Gods & Mobsters
Eight years ago, a former Whitey Bulger henchman joined a well-to-do Beacon Hill church, where he quickly ingratiated himself with a group of influential congregants. But as allegations about the ex-con piled up, some members began to wonder: Just how reformed was Eddie MacKenzie?
Soon MacKenzie was doing small jobs for Bulger, working as a collector, which basically meant he assaulted drug dealers and others at Bulger’s request. MacKenzie was good at the work. “When I beat someone it was better than the high any druggie pulled from a speedball,” he writes. “First, I’d probe with my feet, kicking each rib, feeling a high every time I heard one snap beneath my sneaker. Then, with one or two swift heel kicks, I’d attack the leg bones. Then I’d lift up the arms, one at a time, and smash, there went the ribs underneath, broken as easily as sticks underfoot. I worked methodically, until the body had been pummeled to my satisfaction. Sometimes I even used my teeth, biting off an ear and spitting it back at the body: a farewell present for my victim when he opened his bloodied, swollen eyes.”
His work as an enforcer eventually evolved into a more lucrative enterprise: drug dealing. “Let’s just say that the drug sales financed an extremely comfortable lifestyle, providing me with the cash to buy whatever I wanted,” MacKenzie writes. By 1990, ten years after meeting Bulger, MacKenzie claims he was set to make $100,000 a week by importing cocaine from Colombia. In exchange for Bulger’s blessing, MacKenzie says he planned to give the mob boss “a fat envelope” as tribute. (Since the book’s publication, Flemmi and other Bulger associates have called MacKenzie’s account of his personal and professional ties to Bulger “exaggerations.”)
The deal with the Colombian drug cartel was short-lived, however. Soon after the enterprise began, MacKenzie was indicted on drug-trafficking charges. In a bid to spare himself a 15-year prison term, he agreed to cooperate with the FBI. For eight months, he helped federal agents gather crucial information against his contacts, members of the Medellín drug cartel, by wearing a mini recorder under a hairpiece topped by a baseball cap. Federal officials would not confirm MacKenzie’s cooperation in the probe, but it seems clear that some sort of deal was struck. Once facing the prospect of more than a decade in prison, MacKenzie served just four years of probation.
But the threat of federal prison apparently did little to change MacKenzie’s criminal activities. In 1997 he fell and injured his back at a West Roxbury Bertucci’s, where he was training to become a manager; he alleged that the injury left him disabled. Over the next four years, MacKenzie reportedly collected roughly $32,000 in disability payments, even while he allegedly worked other jobs, including as an assistant manager at the Fury, an Abington bar. In 2001 a grand jury in Suffolk County indicted him on charges of fraud. The key piece of evidence: a video showing MacKenzie bench-pressing about 200 pounds at a Boston Athletic Club in 1998, a few months after his supposedly debilitating injury.