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Sunday, May 6, 2012

How Boston’s most notorious mobster evaded cops for 50 years

Most Wanted
Pursuing Whitey Bulger, the Murderous Mob Chief the FBI Secretly Protected
by Thomas J. Foley and John Sedgwick

John McIntyre brought a six-pack because he thought he was going to a party.
What he found instead was hell.
When McIntyre walked into the home he’d been invited to in Boston’s Southie neighborhood, the expected “party” consisted of just one man, who was waiting for McIntyre with handcuffs, rope and chains.
That man was Whitey Bulger, and what he did to McIntyre — chaining and cuffing him, taunting him with “I know you’re a snitch” before slowly twisting the rope around his neck and eventually shooting him in the head — was all in a day’s work for the man who eventually replaced Osama bin Laden at the top of the FBI’s most-wanted fugitive list.
While on the run from the law, he was brazen enough to visit Alcatraz as a tourist — a prison that once housed him!
While on the run from the law, he was brazen enough to visit Alcatraz as a tourist — a prison that once housed him!
Whitey Bulger is seen after he was captured last year.
Whitey Bulger is seen after he was captured last year
Bulger was a notorious Boston gangster who “loved to kill with his bare hands,” had “ice-blue [eyes] that could stop your heart,” and committed at least 19 murders, yet remained free for decades by virtue of being both a criminal mastermind — and an FBI informant.
“Most Wanted” details the decades-long efforts of Thomas Foley, an officer with the Massachusetts State Police who eventually led the department to catch Bulger, and his battles with the FBI, who were simultaneously pursuing and protecting the man.
Bulger robbed banks in his 20s, and when he wound up in prison for nine years, he spent his time studying military tactics and strategies. By his 1965 release, he emerged a smarter, more dangerous criminal.
While he was famously disciplined, though, it never undercut his brutality. “He once counseled a young gangster about how to beat a man, ‘don’t just knock him out. Bite his f - - - ing ear off, bite his face off, lift his arms up and break his f - - - ing ribs, break his ankles, hit all his spots, his non-lethal spots.’ Do everything but kill him, in other words. That way, the guy remembers it, and so does everyone else.”
By 1975, Foley writes, Bulger had single-handedly murdered at least a dozen rivals to land at the top of the local gangland heap.
Foley began his search for Bulger in 1990, at which point Bulger was “sitting on a criminal enterprise the newspapers pegged at $50 million,” including “marijuana smuggling, cocaine dealing, extortion, illegal liquor distribution, pilferage, racketeering, gaming and loan-sharking.”
Yet by then, “few people in law enforcement even knew what he looked like.”
Bulger worked through a system of intermediaries; didn’t smoke, drink, or spend time with random women, keeping the same two steady girlfriends for many years; and “lived out of a suitcase, ready to jump the moment things got hot.”
And when he did need to run, he ran fast and smart.
“In his car, the interior panels and floor mats were touch-sensitive, so they’d give off a warning signal if anyone tried to plant a bug,” writes Foley. “He once juiced up a Chevy Malibu to be his getaway car. It could do 160 and then release a billowing fog of oily smoke and an oil slick to blind any pursuers and send them spinning off the road.”
While Bulger avoided capture for almost 50 years, Foley alleges that the FBI knew where he was at least part of that time, but Bulger would feed them tips on rivals and lower-level gangsters in exchange for not being arrested.
For the past 15 years, Bulger and one of his girlfriends, Catherine Greig, lived like nomads. With cash stored in safety deposit boxes throughout the county, the couple reportedly spent time in Louisiana, Wyoming, Iowa, Chicago and Florida.
By 1999, as rumors flew that Bulger — who traveled for a bit under the name Thomas Baxter — might even be in England, he was actually holed up in New York for a time, often having associates meet him “at the lions,” which meant by the statues outside of the New York Public Library.
By June 2011, after Bulger was immortalized when Jack Nicholson played a character based on him in “The Departed,” a tip led authorities to an apartment complex in Santa Monica, Calif. Bulger had been living in a two-bedroom apartment with blacked-out windows under the name Charlie Gasko.
Behind one wall, he kept a stash of “30 weapons, including an assault rifle and shotguns, plus a hand grenade and a set of handcuffs. Behind another wall was $822,000 in cash.”
He had told his neighbors he was from Chicago, and while some “found him quarrelsome and a little hard to know,” one neighbor recalled that Bulger “loved to pet her bull terrier, Joey, who returned the affection.” The neighbor later added, “I guess [the dog] is not a very good judge of character.”
At the time of the book’s writing, Bulger sits in prison, awaiting a trial that will most likely occur in 2013. With Bulger’s arrest, writes Foley, one of the most brutal criminals of our time was finally off the streets.
“Whitey Bulger has to be the most cold-blooded killer in Boston’s history,” he writes. “If he isn’t, I wouldn’t want to know the guy who is.”


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