Updated news on the Gambino, Genovese, Bonanno, Lucchese and Colombo Organized Crime Families of New York City.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Whitey Bulger witnesses die of old age before his trial

The feds have it wrong. Whitey Bulger isn’t trying to stall his trial until he dies.

He’s trying to stall it until all the witnesses against him die.

“Won’t work,” said one of his former colleagues. “Too many witnesses.”

But they’re very old, most of them. The Winter Hill Gang is now the Over the Hill Gang. And sure enough, one of the ex-cons the feds were hoping would testify against him has just passed on.

Tommy Ryan was 81, a mere whippersnapper among the bookies the G-men are planning to use on the witness stand next year against the 83-year-old serial killer now incarcerated at the Plymouth County Correctional Facility.

Ryan, of Winthrop, died late last month. He was for many years the biggest bookie in Cambridge, operating out of his barroom, Joey Mac’s Lounge on Warren Street, just off Cambridge Street.

Ryan was just paying “rent” to the boys at the garage. But he was big enough that when the feds put together their Winter Hill Gang organizational chart back in 2008 for the Zip Connolly murder trial in Florida, they put Ryan on it.

Sure, it was near the bottom, and maybe it was just because they had his mugshot, but still, Ryan made the chart. He was an ex-Marine, just like the boss, Howie Winter, 83, who is currently under state indictment.

On Friday a federal judge again refused to give Whitey’s lawyer, J.W. Carney, more time to prepare for trial, not to mention funerals. Jury selection is still scheduled to begin March 4. It will take place at the Moakley Courthouse, although a better location might be Marian Manor, or even a hospice with easy access to defibrillators and oxygen.

Forget St. Petersburg, Fla. Starting late next winter, the Bulger courtroom is going to be God’s waiting room.

Ryan’s last stretch came in 1996, when he was found guilty on criminal contempt charges. He’d refused to testify in front of a grand jury investigating organized crime in Boston. A lot of the senior-citizen bookies on Whitey’s witness list did 18 months for refusing to testify. It was a very popular decision, until Whitey Bulger and his pal Stevie Flemmi were outed as rats in 1997.

After that, it seemed rather pointless, going to the can for refusing to rat out a rat. Everybody started testifying. No hard feelings. Even Stevie Flemmi is going to take a turn on the witness stand against his old partner. Stevie’s 78, and he’ll probably make it to March. His father lived to almost 100.



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