Months before sadistic Southie mobster James “Whitey” Bulger was recruited by the FBI, he was hunted for loan sharking where he was wiretapped and beat an agency mole, newly declassified records imply.
Bulger “slapped around” that informant, records suggest, over “debts” the agency ordered deliberately left unpaid to spark anger. It’s all part of a 300-page, heavily redacted FBI file on a crazed crook linked to 11 murders, but traced to 19 or more.
The Herald filed a Freedom of Information Act request two years ago in August seeking those records that were finally posted on the FBI’s “Vault” online library this weekend.
A wheelchair-bound Bulger was brutally murdered — his eyes gouged out — in a West Virginia prison in October 2018. He was 89 years old and his kin, including former UMass and Senate president William “Billy” Bulger, are suing the federal prison system for $200 million.
But Whitey’s loan sharking, horse fixing and ruthless enforcing comes to life in the pages of the FBI folder, at least the pages that were not left blank or totally deleted.
It’s clear that top bosses at the FBI, including directors, knew of Bulger’s street-thug tactics as the New England Organized Crime Strike Force targeted gangsters and the mafia.
The records — some that have to be studied upside down in a mirror — state the FBI in 1974 was on Bulger’s trail along with “different hoodlum groups in the Boston area” where victims of loan sharks made “juice payments” — or faced the consequences.
The FBI’s rat, one entry from November 1974 states, was “in constant fear for his life” for holding back loan payments as told to by the agency. But he was “willing to testify” and consented “to be equipped with a body recorder in order to obtain corroborative evidence.”
“Emergency authorization” was given to the informant to tape making “juice payments on five loans to five separate hoodlum groups” where he fell “behind in all,” one dispatch states. The FBI adds the source was hidden in a motel for safekeeping to let the case come to a full boil.
Bulger was soon recruited by rising-star FBI agent John “Zip” Connolly — who tipped Bulger off to the feds closing in on him on Dec. 23, 1994, allowing him to run free until he was caught in Santa Monica, Calif., 16 years later. He was living with Catherine Greig where they hid $822,198 in cash in the wall inside their apartment.
Connolly — freed from a Florida prison this past February because a review board said he’s “terminally ill” — was convicted of second-degree murder in 2008. He was linked to one of Bulger’s murders.
The FBI files also include a who’s who of New York City and Las Vegas mobsters linked in a national horse-racing scheme to bribe jockeys and drug horses to guarantee that bets made by mobsters — including Bulger’s Winter Hill Gang members back in Somerville — would all cash in.
The horses doped or “held” back by jockeys paid off went by the names of “No Hurry,” “Lyric Poet,” Rollingindough,” “Night Wind” and “Cactus Jack R.” Cactus Jack, the FBI files state, was a “live horse,” which was almost guaranteed to win, place or show.
The former Suffolk Downs in Boston, Pocono Down in Pennsylvania, Garden State and Atlantic City in New Jersey, and more are all named in the files. The Las Vegas casinos and hotels name include the Dunes, Tropicana and the Riviera.
The mobsters noted were Howie Winter, Bulger’s predecessor in the Winter Hill Gang who died last year; Meyer Lansky, aka the “Mob’s Accountant,” Frank “Lefty” Rosenthal; and “Fat” Tony Salerno from New York City’s Genovese crime family.
The FBI states Bulger and others in Boston all kept them in the loop out of fear of reprisal.
SEE FOR YOURSELF: The entire 300-page declassified FBI file on James “Whitey” Bulger posted online at bostonherald.com. (Herald photo.)
FILE – This June 23, 2011, file booking photo provided by the U.S. Marshals Service shows James “Whitey” Bulger. Family members of Boston crime boss James “Whitey” Bulger Jr. have filed a lawsuit against the Federal Bureau of Prisons for failing to protect Bulger, who was beaten to death in a West Virginia prison. The family filed the lawsuit on Oct. 30, 2020 two years after Bulger was transferred to United States Penitentiary, Hazelton, and killed. (U.S. Marshals Service via AP, File)
The Brothers Bulger are part of a new Discovery+ documentary.
(080113 – Boston, Ma) Evidence photo shows former pro hockey player Chris Nilan and James Whitey Bulger with the Stanley Cup trophy. (Herald file photo.)
Janet Uhlar sits for a photo at her dining room table with an arrangement of letters and pictures she received through her correspondence with imprisoned Boston organized crime boss James “Whitey” Bulger, Friday, Jan. 31, 2020, in Eastham, Mass. Uhlar was one of 12 jurors who found Bulger guilty in a massive racketeering case, including involvement in 11 murders. But now she says she regrets voting to convict Bulger on the murder charges, because she learned he was an unwitting participant in a secret CIA experiment in which he was dosed with LSD on a regular basis for 15 months. (AP Photo/David Goldman)
(063011, Boston, MA) Whitey Bulger is taken from a Coast Guard helicopter to an awaiting Sherif vehicle after attending federal court in Boston. Thursday, June 30, 2011. (Staff photo by Stuart Cahill)
This 1953 Boston police booking photo shows James “Whitey” Bulger after an arrest. Bulger and his girlfriend Catherine Greig were apprehended on June 22, 2011, in Santa Monica, Calif., after 16 years on the run. He was convicted of multiple crimes and sentenced to federal prison in 2013. His October 2018 killing in prison was one of Massachusetts’ top stories of the year. (Boston Police via AP, File)
Donato Angiulo and James “Whitey” Bulger in 1980 at the Lancaster Street Garage. Boston Herald file photo
1.18.00 The bad guys (Whitey Bulger and Steve Flemmi). DO NOT GIVE OUT. Herald file photo
(063011, Boston, MA) Whitey Bulger is taken from a Coast Guard helicopter to an awaiting Sheriff”s vehicle after attending Federal Court in Boston. Thursday, June 30, 2011. (Staff photo by Stuart Cahill)