"Whitey" Bulger Hitman Says He Was a ‘Vigilante…Not a Serial Killer’
Wendy Maeda/The Boston Globe via Getty Images(BOSTON) — Nightclub owner Richard Castucci had made a lot of mistakes in his life, but his biggest would prove to be too trusting of an FBI agent who grew up in South Boston.
Castucci was 48 and a father of four when he went to the FBI and said he had information on accused Boston mob boss James “Whitey” Bulger’s alleged criminal activities. Castucci’s information made its way to FBI agent John Connolly, who had been nicknamed “Zip” by Bulger and his Winter Hill gang because the lawman shared the same South Boston zip code as the Bulger clan.
“Whitey came and told us Zip Connolly told him Richie was in there,” John Martorano told the court Tuesday in his second day of testimony in Bulger’s federal trial on 19 murders. Monday was the first time Martorano saw Bulger since 1982. He told the court that he was once so close to Bulger that he named his youngest son after him.
Bulger told Martorano and another Winter Hill gang associate, Stephen “The Rifleman” Flemmi, that Castucci had to go, Martorano testified Tuesday. “We decided to take Richie out,” he said.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Fred Wyshak asked Martorano to clarify. “You decided to murder Mr. Castucci?”
“Yeah,” Martorano answered. “Once we made the decision we called Richie up and told him to come over.”
Castucci was driven to the Somerville, Mass., garage that acted as the Winter Hill gang’s headquarters, Martorano told the court. There, Castucci and Bulger sat at a table “counting money.”
Martorano came into the kitchen and pulled his favorite gun, a snub-nose .38 revolver, from his pocket. He told the court he liked to carry a snub-nose .38 because he could easily slip it in and out of his pocket.
Castucci never saw it coming. “I walked around to the side of Mr. Castucci,” Martorano told the court. He then pointed his finger at his forehead and continued. “I shot him in the temple. Stevie and Whitey cleaned it up.”
The cleanup involved stuffing Castucci’s body into a sleeping bag, which was then put in the trunk of his own Cadillac, which was abandoned behind an apartment complex not far from the nightclub the victim owned, Martorano testified. It was winter 1976, and by the time Castucci’s car was finally discovered it was buried in nearly four feet of snow. And his body was frozen solid.
An evidence photo of Castucci’s icy remains in the trunk of his car with the sleeping bag zipped up to his chin was entered into evidence along with another picture of a hole in the victim’s right temple.
Bulger’s relationship with John “Zip” Connolly helped the Winter Hill gang more than once, Martorano testified. “We were told things.”
In 1982, Bulger warned Martorano about a pending indictment connected to fixing horse races. Martorano decided he “was going to go away for six months and have a vacation,” he testified.
That conversation would be Martorano’s last face-to-face contact with Bulger until his testimony this week in a South Boston federal courthouse. But even if Martorano and Bulger didn’t see each other, Martorano said he would still kill for his boss.
“I didn’t enjoy killing anybody. I enjoyed helping a friend if I could,” Martorano told the court.
“I would rather be considered a vigilante than a serial killer,” Martorano told the court. “I was always taught to take care of my family and my friends. Family and friends come first. My father always taught me that. The priests and the nuns I grew up with taught me that….Judas is the worst person in the world.”
It wouldn’t be until 1994 that Martorano would discover his friends, “my partners in crime, my children’s godfathers,” he said on the stand Monday, were cooperating with the Boston FBI. That news “broke my heart,” Martorano said.
Before that, Martorano continued to kill for the Winter Hill gang, especially when “Mr. Bulger insisted on it,” he said. Bulger would insist on a number of murders in the 1980s, and Martorano admitted to committing three of Bulger’s orders on the stand.
“We were up to our necks in murders,” he testified.
It had taken two days of testimony to cover the murders the government’s star witness against Bulger had committed. The prosecutor, Wyshak, finished his questioning with this:
“Mr. Martorano, do you regret your life of crime?”
Martorano answered, “Who wouldn’t?”
Then it was Bulger’s defense attorneys’ turn to question Martorano. Attorney Hank Brennan began by peppering Martorano with questions.
“You’ve killed for friends?”
“Yes.” Martorano answered.
“You’ve killed for family?” Brennan asked.
Brennan went on asking, “You have killed strangers? You have killed innocent people?” Martorano answered correct two more times.
Then came a question that seemed to stun Martorano.
“Did you say hi to your friend before you were going to murder him, did you look him in the eye?” Brennan asked.
Martorano hesitated slightly then answered: “Yes I did.”
He is expected to take the stand again Wednesday for additional cross-examination by Bulger’s attorneys, who continue to depict him as a liar willing to do anything to save his own neck and profit from his crimes.
Martorano said Monday that he received $250,000 in a movie deal and made another $50,000 collaborating on the book, Hitman, by Boston newspaperman Howie Carr. The FBI had also given him $20,000 when he got out of jail.
Connolly is now serving a life sentence in connection with the murder of John B. Callahan, a successful Boston businessman and longtime Martorano ally, after he was accused of providing information for the hit. Martorano testified against him.
Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio
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