Brutal: The Untold Story of My Life Inside Whitey Bulger's Irish Mob (8 page)

BOOK: Brutal: The Untold Story of My Life Inside Whitey Bulger's Irish Mob
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As we approached them, they turned around with their backs against the fence. When I put my hands up to fight one kid, he broke the beer bottle he was holding against the fence. All he had at that point was the neck of the bottle, which was of no use to him. I looked at him and laughed. “Come on, motherfucker,” I said, and with that, he whipped out a knife with a five- or six-inch-long blade.

He looked at me and said, “Now fuck you. You come on.”

I started backing away and had my hands up. “Hey, take it easy,” I told him. When I had backed up about four or five feet away from him, I reached inside my jacket, pulled out a pistol from my belt, and shot him in the leg. All of a sudden, all hell broke loose, and everyone started yelling. The kid I’d shot was on the ground, people were yelling, and I was in the middle of the street as this car came flying around the corner, heading straight at me. I dove over the hood of the car, but it sideswiped two other cars trying to hit me. Then I turned on the car and shot out its back window. The car kept on going, and the kid I shot in the leg went limping down the street.

Chucka, who had no idea who was shooting, jumped down behind a car. I pulled him up, went to his car, pushed him in, and got into the driver’s seat as Larry headed into the back. With the lights off so no one could get the plate number, I backed the car up and took off. We drove along Carson Beach to L Street onto First Street and headed to Triple O’s. When we got there, I parked the car and we went inside. As it turned out, Franny had gotten slashed with a straight razor, not with a knife, and had gone over to the hospital to get stitches. A week later, the kid I’d shot got out of the hospital and went down to the Devins family’s house and apologized. He said he and his friends didn’t want any more trouble. The next night, I saw Chucka down the bar, and he was telling me how no one wanted any more trouble with the Devins brothers. The kid must have thought I was one of Franny’s brothers.

That wasn’t my first time shooting a gun. I’d had guns since I was eighteen. My license to carry a weapon for protection of life and property was issued from Boston police headquarters in 1978. I lost it nine years later, in 1987. It wasn’t hard to get the permit itself. I went down to the range to qualify and ended up getting a 298 out of 300. I had great eyesight, 20/10 vision, and was a good shot. I got it because at the time I was carrying receipts and money when I closed up Triple O’s. Also, I was around Jimmy, so it was advantageous for me and for him that I had a permit to carry a firearm. Since he was a convicted felon, he couldn’t legally carry a gun.

Most of the time I’d carry two .45s or two .38s, in shoulder holsters underneath my jacket or on my waist. It was never difficult to buy guns. I’d get them from gun stores or private people. I didn’t like being around people, so I didn’t shoot at ranges. Instead, once or twice a month, I would go down to Carver, where a lady I knew owned a cranberry bog, and shoot on her property. There were sand pits there and we would put down cantaloupes and targets and shoot at them. Jimmy went down to the bogs a few times with me and we shot a variety of weapons, from assault weapons all the way down to pistols.

When I shot that kid, I didn’t feel anything. It just happened. He was trying to stab me, so I shot him. It was simple.

But there was rarely a night at Triple O’s when I wouldn’t break up a fight or two at the bar. One fight turned out to be particularly important. And it wasn’t even one I fought. On St. Patrick’s Day in 1976, during a big fight outside, someone stabbed a biker and handed me the knife. When I walked into the bar to get rid of the knife, Kevin O’Neil logically assumed I was the one who had just stabbed the biker. Afraid he would lose his license, he came down on me, riding me for hurting the bar with that kind of violence. Not that there wasn’t plenty of violence every night in that bar, but stabbings didn’t usually happen more than twice a year and were worse than the usual stuff.

For weeks afterward, Kevin would ride me about the incident, still angry about my jeopardizing the bar with the stabbing. “That’s my license you were fooling around with,” he kept telling me. “You should have thought about losing my license for that stabbing.” I never responded much, just shrugged and went about my business.

One night when Jimmy was there and Kevin was going at me yet again about the fight, Billy O’Neil went up to his brother and said, “Hey, he didn’t do it. I did it. So lay off him.”

Jimmy turned to Kevin and said, “He kept his mouth shut and didn’t tell on your brother. What do you think of that?”

Kevin looked confused. “Why didn’t you tell me?” he finally asked me.

“I wasn’t going to tell you your brother did it,” I told him. Kevin just walked away, shaking his head. From then on, however, I could see that Jimmy was taking a bigger interest in me, talking more to me and watching me more intently, noticing everything I did or said the nights he was there.

