giving him a diamond ring in June 1976 that he allegedly gave to his first wife.
Six months after accepting the ring, Connolly allegedly tipped off Bulger and Flemmi that Richard Castucci, a Revere nightclub owner, was an FBI informant and had revealed that two fugitive members of Bulger's gang were hiding out in New York. Martorano has confessed to killing Castucci and implicated Bulger and Flemmi in the slaying.
Martorano also alleges that he killed Roger Wheeler, the chairman of Telex Corp. and owner of World Jai Alai, outside a Tulsa country club on May 27, 1981, on orders from Bulger and Flemmi. Wheeler had suspected the Winter Hill Gang of skimming money from his company.
Connolly is accused of warning Bulger and Flemmi in April 1982 that one of their associates, Edward "Brian" Halloran, had told the FBI that they had orchestrated Wheeler's murder. Halloran was gunned down in South Boston the following month.
Connolly is also charged with leaking information to Bulger and Flemmi that John Callahan, a former president of World Jai Alai with links to the Winter Hill Gang, was being sought to testify before a federal grand jury investigating Wheeler's murder. Martorano confessed to killing Callahan in Miami in August 1982, allegedly on orders from Bulger and Flemmi.
The indictment also alleges that Connolly failed to take any action in 1984 when a Boston police detective warned him that Bulger and Flemmi had forced his niece and her husband to sell them their South Boston liquor store.
Bulger used the store as his headquarters and even sold the FBI the liquor it gave away as door prizes at its Christmas party.
Connolly is also accused of writing an anonymous letter to Wolf in 1997, purporting to come from three Boston police officers, in an effort to undermine the government's case against Bulger and Flemmi. The letter attacked the credibility of a Boston police detective and two FBI agents who had been targeting the two gangster-informants.
Connolly steadfastly denies any wrongdoing and said, "I trust in the jury system and am confident that after hearing all of the evidence they will conclude that I am innocent of all charges."
Last week, a 13-page letter titled, "A Call for Fairness by Friends of John Connolly," was sent over the Internet to retired FBI agents around the country.
BOSTON - For more than 20 years, FBI headquarters in Washington knew that its Boston agents were using hit men and mob leaders as informants and shielding them from prosecution for serious crimes including murder, The Associated Press has learned.
Until now, the still-unraveling Boston FBI scandal has been portrayed largely as the work of a handful of local agents - mavericks willing to deal with the devil to bring down an organized crime family.
Documents obtained by the AP directly connect FBI headquarters to a pattern of collusion with notorious killers. The AP found 20 memos from Boston agents to the FBI director's office, along with six replies, showing that headquarters was told of the abuses and condoned them.
Written between 1964 and 1987, the memos made it clear to Washington that the informants had killed and were likely to kill again, describing one of them as "the most dangerous individual known" in the Boston area. The memos also alerted headquarters that two of the informants were crime bosses, active "at the policy-making level" of criminal enterprises in Boston.
Headquarters also knew that its Boston agents were shielding the informants from other investigative agencies. It knew that one informant who masterminded a murder was allowed to go free as four innocent men were sent to prison in his place.
J. Edgar Hoover, William Sessions and William Webster headed the FBI in the years when the memos were written. Hoover is dead; Webster and Sessions declined to be interviewed. It is unknown whether any of them read the memos.
It is uncertain who at FBI headquarters did, but someone was paying attention. In the mostly unsigned responses found by the AP, the director's office welcomed the informants and praised their FBI field handlers.
A spokesman for the FBI in Washington declined to comment, citing ongoing investigations and lawsuits.
The AP found the memos in federal court files and in the records of a congressional committee investigating the abuses.
More than $1 billion in lawsuits have been brought against the government by victims of crimes committed by the informants while they were under FBI protection.
The roots of the scandal lie in the 1960s, when the FBI came under pressure from the public and Congress to crack down on the growing power of organized crime.
In Boston, FBI agents responded by recruiting two hit men as informants and by forging an alliance with the Winter Hill Gang - vicious thugs eager to seize control of the rackets from the Patriarca crime family.
The nature of the arrangement, as disclosed in recent criminal proceedings: In return for information on the mob, Boston agents looked the other way as the Winter Hill Gang sold drugs, stole and murdered, even tipping it off when state police or federal drug agents were on its trail.
Both sides got what they wanted. The Patriarca crime family was devastated by federal prosecutions, and the Winter Hill Gang took over Boston-area rackets.
The arrangement stayed secret until 1995, when Massachusetts state police and federal drug agents finally built a racketeering case against the Winter Hill Gang, and the story began to tumble out.
So far, one former FBI agent, John Connolly, has been convicted of racketeering and obstruction of justice and awaits sentencing, and another was granted immunity for testimony. Both had accepted bribes from the informants they were protecting.
THE HIT MEN
Boston FBI agents recruiting Vincent J. Flemmi as an informant knew what he was from the start - and made sure the director's office did, too.
