Lies, Tapes, and Whitey

Jane Collins' illustration of Whitey Bulger in court.

image courtesy Jane Collins

The Story Behind the Photos

I had an encounter with Whitey Bulger. At the time I did not know how lucky I was.

It was the early 70s and I was at the Pemberton Square Court House on assignment. In those days, in order to drive onto the plaza at the courthouse you had to walk into the holding cell area and get the attendant to open the locked gate to let you in. For some reason, I was in and out of the plaza several times that day. Each time I had to get the attendant. The small in stature attendant got angrier every time he had to unlock the gate. Little did I know just how murderously angry he could have gotten. Thankfully we only had a verbal argument.

After the incident I went upstairs to District Attorney Newman Flanagan’s Office and found his PR person Dave Rodman. He told me just let it go. His brother was future Senate President Billy Bulger.

About 4 years ago at the Boston Public Library book signing for “The Soiling of Old Glory,” Billy Bulger was the host. I told him about my encounter with Whitey, he said jokingly, “you are lucky to be alive.”

The first gangland murder I covered was in Revere by the Squire Club; Dominic D’Amico of East Boston was the victim. He was a buddy of Joseph Baron Barboza, a Mafia wannabe who turned against the Mafia as a government witness.

I was the first newsperson there and famed Revere Cop, Mickey Casoli, gave me a front row view. He walked me up to the hood of the car, let me take a photo of D’Amico dead behind the steering wheel, and then sent me back to the sidelines.

Patsy Fabiano, another Barboza buddy killed during those times, went to Revere High School a couple of years ahead of me. I used to see him at Nat’s Poolroom.

I used to deliver groceries to the home of Mafia victim, Richie Castucci. When I knocked on the door with boxes of groceries in my arms, his beautiful wife Sandy would answer the door. As a teenager knowing whom her husband was you could only gaze and keep your mouth shut. She was drop dead gorgeous. He ended up dead in the trunk of his car.

After one of the FBI wrong doing hearings (in regards to their handling of the Whitey informant gig) Sandy was there. I introduced myself to her. Although I remembered her very well she had no recollection of me standing at her doorway. What a let down.

Price Quintina, another Mafia person, was also a Revere High Alumnus. He lived a few doors from my grandmother and went to school with my sister. He was also a regular at Nat’s Poolroom. He was a part of a Mafia induction ceremony in Medford and served time for Mafia related crimes.

When the Feds arrested a group of underworld figures in the mid 80s, they paraded them to offices at the JFK Building in Government Center. I was taking video of the perp walk when Vincent Ferraro, a very dangerous man, looked at me and said, “get that light out of my eyes,” and yes I did.

In the late 60s after a bookie raid in Boston’s South End, I was going up the elevator in Federal Court with my camera in hand when this man smoking a cigar looked at me and said, “take my picture and I will burn your eyes out!” Guess what, no picture was taken.

In 1981 Raymond Patriaca, the New England “Godfather,” was brought into the New Bedford Superior Court for an arraignment. He was already serving time in jail. He was supposedly ill so they brought him in an ambulance. We all lined up for photos. I got a great position. My lens looked down on him as he rolled by me on a stretcher.

Another Mafia member Gerry Angiulo had an office on Prince Street in Boston’s North End. The Mass State Police and FBI were able to put an electronic bug his office. They listened to conversations for several months in 1980 and 81. The sound on these tapes led to many prison sentences for some of the gangsters. I was there when the evidence was removed. On one of the tapes the FBI informed a friend of mine’s his name was bantered around as a potential hit victim. He took off for foreign soil rather than testify against the mob.

When disgraced FBI Agent John “Zip” Connolly was indicted for his crimes while being an agent he held a press conference outside the Moakley Court House after his arraignment. He held up his hands in defiance and said he will be proven innocent. Yeah, ask him about it as he serves what will probably be the rest of his life in a Florida prison.

In 1994 when Whitey escaped capture by the Feds, the late and great Kirby Perkins and I were dispatched to do a story on his disappearance. At that time we did not know the gravity of his crimes. We set off to Castle Island in Southie to do a funny story on his disappearance. We went up to everyone we saw and asked them “Where’s Whitey?” Kirby put together a great humorous piece but the powers to be decided was not what they wanted and we had to do a straight piece.

In June 2011, my phone rang about 1:am. Executive Producer Scott Isaacs was on the other end of the line. He told me they had Whitey. I immediately figured he was DOA. To my disbelief he gave me some details about his capture and I was on my way into Boston.

My first assignment was to catch up with former WCVB reporter David Boeri whose every breath was about Whitey. He would be our live guest at 4:30 AM. He wore his Whitey tee shirt. His live shot, full of Whitey information, was great.

Later in the day I stood outside of Whitey’s brother Billy’s South Boston home hoping for a comment. It was not to come.

In between standing there, I shot down to where another brother Jackie Bulger lived and got video of him walking back to his apartment. He had a walking stick in his hand so I kept my distance.

Later that day, reporter Kelly Tuthill somehow got the FBI mug shot of Whitey and his “woman” Catherine Greig looking like Ma and Pa Kettle. Our crew kicked butt locally.

For the next two or three months I expect to spend a lot of time outside the Moakley Courthouse in South Boston covering Whitey’s trial. It should be a nice summer at that location.

Below is the link to some photos I took from my newspaper Days, 1966-1982. They are of Patriaca going to his arraignment in 1981 and police removing evidence from Angiulo’s Prince Street office also in 1981.