The real Whitey Bulger

 

For two weeks, Whitey Bulger had been playing it cool at his trial in the courthouse named after his old neighbor Joe Moakley.

When prosecutor Brian Kelly described him as a vile gangster who murdered hoodlums and innocent women alike, Whitey stared straight ahead.

When Johnny Martorano, murderer turned snitch, sat an arm’s length away from Whitey, implicating him in no less than 11 murders, Whitey resisted the urge to reach out and touch him.

And when Diane Sussman de Tennen tearfully recalled how Whitey was part of the hit team that shot up the wrong car, leaving her friend Michael Milano dead and her boyfriend Louis Lapiana paralyzed, some jurors cried, but Whitey was a study in stoicism.

Alas, Whitey’s infamous temper returned with a vengeance on Thursday, as he listened to the testimony of John Morris, the corrupt FBI supervisor who gave up Whitey as an informant. Morris was the final, authoritative confirmation for The Boston Globe Spotlight Team’s bombshell in 1988 that Whitey had avoided prison because he was a protected FBI informant.

Morris insists he did so because he had been corrupted by Whitey and his partner in crime, Steve Flemmi, who had showered Morris with expensive wine and short money. Morris figured that if the Globe outed Whitey, the FBI would be forced to close him out as an informant.

Whitey has a different opinion. He believes Morris was trying to get him murdered by other gangsters who don’t take kindly to informants.

As it turns out, the FBI denied the Globe report, and Whitey told his FBI handlers not to worry, that the wiseguys wouldn’t believe the story, that they’d see it as just the Globe trying to smear his politician brother Billy.

Whitey was right about that. Wiseguys tend to lean right — hey, they’re small government types, right? — and they didn’t believe the “ultraliberal” Globe. Whitey continued to shake down drug dealers, amassing a fortune, and the FBI, rather than put their prized snitch in the Witness Protection Program, left Whitey on the street.

But for all the arrogance Whitey and the FBI showed in the aftermath of his outing by the Globe, he was furious at Morris and remains murderously hostile to him.

“You’re a (expletive) liar!” Whitey hissed at Morris Thursday.

Some people in the courtroom heard him. Some, including Judge Denise Casper, did not. But Kelly, the prosecutor, filled her in as soon as the jury left for a recess.

“Mr. Bulger has got a Sixth Amendment right to confront his accusers, but he doesn’t have the right to sit at defense table and say to the witness, ‘You’re an (expletive) liar’ when the witness testifies,” Kelly said, struggling to control his anger. “Now, I know he spent his whole life trying to intimidate people, including 15-year-old boys in South Boston, but he should not be doing that here in federal court.”

It may have been Kelly’s finest moment since this trial began, showing Whitey for the venal bully he is, and Kelly’s righteous indignation was fueled by the prior testimony of a man named Paul McGonagle.

When Paul McGonagle was 14 years old, Whitey allegedly killed his father, Paulie McGonagle, and buried his body under the sand at Tenean Beach in Dorchester.

Paul McGonagle was just a kid, and in the years after his dad disappeared he carried a photo of him around, hoping he’d bump into him and recognize him. He lives with the pain that his favorite aunt, Cathy Greig, sheltered his father’s alleged killer.

A year after he allegedly killed Paulie McGonagle, Whitey Bulger rolled up on young Paul in his blue Chevy, his blue eyes hidden behind aviator sunglasses. Whitey told the boy he had taken care of the guys who had taken care of his father.

Whitey’s self-serving lies to the son of a man he allegedly killed was cynical beyond belief, the act of an evil person. It captured Whitey Bulger’s essence. It was the most devastating evidence against him to date.

© 2013 The New York Times

Read more From Our Inbox stories from the Miami Herald

  • High drama in Texas governor’s office

    As moments of high political drama go, it doesn’t get much better than this. Indicted Gov. Rick Perry, we’re ready for your close-up.

  • The ones left behind

    The fire this time is about invisibility. Our society expects the police to keep unemployed, poorly educated African-American men out of sight and out of mind. When they suddenly take center stage, illuminated by the flash and flicker of Molotov cocktails, we feign surprise.

  • Whistle blower’s tale with happy ending

    Late last month, the Securities and Exchange Commission issued an oblique news release announcing that it was awarding an unnamed whistle-blower $400,000 for helping expose a financial fraud at an unnamed company. The money was the latest whistle-blower award — there have been 13 so far — paid as part of the Dodd-Frank financial reform law, which includes both protections for whistle-blowers and financial awards when their information leads to fines of more than $1 million.

Miami Herald

Join the
Discussion

The Miami Herald is pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere on the site or in the newspaper. We encourage lively, open debate on the issues of the day, and ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point. Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.

The Miami Herald uses Facebook's commenting system. You need to log in with a Facebook account in order to comment. If you have questions about commenting with your Facebook account, click here.

Have a news tip? You can send it anonymously. Click here to send us your tip - or - consider joining the Public Insight Network and become a source for The Miami Herald and el Nuevo Herald.

Hide Comments

This affects comments on all stories.

Cancel OK

  • Marketplace

Today's Circulars

  • Quick Job Search

Enter Keyword(s) Enter City Select a State Select a Category