NEWS NEWS AND MORE NEWS I am going to get all of my memories down, before I forget what I remember!. . . . quote from Stanley Forman

25Jun/117

Whitey Bulger “America’s Most Wanted” and Me

David Boeri, for­mer WCVB reporter,currently with WBUR Radio wear­ing his Whitey Tee shirt after he was cap­tured. David is a great his­to­rian of Whitey and his exploits.

Whitey Bul­ger was cap­tured and I got the call at 2: am to head into the City (Boston) for cov­er­age of the big story. It brought back mem­o­ries of a con­fronta­tion I had with Whitey almost 40 years ago, way before I knew who or what he was.

The Plaza at the Pem­ber­ton Square Court House on Bea­con Hill was a gated area (still is, but now with a guard shack) and in order to park vehi­cles on the Plaza to cover a court issue you had to knock on the door lead­ing to the bow­els of the build­ing and get who­ever was on duty to unlock the gate. It was the same entrance where the pris­on­ers com­ing for a court appear­ance were brought and then put in hold­ing cells.

One day about 40 years ago I had to go in and out of the Plaza sev­eral times. Each time I knocked on the door look­ing for the “key per­son.” The man with the key got pissed off at me as he thought I was both­er­ing him. I was young, strong (I thought), and if noth­ing else I could take any­one on ver­bally. We spared back and forth yelling and swear­ing at each other, he opened and closed the gate and I moved on.

Later that day I called Dis­trict Attor­ney New­man Flanagan’s pub­lic rela­tions direc­tor Dave Rod­man. I told him the story and  he knew imme­di­ately who I was talk­ing about and told me it was Sen­a­tor William Bulger’s brother Whitey and to let it go.

I did not real­ize what dan­ger I had been in till 20 years later when I started to know more about Whitey, read he had worked at the Court House and real­ized who I had had the con­fronta­tion with on that par­tic­u­lar day. It was a scary thought after read­ing he had dis­patched peo­ple for var­i­ous rea­sons and I prob­a­bly gave him good rea­son that day.

A cou­ple of years ago I was at a book sign­ing event for “The Soil­ing Of Old Glory” and Billy Bul­ger was the mod­er­a­tor as we talked about forced bus­ing in Boston in the 70s. I told him about the inci­dent. We both laughed as he said “I guess you are lucky to be alive!”

Through the years Whitey’s rep­u­ta­tion as the “Sav­ior of South Boston” cer­tainly dimin­ished and fear set in. There used to be news­pa­per arti­cles say­ing Whitey played it safe against the bad ele­ments of South Boston; only run­ning some gam­bling oper­a­tions and keep­ing drugs out of the area. Works out he was the drug run­ner and involved in pretty much every­thing ille­gal in the area, plus mur­der­ing peo­ple at will. He has been charged with 19 known mur­ders and believed to be involved with many more.

Paul Corsetti, a for­mer reporter I worked with, also had an inci­dent with Whitey. Paul was chas­ing a story on a South Boston bookie and not think­ing much about it when he got a call at the office. It said it was Whitey him­self telling Paul “I know where you’re fam­ily lives and the school bus your daugh­ter gets on every day.”  Paul told Whitey it was not him he was look­ing into and gave him the bookie’s name he was watch­ing.  Whitey light­ened up and gave Paul all the infor­ma­tion he needed to do the story and the two moved on.

Another time in South Boston at Pre­ble Cir­cle there was a call for a shoot­ing. I raced there and the area was hec­tic with EMTs work­ing a vic­tim and cops run­ning around look­ing for sus­pects. Dick Fal­lon, another news pho­tog­ra­pher, kept telling me they were look­ing for Steven “The Rifle­man” Flemmi, who it turns out, was Whitey Bulger’s part­ner both being FBI infor­mants. Steve’s brother Michael was a Boston Cop who later got him­self in trou­ble and ended up in jail like his brother.

In the late 1967 I was cruis­ing with Record Amer­i­can pho­tog­ra­pher Gene Dixon my col­league for 16 plus years when he heard the call for a per­son in the snow. It was on Har­vard Street in Dorch­ester and when we got there William Ben­nett one of three broth­ers was curled up, bloody snow around him as he had been assas­si­nated.  The other two broth­ers Wal­ter and Edward also died that year and the only body that was found at that time was William’s. As I read up on the his­tory of Whitey it seems his mur­der was all part of the gang wars of those past days.

