Bulger Day 15: Whitey Speaks (on Tape)

The court admitted into evidence recordings of Bulger speaking from jail.

So Whitey Bulger’s on trial and you’re interested in hearing about it, but you’ve got this darn day job and you can’t manage to keep up with all the live tweets. We feel you. Here’s what you missed. (Past coverage here.)

Whitey on Tape: The court admitted taped recordings of Whitey Bulger’s phone conversations from the Plymouth County jail into evidence today, which means we get to eavesdrop on Bulger’s phone conversations! (He knew he was being recorded.)

In one conversation with his nephew and niece, Bulger described a Dorchester tavern owner, Edward Connors, who was gunned down in a phone booth in 1975. Bulger referred to him as “the guy in the phone booth,” before immitating the rat tat tat of a machine gun and noting that “Somebody threw my name in the mix,” of potential perpetrators. This was before good old Johnny Martorano rather definitively glued his name to the mix while under oath in trial few weeks ago. Martorano testified that Bulger gunned Connors down because he knew about another murder. This phone call isn’t exactly a smoking gun, but when paired with that testimony, it’s awfully chilling to hear.

Also of note is Bulger getting a kick out of retelling a story in which he aimed a shot gun at three black guys who walked into his liquor store. “They’re getting ready to stick the joint up, so I picked up a shotgun and I’m aimin’ it at them. And the guy looked up and, ‘Oh.’”

The Boston Globe uploaded the excerpts. Here’s the Connors conversation:

And his shotgun:

The drugs: We also heard extensive testimony from two drug dealers who worked under Bulger’s protection, further putting to rest the myth that Bulger kept the drugs out of Southie. Perhaps the most chilling story came from William Shea, who had a cordial relationship with Bulger while dealing in marijuana and cocaine in Southie in the late 70s and 80s (and funneling quite a bit of the profit to Bulger.) Actually, his relationship still seems cordial. Asked to identify Bulger, Shea said, “he’s the young fellow over there,” to which Bulger chuckled. How droll!

But back to the terrifying story: Shea says he eventually made enough money and wanted out of the game, which made Bulger mad. Shea described being picked up by Bulger and Flemmi, who drove him to an empty construction site, where he was pretty sure he was about to get whacked. Shea noted how he made sure to sit in the backseat of the car (so he couldn’t be shot in the back of the head) and to stand with his back against the concrete foundation where they talked with a gun at the ready in case he was attacked. “My hearts beating a bit. I knew if it went bad, I’m gone. He mentioned trust. Is he thinking I’m a loose end? I know too much,” he recounted.

It seems Bulger just wanted to scare Shea and to gain assurances that he wouldn’t use any of the information he had against him. Once those assurances were given, Bulger seemed satisfied. Even so, Shea opted to walk home. It’s no wonder this story’s been adapted into books and film so often. You couldn’t script a more nerve-wracking scene.