Flemmi spoke of "plans to become recognized as the No. One 'hit man' in this area," Boston agents told Washington in a June 4, 1964, memo.
At least four field memos informed headquarters that Flemmi planned to kill a small-time hoodlum, Edward "Teddy" Deegan, in a dispute about money.
Hours before the murder, Boston agents reported that mob enforcer Joseph "The Animal" Barboza had joined the plot.
Deegan's body turned up in an alley in Chelsea, Mass., on March 12, 1965. A week later, a memo to headquarters named six men, including Flemmi and Barboza, as the killers and described the murder, right down to who fired the first shot.
But the bureau, it seemed, didn't want Flemmi in prison. It wanted him on the streets, as an informer.
On June 4, 1965, FBI records show, the director's office demanded a progress report. Was he ready to inform? Yes, Boston replied, adding that Flemmi was suspected in eight murders and that "from all indications, he is going to continue to commit murder." Soon, FBI memos show, agents also recruited Barboza, convincing him that his mob employers had turned on him.
In a June 20, 1967, memo, Boston agents told headquarters Barboza was the most dangerous man in Boston - "a professional assassin responsible for numerous homicides." He was also unreliable, Boston reported - a man willing to encourage perjury to avoid a long prison term. He also had vowed never to incriminate his friend, Flemmi.
But with the promise of a light sentence for the Deegan murder, Barboza became star witness in three organized crime trials. A Massachusetts jury trusted his word and convicted six men in the Deegan case.
Flemmi and two others identified as the killers in the memos to FBI headquarters were never charged.
Instead, FBI files show, the bureau stood by as Barboza's false testimony convicted four men who were innocent of the murder. Two died in prison. The others were released in recent years, exonerated when the scandal finally broke.
Barboza had implicated two of them to settle street grudges. The other two were known mob figures.
After the convictions, a July 31, 1968, field memo requested commendations for Barboza's handlers. Hoover sent a personal reply: "The successful prosecution of these subjects was a direct result of your noteworthy development of pertinent witnesses."
In return for his testimony, Barboza was released after five months and relocated with a new identity. Before long, however, he was threatening to recant his testimony unless given $9,000 for plastic surgery to change his appearance.
If Barboza recanted, convictions "might be overturned and plunge the government into protracted and acrimonious litigation," federal prosecutors Edward F. Harrington and Walter T. Barnes warned their supervisor in Washington. In their Feb. 12, 1970, memo, they urged that Barboza be given the money.
Six months later, Barboza did recant - but soon changed his mind and stood by his original story.
Barnes, now retired, said that, as best he can recall, some money was approved for Barboza. At the time, he had no reason to believe Barboza's testimony was false, he said. Harrington, now a federal judge in Massachusetts, declined to comment.
In 1976, the New England Mafia found Barboza and exacted its revenge, shotgunning him on a San Francisco street.
Flemmi died in prison in 1979 after Massachusetts authorities convicted him of attempted murder in another case.
James J. "Whitey" Bulger and Vincent Flemmi's big brother, Stephen, nicknamed "The Rifleman," were just rising in the crime world when Boston agents recruited them as informants. Agents told headquarters what kind of men they were.
On Feb. 8, 1967, for example, Boston agents told the director's office that Stephen Flemmi was being upgraded to a "top echelon" informant - even though he was "suspect of possibly being involved in gangland slayings." By 1981, the bureau had adopted new rules saying informants "shall not participate in acts of violence" or "initiate a plan to commit criminal acts." Yet in 1983, when Bulger was upgraded to "top echelon," a field memo said he was "the titular head of the Winter Hill mob and as such sits as an equal at the policy-making level" with New England Mafia leaders.
Throughout the 1980s, state police tried to build a case against Stephen Flemmi and Bulger, but the pair was always one step ahead of them. The reason: Boston agents tipped them off, testimony in recent criminal cases has revealed.
There is evidence FBI headquarters sometimes lent a hand.
In 1983, FBI agents in Oklahoma suspected the pair in the murder of Roger Wheeler, the head of World Jai Alai, who was shot in Tulsa after discovering someone was skimming money from his business.
When Oklahoma agents sought to question Bulger and Stephen Flemmi, Robert Fitzpatrick, then deputy chief of the bureau's Boston office, blocked the interrogations.
He was instructed to do so during a meeting in Washington with top FBI officials, Fitzpatrick told the AP.
"It was to protect Whitey Bulger," said Fitzpatrick, now retired.
Even the FBI, however, could not protect the informers forever.
Today, Stephen Flemmi is serving 10 years for obstructing justice and other offenses. He awaits trial on federal racketeering charges linking him to 10 murders.
Tipped by an FBI agent, Bulger fled and remains at large. He is under indictment for racketeering and blamed, with his gang, for 21 killings - 11 while he was an informant.