June 17, 2013

Longtime hitman says Bulger 'broke my heart'

The ex-gangster says he was 'stunned' that Bulger had been an FBI informant, and placed him in murder scenes.

The Associated Press

BOSTON — An ex-gangster who admitted killing 20 people was unemotional Monday when describing his line of work at the trial of his former partner, James "Whitey" Bulger, but called himself heartbroken when he learned that Bulger had become an FBI informant.

click image to enlarge

In this Sept. 17, 2008, photo, John Martorano is questioned in a Miami courtroom about his plea agreement in exchange for testifying against former FBI agent John Connolly. Connolly was accused of helping the Boston mob murder Miami gambling executive John Callahan in 1982 at Miami International Airport. Martorano will be on the witness stand Monday to testify at the trial of James "Whitey" Bulger.

AP

John Martorano gave short answers and spoke nonchalantly when questioned by a prosecutor about a string of murders he committed while he, Bulger and Stephen "The Rifleman" Flemmi were members of the Winter Hill Gang.

The only flash of sentiment came early in his testimony, when he was asked to describe his relationship with Bulger and Flemmi.

"They were my partners in crime, they were my best friends, they were my children's godfathers," Martorano said. He said he named his youngest son James Stephen after Bulger and Flemmi.

Martorano said he was stunned to learn years later that Bulger and Flemmi had been providing information to the FBI at the same time they were committing crimes for the gang.

"After I heard that they were informants, it sort of broke my heart," he said.

Martorano, 72, served 12 years in prison after striking a cooperation deal with prosecutors. He was released in 2007.

Bulger, now 83, is charged in a broad racketeering indictment that accuses him of participating in 19 murders in the 1970s and '80s. He is also charged with extorting bookmakers, drug dealers and others running illegal businesses.

Martorano, 72, is one of three former Bulger cohorts who cooperated with the government and agreed to testify against Bulger and others in return for reduced sentences.

Bulger's attorneys did not get the chance to question Martorano on Monday, but are expected to aggressively attack his credibility once they get to cross-examine him. In opening statements last week, Bulger's lead attorney, J.W. Carney Jr., told the jury that prosecutors were so desperate to get Martorano to testify that "they basically threw their hands up in the air and said, 'Take anything you want."'

In his testimony Monday, Martorano described what he said was Bulger's involvement in several killings, saying that while he shot someone from a car, Bulger and others would ride in a second car to intervene if anyone tried to stop the shooting.

He described the death of one victim, Alfred Notarangeli, in 1974.

Martorano said Bulger's gang decided to kill Notarangeli to help the Italian Mafia in Boston, a sometime rival, whose leadership said Notarangeli had killed one of their agents and was a "loose cannon."

On March 8, 1973, Martorano said, he drove in the lead car while Bulger followed, both tailing a Mercedes they believed was driven by Notarangeli.

"We pulled guns and we were shooting at it," Martorano said, referring to himself and another member of the gang.

They later learned that it was not Notarangeli in the car, but instead a man named Michael Milano, who was shot to death. Martarano said they continued to chase Notarangeli and ended up killing him and his brother, Joseph Notarangeli.

Bulger is charged in the killings of both brothers, as well as Milano's killing.

Martarano also described how he said Bulger first became involved with former FBI Agent John Connolly Jr.

He said Connolly met with Bulger's brother, former Massachusetts Senate President William Bulger, in the mid-1970s to express his gratitude for being a mentor to him and to offer him help if he ever needed it.

Martorano said Whitey Bulger told him that his brother had told Connolly, "If you could keep my brother out of trouble, that would be helpful."

Martorano said that after that, Connolly helped the gang by tipping them off to investigations and said Connolly suggested to Bulger that he give Connolly money.

Were you interviewed for this story? If so, please fill out our accuracy form

Send question/comment to the editors




Further Discussion

Here at PressHerald.com we value our readers and are committed to growing our community by encouraging you to add to the discussion. To ensure conscientious dialogue we have implemented a strict no-bullying policy. To participate, you must follow our Terms of Use.

Questions about the article? Add them below and we’ll try to answer them or do a follow-up post as soon as we can. Technical problems? Email them to us with an exact description of the problem. Make sure to include:
  • Type of computer or mobile device your are using
  • Exact operating system and browser you are viewing the site on (TIP: You can easily determine your operating system here.)