Bulger Day 22: A Game of Russian Roulette

A witness described being extorted by Whitey Bulger.

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.)

Undoubtedly the most fascinating witness was David Lindholm, who grew up in Milton and became a marijuana importer and dealer in the ’80s. He went to jail, testified against a fellow inmate in an unrelated crime, and had his sentence reduced. Lindholm noted that he once smuggled 125 tons of marijuana into Louisiana in 1983, and sold it for $72 million, paying his supplier just $40 million. So, uh, business was good. But with success came challenges … like being extorted by Whitey Bulger.

Eventually, Lindholm was brought into Stephen Flemmi’s club where he was confronted by Bulger and the gang. Lindholm testified that Bulger demanded Lindholm give him $1 million. He put a bullet into the chamber of a gun and fired it at Lindholm’s head, Russian Roulette style. Lindholm figured Bulger wouldn’t actually kill him because he wanted money, so Lindholm bluffed about his actual earnings until he could get away with paying up $250,000. At the end of the interaction, “He shook my hand and told me I handled myself well.” Again, this is the kind of story we’ve heard before, but Bulger’s alleged brazenness just never ceases to amaze.

Aside from that we heard a DNA expert testify on identifying the victims dug up from various graves over the years, and testimony from family and associates the victims. That included Pam Wheeler, daughter of Roger Wheeler, the owner of World Jai Alai, who was killed because Bulger’s gang feared he’d discover his employee had been skimming profits. Also testifying was Donald DeFago, a former agent with US Customs Services, who worked with a cooperating witness, John McIntyre, in his investigation of drug smuggling out of Boston Harbor. The prosecution alleges Bulger had McIntyre killed for his cooperation.

It was, in essence, another day of parading prosecution witnesses as the government gets ready to wrap up its case.