A convicted drug dealer from South Boston told a US District Court jury today that James “Whitey” Bulger ordered him to pay $100,000 in tribute in the 1980s, and that he only agreed to pay the money to the South Boston gangster after his 17-year-old brother was shot.
Anthony Attardo, 55, a retired Marine who manages The Sports Connection, a bar in South Boston, said Bulger showed up at his house the day after his brother was shot and told him “you’re next” if he did not pay the $100,000.
Bulger was never charged in the shooting, but Attardo said he believes he was involved. He had other siblings, so he agreed to pay. The teen survived the shooting.
“I grew up in Southie all my life… everybody knew his reputation,” Attardo said. “Very dangerous. He meant what he said.”
Attardo said he was selling 25 kilos of cocaine and making $35,000 a month in the 1980s – with cocaine he bought in Florida – but Bulger’s crew was angry he wasn’t buying from them.
Attardo said he gave Bulger $80,000 after the visit at his home, and that the gangster told him, “You can do what you want now.”
Henry B. Brennan, an attorney for Bulger, suggested through cross examination that Attardo has a history of lying on the witness stand, including about his own crimes. Attardo agreed he has lied before and tried to protect Kevin Weeks, one of Bulger’s cohorts who later cooperated in the case against Bulger.
Attardo was sentenced to eight years in prison in 1998 for trafficking prescription medication. He was also involved in a scheme to extort money from drug dealers from the Dominican Republic who were operating in South Boston. The dealers were really undercover law enforcement officers.
Earlier today, another former drug dealer from South Boston told the jury in Bulger’s racketeering trial that he sold drugs and paid rent to Bulger because he feared he would “get hurt.”
“He was the boss,” Paul Moore told jurors.
Moore, now 63, an Army veteran and former local boxer and bouncer, said that he partnered with Bulger’s cohort Billy Shea to sell cocaine around 1981. He later sold marijuana.
“I wanted to make some money,” he said.
He said he eventually sold several kilos of cocaine and hundreds of pounds of marijuana a week. He would pay $3,000 to $5,000 to Bulger in rent, as a tribute that allowed him to continue his activities in South Boston.
At one point, in 1983, Billy Shea was arrested, but Moore continued to pay Bulger through Bulger’s one-time ally, Weeks. They also bought their drug supply from Bulger’s crew.
“They wanted their tribute, and we paid,” said Moore.
Moore said he paid $3,600 directly to Bulger once, and the gangster asked, “Is it all there?”
He also said he was ordered to pay a $10,000 fine once for buying his drugs from another drug ring, even though Bulger’s crew had no supply available.
Moore said he complained to Weeks, but was told he or his partner could “end up in a body bag.” He said Weeks, who he had known since childhood, later apologized.
Moore and Attardo are listed among Bulger’s alleged extortion victims in a sweeping federal racketeering indictment that alleges he ran a criminal enterprise based on threats. Bulger is also accused of murder and money laundering.
Moore agreed to cooperate with authorities after he was sentenced to nine years in prison for a drug trafficking arrest in 1990. His sentence was halved and he and his wife were placed in a witness protection program.
Under questioning by Bulger’s lawyer, J.W. Carney Jr., Moore agreed that he knew his drug dealing was illegal, but that Bulger had established rules and he would be OK if – as Carney put it – “you followed the rules and paid your debt.”
Moore also agreed that he never sold pot to children and never sold heroin or angel dust, which Carney suggested were more lethal street drugs.
“It wouldn’t be allowed in South Boston,” Moore said.
Moore later agreed under questioning by prosecutors that he sold cocaine, and that people can overdose from cocaine.
For decades, Bulger kept a myth that he kept drugs out of South Boston. But in his racketeering trial, he has acknowledged being the head of drug rings.
Also Monday, Dr. Kathleen Crowley, a forensic dentist who consults for the state medical examiner’s office, matched the dental records of Arthur “Bucky” Barrett, one of Bulger’s alleged victims, with the remains of a man found in a makeshift grave in 2000.
Stephen “The Rifleman” Flemmi removed Barrett’s teeth so it would be tougher to identify him after Bulger allegedly shot Barrett in 1983, according to Weeks, who testified this week that he helped bury the remains.
Crowley also said dental records identified the remains of John McIntyre, a Quincy fisherman who was 32 when Bulger allegedly killed him in November 1984. McIntyre had implicated Bulger’s gang in drug smuggling and an ill-fated effort to ship guns to the Irish Republican Army.
Mobile users unable to see the video, click here.Shelley Murphy can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter @shelleymurph. Milton J. Valencia can be reached at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @miltonvalencia.