A few years later, in 1979, Billy O’Neil, who was twenty-nine at the time, locked himself out of his apartment and climbed up on a drainpipe to get inside. When the drainpipe broke away from the wall, he turned to jump and ended up hitting the back of his head on the fender of a car beneath him. I visited him every day at the New England Medical Center, but was told there was no hope of recovery. Six days after the accident, he died. A good person and a loyal friend, Billy had worked the door with me many nights, and I took his death hard.

Kevin naturally took it much worse, spending less time at the bar. As a result, I ended up managing the bar, along with a cook named Mike Whitmarsh, settling the bar’s cash registers at the end of the night. Working nearly every night, often from seven till the place closed, and still laying track full-time for the MBTA, my schedule was pretty full then. In addition, I was spending time with Jimmy before I went to Triple O’s. Since I knew everybody there and liked being around the wiseguys and the music, I never felt like I was working that hard.

The fact that I was always sober and didn’t drink on the job made things easier for me, because you never knew what was going to happen when you worked the door there. Or who was going to come walking through it. About a month after Billy died, when Kevin was still having a real tough time dealing with the loss, Ray Flynn, a Massachusetts state legislator and Boston city councillor, who later became a three-term mayor of Boston and U.S. ambassador to the Vatican, came into Triple O’s around midnight and immediately called Kevin “Billy.” I could see that Flynn had already been drinking that night, but he wasn’t drunk. I corrected him right away, but he kept on calling Kevin by his dead brother’s name. Naturally, Kevin was getting aggravated, so I told Flynn, “Come on. What are you doing? You used to go drinking with Billy. You knew him well.”

“Yeah, you’re right,” he said to me. Then he turned around and did it again. That night he was talking to anyone who would listen about Ireland and all the things he’d done for the Irish people. He’d come in alone and had settled himself at the same end of the bar near the door where Kevin and I were standing, along with a few of the regulars.

Sure enough, while he was talking, he kept calling Kevin “Billy.” “Billy is dead,” I said after I’d corrected him three more times. “Don’t be an asshole.”

And then he started on me. “Fuck you,” he said. I didn’t ask him to repeat that three more times. I knocked him out with one punch. He fell right out of the door, down the three stairs in front of the bar, and landed on the sidewalk.

Kevin came out the door and told him, “You’re barred from here for life. And if you’re reincarnated, you’re still barred.”

How many people can say they knocked out the mayor of Boston and the ambassador to the Vatican?

A few nights later while I was working the door, two fellows in their mid-twenties and dressed in suits pulled up in a Mercedes and walked into the bar. Guys from Gillette’s corporate headquarters often came in dressed in suits, so that wasn’t that unusual. The two fellows went halfway down the bar and sat down at a table. A few minutes later, a waitress came up to me and said, “Kevin, you better go down and take a look at those two guys.”

I walked down and saw they had a bag of cocaine out on their table. “Fellows, you can’t do that here,” I told them. “You have to put it away.”

“No problem,” they told me, and I walked back to the front of the bar.

No more than ten minutes went by before the waitress came back and said, “Kevin, they’re putting the stuff back on the table.”

I headed back to them and said, “Fellows, I already told you that you can’t do that here. Go out and do it in your car. You can’t do it in the bar.”

Two minutes later, I looked back at them and there they were, making lines on the table with a credit card. I walked back down and, wiping the coke off the table with my hands, said, “I already fucking told you twice. Now get the fuck out of here.”

“Hey, what’s your problem?” one of them yelled.

“Get out of here. Screw,” I repeated.

When the three of us got to the door, they started arguing with me. “You don’t know who the fuck I am,” one of them said.

“Yeah, yeah,” I said. “Just screw. Get out of here.” With that, one of the guys threw a punch at me. I stepped to the side and hit him a right hand and he went down, falling over backward and hitting his head on the ground. I turned and hit his friend a left hook to the jaw and he went down, too. Thinking that was the end of it, I walked back into Triple O’s.

A week later, I overheard two waitresses in the bar, Vicki and Pat, talking. Vicki, who was about four years older than me, well built, with short blonde hair and a great personality, was telling Pat, “You have to tell him.”

But Pat was saying, “No, I’m not getting involved. I’m staying out of it.”

