A Meal Eaten Cold

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The Italians say Revenge is a meal that’s best eaten cold. I guess Jimmy Bulger would have agreed.

James Joseph Bulger Junior grew up in abject poverty on the dirt-poor streets of South Boston in the 1930’s and 40’s, along with his two younger brothers, William, better known as “Billy,” and the baby, John, whom the Bulgers dubbed “Jackie.” Billy and Jackie were good boys who worked hard at school and excelled, but Jimmy was a tough street scrapper who succumbed to the lure of the streets. While Jackie went on to become a court magistrate, and Billy a lawyer and eventually Democratic Senator William Michael Bulger, the longest-serving President of the Massachusetts Senate, Jimmy was a career criminal, a ruthless gangster and organised crime boss, leader of Boston’s infamous Winter Hill Gang. The local cops nicknamed him “Whitey” because of his blond head of hair. Jimmy hated the name, but it was a tag that stuck to him all his life.

According to the Federal Bureau of Investigation, in the 1970’s Whitey Bulger became an informant, providing the FBI with information about the inner workings of the Winter Hill Gang’s number one rival, the Italian-American Patriarca crime family. The relationship between Whitey and the FBI reportedly lasted for years. But eventually it dragged the Bureau into serious disrepute when, in the mid-‘90’s, the media exposed criminal acts by federal, state and local police tied up with Bulger. Tipped off by his former FBI handler John Connolly about a pending indictment under the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organisations (RICO) Act, Whitey went into hiding. Now publicly exposed as an informant on the Italian-American Mafia, he stayed on the run for the next 16 years, becoming the FBI’s second-most-wanted, right behind Osama Bin Laden in number one spot.

Still, despite all his wicked ways, Whitey’s nearest and dearest held firm. When called before the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform in 2002, his brother Billy, a highly-respected former Senator and current president of the University of Massachusetts, refused to answer questions about his brother’s whereabouts. As a result Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney waged an extended campaign that eventually saw Billy resign his university post in 2003. In the same year, the youngest Bulger brother, retired magistrate John “Jackie” Bulger, was convicted of perjury for lying about contact with his fugitive brother.

Eight years later, on June 22, 2011, at the ripe old age of 81, Whitey Bulger was finally tracked down in Santa Monica, California. He was charged with 23 counts of racketeering, money laundering, extortion, and weapons charges, including complicity in 19 murders, and sentenced to two consecutive life terms in a federal penitentiary.

Last week, the 89-year-old, wheelchair-bound Whitey Bulger was transferred to a federal facility in Hazleton West Virginia where, according to The New York Times, he was beaten to death by at least two inmates within hours of his arrival. More than 40 years after Whitey Bulger turned stoolie on the Boston Mafia, the Globe reported that an inmate with “Mafia ties” was being investigated over his brutal murder.

Now that’s a meal eaten cold.

Chris Nyst

Lawyer, Novelist and Film Maker

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