The rise, fall and escape of Whitey Bulger
1953: Bulger, then 24, moves on from gang fights of his youth and becomes a
career criminal, progressing from hijacking to bank holdups.
1956: Bulger, hiding out and his hair dyed black, is hauled out of a Revere
nightclub on charges of robbing banks in Melrose, Providence, and Indiana. He
is convicted and serves nine years in federal penitentiaries, including
Alcatraz, before returning to Boston in 1965.
1979: The incarceration of Winter Hill Gang leader Howie Winter leaves
Whitey Bulgerand his right-hand man, Stevie Flemmi, in control of all
non-Mafia rackets in Greater Boston. Bulger had joined the gang shortly after
getting out of prison for bank robbery in 1965.
1980: State Police bug North Station garage where Bulger holds court and
collects tribute from bookmakers. Apparently knowing they are being listened
to, Bulger and his associates engage in idle, sometimes sarcastic banter. No
arrests follow and the seeds of law enforcement mistrust are planted.
1981: FBI bugs the North End headquarters of the Angiulo brothers, gathering
the evidence that will ultimately destroy the Angiulos' four-decade reign as
premier organized crime group in metropolitan Boston. They are arrested in
1983: State trooper notices bookies showing up at Heller's, a nondescript
Chelsea bar, which turns out to be the bookies' "bank," where checks from
gamblers are laundered. FBI joins case, plants bugs in 1986, and authorities
learn who pays "rent" to the Mafia and who pays to Winter Hill. It becomes
the key to bringing the Bulger case.
1986: FBI bugs Vanessa's, an Italian food emporium in the Prudential Center,
where the successors to the Angiulo regime have set up shop. The Mafiosi who
gathered there to shake down bookies are indicted in 1989 and imprisoned in
1989: Mafia boss Frank Salemme survives assassination bid by rivals from
Vanessa's. A South Boston bar owner and mortgage company official, Tim
Connolly, claims Whitey Bulgermenaced him with a knife, demanding $50,000
after Connolly dropped tha ball on getting a loan for a drug trafficker who
owed Bulger money - the strongest evidence yet linking Bulger to drugs and
1990: 51 people said to be part of a South Boston-based drug ring overseen by
Bulger's underlings are arrested. All eventually plead guilty, but only one of
them agrees to cooperate with government, and he does not implicate Bulger.
1991: State Police convince bookie Burton (Chico) Krantz agrees to become an
informant. He claims he paid "rent" to Bulger and Flemmi. State Police bring
evidence to federal authorities, and joint investigation goes on for more than
1995: Fearing some of the suspects may be preparing to flee, state and federal
agents swoop in. Flemmi is captured as he leaves a Financial District
restaurant. Bulger and Salemme get away. Indictment charging them and four
others, mostly with extorting bookies, is unsealed. For the first time in 39
years, Whitey Bulger is facing criminal charges.
This story ran on page 25 of the Boston Globe on 3/05/1995.
© Copyright 1995 Globe Newspaper Company.