I grew up in Revere, Mass­a­chu­setts where it was said there was a bookie or gang­ster on every cor­ner. Not true– just on a lot of cor­ners but not all of them. My first “Mafia” hit took place dur­ing a gang war between local gangs. There was an infor­mant by the name of Joseph Baron Barboza.

Bar­boza used to hang around a club at the old Pleasan­ton Hotel on Revere Beach (three alarm fire destroyed it, yes I was there). One of the enter­tain­ers at the club was Myles Con­nor, infa­mous for shoot­ing for­mer Major Jack O’Donovan of MSP in 1966, (when he was a lieu­tenant detec­tive) in a shootout in Boston’s Back Bay. Con­nor who used to jump out of a cas­ket in his act went on to prison after the shoot­ing and is some­how con­nected to the Isabella Stew­art Museum Rob­bery of 1990. There is also a story that Whitey Bul­ger and an asso­ciate might also be some­how involved with the Museum Heist.

One night at the Pleasan­ton a guest got assaulted by Bar­boza. Rather than tes­tify against him he did a year in jail for con­tempt of court. Scary peo­ple there and a mile fur­ther down the boule­vard was the Ebb Tide a club where the Patri­arca asso­ciates hung out. They were not there to lis­ten to enter­tainer Tommy Hunt sing I’m sure but I was a few times, lis­ten­ing to the music and look­ing to see what wise guys came into view. It is like a tread mill with all of the same peo­ple on it and con­tin­u­ing to keep the plat­form going.

Joe was some­how involved in help­ing the police get to rival gang mem­bers who may or may not have been the peo­ple who fre­quented the Ebb Tide. As a result he and his friends were on a hit list. On a week­day night 35 plus years ago I cov­ered the mur­der of Dominic D’Amico, and East Boston man. He was an asso­ciate of Barboza’s and had gone into a Boston club in what was then called the Com­bat Zone on lower Wash­ing­ton Street and straighten things out. He had police pro­tec­tion and ditch them think­ing he could make things right.

He was told to go to Revere and meet some­one near the Squire Club on Squire Road in North Revere. He did meet some­one or should we say some­one met him. When I got there he had been blown apart and was sit­ting slouched against the steer­ing wheel of his car about 100 yards from the club. I went to the scene from my home and met the overnight pho­tog­ra­phers who were work­ing.  Revere Police Offi­cer Mickey Cas­soli was in charge and teased me about allow­ing me to pho­to­graph the scene. Mickey was one of the great cops I got to work with over the years.

Another one of the group was Patsy Fabi­ano. Patsy was in hid­ing and at one point was put in the Charles Street Jail for pro­tec­tion. Kevin Cole, my col­league at the paper, got his pic­ture as he walked in the front door. Patsy was later killed gang­land style in the Boston area. I actu­ally knew Patsy; he hung out in Revere and went to Revere High.

Dur­ing this gang war time our great writer Harold Banks did a book on Bar­boza and word was out there was a “hit” on him.  Harold was the City Edi­tor on Sat­ur­days at the paper and his Assis­tant City Edi­tor was Tom Sul­li­van. Harold was ner­vous about what might hap­pen and had police pro­tec­tion, One Sat­ur­day, Tom Sul­li­van put up a big sign on the back of his chair which read “I am not Harold Banks” with an arrow on the sign point­ing to the Harold. It brought on a lot of laughs.

We were tight with the Dis­trict Attor­ney back then and we were set up to pho­to­graph Bar­boza as he was being escorted from one court room to another at the Pem­ber­ton Square Court House. A very ner­vous Dick Thom­son a col­league was sent on a Sat­ur­day morn­ing and the sus­pect was led across the cor­ri­dor well pro­tected by police. Our Sun­day edi­tion was the only paper that cap­tured the image. The end finally caught up with Bar­boza on the streets of San Fran­cisco report­edly by a Boston area hit man!

I was on Prince Street in Boston’s North End when they raided the offices of Gen­naro Angiulo the local crime boss. The office had been bugged and after culling the infor­ma­tion that was needed they pulled out all of the files, safes and what­ever else was mov­able. Of course the late and great Globe reporter Dick Con­nolly was there, note­book in hand and watch­ing the scene. Dick was so good at what he did I would be sur­prised if he did not get to lis­ten to the tapes that were recorded.

I had a friend who was told after offi­cials lis­tened to those record­ings he was on a hit list. My friend had pissed some Mafia peo­ple and it was time to even the score. The “law” wanted him to help them but instead he fled the Coun­try for sev­eral years till things cooled down.

