Bulger Day 28: A Farewell to Flemmi
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.)
On Flemmi’s Stay at “Club Fed.” Today marked the sixth and last day of testimony from former Bulger associate Stephen Flemmi. The tail-end of his cross-examination contained some amusing moments when Bulger’s lawyer Hank Brennan tried to characterize his current prison as “Club Fed.” “You think so?” Flemmi replied. “If I fed some of that food to my dog he’d bite me.” He objected to Brennan’s observation that they got hot dogs and hamburgers on July 4th by noting that both were all burned. At any rate, he finished up and sauntered back to his decidedly non-resort-like home. Given his candid admissions to 10 murders over the past few days, few will probably mind sending him back to the land of burned hot dogs.
How to Befriend Bulger. We got yet another glimpse into Bulger’s extortion methods via Richard Buccheri, a Quincy businessman and alleged extortion victim. Buchheri testified that when he got into a real estate dispute involving Kevin Weeks, he got called in to see Whitey Bulger. “I called my daughter and said ‘I’m going to South Boston and God forbid if something happens,” which was probably a good bet, because what happened is that Bulger stuck a gun in his mouth, told him, ” “If you don’t pay me I’m going to kill you and your family,” asked for $200,000 and sent him on his way. He took out a mortgage to come up with the cash and handed it over to Flemmi who informed him, “Jim says you’re a friend now.” Friendship, such a fickle thing. One day they’ve got a gun in your mouth, the next, they don’t. Auf Wiedersehen, Flemmi!
A Single ‘O’ We also heard testimony from Kevin O’Neil, one of three namesakes of the Triple O’s bar where Bulger did much of his extorting. O’Neil now works building houses (though he “looks like he ate a house,” according to Kevin Cullen.) He has never had to testify in public court, and didn’t seem anxious to be there. (He winked at Whitey during a break.) Nevertheless, he testified that he collected a lot of the “rent” from people who needed to pay Bulger and Flemmi, and put Bulger on his bar’s payroll. He also described seeing people leave their meetings looking “shaken,” and noting the presence of corrupt FBI Agent John Connolly on several occasions.
Where Are We Now? The prosecution has only two more witnesses, which they’ll likely get through on Friday, bringing their case to a rest. They are an IRS agent and an FBI agent involved in Bulger’s arrest at his Santa Monica apartment. We’re moving right along.