Finally, Vicki came up to me and Kevin O’Neil and told us that Pat’s mother checked coats in the Beef and Ale restaurant on Washington Street in town. She’d heard the owner, whose last name was Spelios, telling people he was going to spend money, even if he had to sell his place, to have me killed for fracturing his son’s skull and was reaching out to Jack Ashley, an ex-Boston cop. Ashley, who was around six-five and 250 pounds, was now a loan shark with a reputation of being a capable guy who could handle himself. “I couldn’t not tell you,” Vicki said, “because if anything ever happened to you, I’d feel terrible.”

Kevin assured me he knew Jack Ashley personally and would reach out to him and let him know I was with him and Jimmy. He also told me that Ashley always carried a .22 derringer under his hat.

The following weekend, Kevin and I were in the bar when Jack Ashley walked in. Kevin talked to him for a few minutes and then called me over. The three of us were walking into an alcove beneath the stairs leading to the function room when Jack made the mistake of reaching to take his hat off. Assuming he was going for a gun, I immediately pulled out a .38 pistol and stuck it in his chest.

“Whoa, hold on,” Kevin said.

“Hey, I don’t know anything about anything that’s been going on here,” Jack said, putting his right hand up in the air. “I’ve been out of town for a week and all I know is that Kevin wants to talk to me.” I put my pistol away and let Kevin explain everything about the coke and the guys in the bar. Later that night, when Kevin and I were standing at the bar with Jack, Stevie and Jimmy walked in, and we told them about the fight and Spelios’s plan to have me killed. The next day, the two of them went to see Spelios and explained I was with them and that his kid was wrong. “Yeah, well, my son ended up with a fractured skull and the other kid got a broken jaw,” Spelios began to tell Jimmy and Stevie.

“Listen,” Jimmy interrupted him, “you’re reaching out to have this guy killed. Well, we’re going to let him go after your son. How’s that?” It didn’t take long for the father to decide to let the whole thing go, but Jimmy and Stevie ended up making him pay a fine, basically for wanting to hit me when I was with Jimmy. His kid never came back into Triple O’s, and I didn’t spend any time at the Beef and Ale.

After Billy died, there seemed to be more fights, and as always, Jimmy was taking notice of how I handled them. It helped that, like Jimmy, I had grown up in the neighborhood, and knew and dealt with the younger people. When I rode around and did some occasional business with him, I was also learning that he was a pretty fair person and that although he had a penchant for violence and most people were afraid of him, he used violence only as a last resort, when all else failed.

Finally, a few years after Billy died, in 1982, one especially busy night at Triple O’s, Jimmy said to Kevin O’Neil, “Kevin’s fighting. He’s watching out for your interest at the bar. And he’s not making any money. You should make it worth his while. Why don’t you give him twenty-five percent of the place?”

But Kevin wasn’t interested in doing that, and I can’t blame him for not wanting to give up 25 percent of his place to me. When he said no, Jimmy said, “I’m taking him with me.”

Like Stevie Flemmi later said, “Jimmy captured Kevin at an early age.” He might have been right. But no one ever put a gun to my head. I went willingly.




Brian Halloran had been lucky two times earlier when he’d escaped the bullets aimed for his balloon-shaped head. But Jimmy Flynn and Jimmy Mantville, not Jimmy Bulger, had been shooting then. Once Jimmy Bulger decided to take him out, Halloran never stood a chance.

It was just luck—I’m not sure if it was good or bad luck—that made me a crucial part of Halloran’s unlucky day. Since I was the only one Jimmy trusted who happened to be around on the afternoon of May 11, 1982, I got the call. And once I answered it, there would be no turning back. It turned out to be a day that ended Halloran’s life and permanently changed mine.

Brian Halloran was a forty-two-year-old Winter Hill hanger-on. The Winter Hill gang had gotten its name from a neighborhood in Somerville, Massachusetts where some well-known criminals had teamed up. They had played a central role in the Boston gang wars of the 1960s. Back in the late 1960s and early 1970s, Jimmy had joined forces with Winter Hill and Stevie Flemmi, who was already involved with them. The gang had members of various ethnic backgrounds, including the Italian, Irish, and Polish. They were all independent, well-known, violent criminals who had joined forces. In 1979, twenty-one members and associates, including one of its leaders, Howie Winter, had been indicted by federal prosecutors for racetrack fixing. Jimmy and Stevie basically took over the Winter Hill rackets, and though some of the members, like Joe MacDonald and Johnny Martorano, were on the run, the gang continued on.

BOOK: Brutal: The Untold Story of My Life Inside Whitey Bulger's Irish Mob
6.52Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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