The Angiulo office was less than a mile from the Man­ches­ter Street garage Whitey used to hang out with along with his part­ner Steve Flemmi. Most of the pho­tos we see of Whitey and Steve were taken in the area of that garage. Mass State Police had set up sur­veil­lance in a build­ing across from the site. All of a sud­den the pair stopped going to the garage and the rife between the FBI became more pro­nounced as they thought there was a leak com­ing from that office. Works out they were cor­rect and his name was John “Zip­per” Connolly.

Reporter Pam Cross and I were in a dis­trict court fol­low­ing Frank “Cadil­lac” Salemne, a Mafia boss and hit man. He sur­vived an attempt on his life dur­ing a day­time try on Route One in Saugus, MA, when sev­eral shots were fired at him and although he was hit he sur­vived.  Salemne at one time had fled Mass­a­chu­setts and was liv­ing in New York. FBI Agent John Con­nolly hap­pened to see him amongst 8 mil­lion peo­ple on a down­town Man­hat­tan Street and made the arrest. It was always felt he was one of the peo­ple Bul­ger and Flemmi dimed out and let Con­nolly know where he was. Salemne was sup­posed to be a friend of the pair.

Ray­mond Patri­arca with his attor­ney Joseph Bal­liro leav­ing a Boston court around 1967. Over Patriarca’s right shoul­der is Record Amer­i­can Reporter Tom Berube.

The big boss of the Mafia in New Eng­land was Ray­mond Patri­aca, the Mafia Don from Rhode Island. Get­ting a photo of him was a big deal as he put the fear of God in every­one and he always had his tipar­illo cigar in his mouth and did not say pleas­ant things to the media.

The first time I saw him was at Fed­eral Court in Boston. We were all wait­ing for his appear­ance, every­one was talk­ing, and I was the only one that spot­ted him when he walked by us. I raced in behind him as he got in the ele­va­tor and got the only photo as the ele­va­tor door closed. About an hour later he came out the same door and walked right through the crowd, every­one was alert this time. Both the AP and UPI pho­tog­ra­phers got bet­ter images than I did and the Edi­tor of the paper hung them up in the photo depart­ment to make sure we all knew we got beat.

The last time I saw Ray­mond was at a New Bed­ford Court when they brought him in by ambu­lance and stretchered him into his hear­ing. I got a great photo of him laid out. When he died we all went down to Rhode Island to the funeral home and cov­ered peo­ple going in and out of  the wake.

When I first began at the news­pa­per, bookie raids were big and we had sources to tell us when, where and every­thing we needed to know to be there when it hap­pened.  I was dis­patched to the 411 Club on Colum­bus Avenue in Boston’s South End. The sus­pects were being carted out and from there I fol­lowed the group to the Fed­eral Court House in Post Office Square. There were not any metal detec­tors in those days so keep­ing up with the group was no problem.

I got into an ele­va­tor but lit­tle did I know I got on with some of the sus­pects. One of them being a major player in the rack­e­teer­ing group, Dr. Harry “Doc” Sagan­sky, a Brook­line den­tist and big time bookie.  He was smok­ing a cigar and he turned to me flick­ing his ashes and said “If you take my pic­ture I will burn your eyes out.” I still have my eyes so you know what I did not do that day.

Another time the FBI was pick­ing up Mafia sus­pects along with Boston Police and they paraded the group across the street to the JFK build­ing from the Dis­trict One Police Sta­tion on New Sud­bury Street. It was a very orga­nized show and tell by the cops and at one point Vin­nie “The Ani­mal” Fer­rara, one of the key fig­ures, looks at me and says “get that light out of my eyes,” I said “yes sir” and moved onto some­one else.

I knew some of the vic­tims of Mafia hits. The beau­ti­ful wife of gang­ster Richie Cas­tucci, San­dra, used to shop at Arthur’s Cream­ery where I had my high school deliv­ery job. I loved going to his Revere Beach Boule­vard home as the tip was big and she was good to look at.

He report­edly felt oblig­ated to the FBI after they pro­vided some infor­ma­tion to him so he became a con­fi­dant. They found him wrapped up dead in the trunk of his car less than a mile from where Dam­ico was mur­dered on Lantern Road in Revere.   This was sup­pos­edly part of the Whitey Bulger’s group of killings. Another mur­der tied to FBI Agent, John “Zip­per” Con­nolly, who is serv­ing what should end up being life sen­tence in a Florida Jail.

