Bulger Day 19: Tales of Extortion

The trial of Whitey Bulger saw a parade of former extortion victims testify Friday.

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.) 

There was a veritable parade of witnesses in the trial today, from ex-criminals, to relatives of victims, to experts.

The Witnesses: Testimony began with a story we’ve already heard before—the story of a drug dealer extorted by Kevin Weeks and Whitey Bulger. Paul “Polecat” Moore, a convicted Southie coke dealer who’s in the witness protection program with immunity, described being “fined” by Weeks for buying his cocaine from others. When asked what would happen if he didn’t pay up, he replied, “You’d get hurt.”

We heard an even more disturbing extortion story from Anthony Attardo, manager of “The Sports Connection” bar in Southie, and former cocaine dealer himself. Bulger told Attardo he owed $100,000 because he’d been buying his supply from others. When Attardo refused, his 17-year-old brother got shot. (He survived.) Bulger showed up to his house to say “You’re next,” after which Attardo promptly paid up. Yeesh. On cross, Bulger’s lawyer got Attardo to admit that he’s lied on the stand before in other trials to protect Weeks, who he considered a friend.

We also heard from Dr. Kathleen Crowley, who gave the court a very detailed lesson in dental records. Bulger had instructed his minions to pull the teeth out of their victims to hinder identification, according to Weeks. But Crowley took the jury through the technical process that helped her confirm the identities of Bucky Barrett and John McIntyre, whose remains were recovered decades after burial (as we heard in gruesome detail this week.) So, uh, there’s your lesson in committing crimes for the day:  pulling the teeth out of victims doesn’t always work.

We also heard from relatives of victims, including Pat Donahue, whose husband Michael was shot will giving a ride home to Bulger’s intended target. And we heard from Steve Davis, brother of Stephen Flemmi’s girlfriend Debra Davis. Steve Davis got emotional as he described how Flemmi acted concerned when Debra went missing, saying he’d help find her and they shouldn’t contact law enforcement. (They didn’t believe him. Flemmi now says that Bulger strangled her.)

Coming Up Next: Flemmi, by the way, is likely to testify next week. The prosecution said this week that they were moving pretty quickly, and might be able to rest their case by the end of next week.