When these gang wars first began my col­league Gene Dixon took a great photo of one of the vic­tims near the back of the old Boston Gar­den. Gene had gone up on the express­way and even told Globe pho­tog­ra­pher Ollie Noo­nan, Jr. where there was a good view. The pho­tos the two of them made with the light­ing, gird­ers and high­way made it look like the scene from a movie.

The Record Amer­i­can did not use the photo as they thought it was too grue­some and Gene walked around for weeks show­ing and talk­ing about all the sug­ges­tive pic­tures on the movie pages of the paper where every­one appeared to being hav­ing sex (not the words he used). What really got him pissed was see­ing Ollie’s photo in a dou­ble page spread in Life Mag­a­zine doing a story on under­world mur­ders and this was a good example.

Today, while chas­ing the story sur­round­ing Whitey’s cap­ture I was first sent to his brother’s Billy house then to his brother Jack’s house, both in South Boston. I was sit­ting there look­ing around work­ing to stay awake and as I looked up at two men talk­ing I real­ized one of them looked like Jackie. I picked up my video cam­era and zoomed in, it was him.

I started tap­ing the scene, jumped out of the car as he began walk­ing towards me. He had this big umbrella in his hand and all I could think of was I escaped the wrath of his brother and now he would do me in. Not to be, I said “Hello, would you like to talk to me?” he very angrily said “I am not talk­ing” and he walked back to his apartment.

The Rest of The Story:

My friend and col­league Mike Ander­sen updates me with his Patri­aca story. 

I could iden­tify with you pho­tograph­ing mob­sters.  Right after I started at the Record I was assigned to get a pic­ture of Ray­mond Patri­arca being arraigned in Fed­eral Court.  I didn’t even know how to get from Winthrop Square to the cour­t­house.  They told me to go to the press­room on the 14th floor and the reporter would help me.  I didn’t know cam­eras not only were not allowed in the court­room but weren’t allowed on the same floor.  So I was wan­der­ing around the 14th floor, look­ing for the press­room, and I was pass­ing the ele­va­tors when the ele­va­tor door opened and four men in suits got off, sur­round­ing this tough-looking, wiry lit­tle man.  “No pic­tures,” one of the suits said, and nat­u­rally I com­plied.  I didn’t even know it was Patri­arca but sensed it was.  Later I got a pic­ture of him in the back seat of the Mar­shalls’ car com­ing up out of the cour­t­house park­ing garage.  I told the pic­ture edi­tor not to put my credit line on the pic­ture; I didn’t want Patri­arca to know who took it.

See link to Margery Egan Story on Ben­nett Broth­ers:

http://bostonherald.com/news/columnists/view/2011_0626too_late_for_grieving_sisters/srvc=home&position=2

Comments (7) Trackbacks (0)
  1. Great sto­ries, Stan­ley. You have had some amaz­ing (and some scary) expe­ri­ences. Thanks so much for shar­ing. Would love to see more still pic­tures from the past and current.

  2. Stan­ley

    I THINK YOUR A GREAT WRITER. VERY EASY TO READ. YOU SHOULD WRITE A BOOK WITH LOTS OF PHOTO’S ( I WANT A SIGNED COPY)

    GARY

  3. Stan,
    your nar­ra­tive like your pic­tures, just great.
    You should do a book.
    Thanks for shar­ing.
    Don

  4. Get writ­ing on Bul­ger. The news of his cap­ture has rekin­dled inter­est in the his­tory of events and, of course, with the movie “The Departed” get­ting a lot of new atten­tion given it’s affin­ity to Bul­ger. Your blog was easy to read and riv­et­ing in it’s details and like humor. Have enjoyed your work since you won the Pulitzer prizes back in the 70’s. Glad to see you are still doing top notch work. I’ve been par­tic­u­larly impressed because you never went far from home to do such great work, never depended on the “exotic” to pro­duce memo­r­ial images and sto­ries. Thanks, you’re a great inspi­ra­tion for pho­to­jour­nal­ists and oth­ers work­ing in their own “backyard”.

  5. Stan­ley: Robert Parker made a for­tune writ­ing about wise guys in Boston and you could — and should — do the same.
    With a birth­day approach­ing it’s a good time to eval­u­ate where you are and where you want to go. Write, man, write!
    I echo every­thing said by O.K. Nygren and will add that it’s been a priv­iledge to have your friend­ship all these years.
    Invite me to the book sign­ing, please!

  6. I see s book here or should be…great sto­ries Stan…keep it up.…

  7. Awe­some sto­ries Stanley!


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