Imprisoned Boston mobster Stevie Flemmi admitted yesterday to participating in “probably about 50” murders during the course of his 40 years in organized crime.
Testifying at the murder trial of his old partner, Cadillac Frank Salemme, the Rifleman was asked by defense lawyer Steve Boozang how many murders he had committed.
“More than 50,” Boozang asked, “or less than 50?”
Flemmi, who turns 84 today, paused to consider before answering.
“Well,” he finally said, “considering (Whitey) Bulger’s murders, (John) Martorano’s murders, Winter Hill’s murders, (Wimpy) Bennett’s murders – that’s a lot of murders.”
Flemmi finally settled on the number 50 – “either as an actual participant or the conspiratorial aspect.”
In 2003, Flemmi pleaded guilty to 10 murders, and is now serving a life sentence plus 30 years in an undisclosed federal penitentiary. He was brought back to Boston to testify against Salemme, the former godfather of the New England Mafia who is charged with murdering a Boston bar owner in May 1993.
Flemmi claims he happened by Salemme’s house in Sharon as Salemme’s late son, Frank Jr. and the other defendant, Paul Weadick, now 63, strangled the bar owner.
Twelve of the 18 jurors and alternates are women, and as he began the cross examination Salemme’s attorney went into great detail about two of the 50 murders – those of two girlfriends of Flemmi, both 26 when they died. One, Deb Hussey, was the daughter of his common-law wife, by whom he had three children.
Asked about his sexual relationship with his stepdaughter, Flemmi mumbled “indiscretions” and claimed she was 18 when he began having sex with her.
Davis was strangled in 1982, Flemmi claims, by Whitey Bulger, his longtime underworld partner. When Flemmi testified about the murder of Davis at Bulger’s trial five years ago, he began screaming at Bulger’s lawyer when he was asked about the murder, after which Flemmi pulled her teeth and stripped her body naked. She was then buried in a shallow grave on a state-owned beach.
Flemmi had brought to her to a house on East Third Street “next to Bill Bulger’s house,” as Flemmi put it, where Whitey murdered her.
“Did you close your eyes?” Boozang asked.
“I wish I did,” Flemmi replied.
“What was the look on her face,” Boozang asked, “knowing that you had lured her to that house for an animal like Whitey Bulger to strangle her?”
Prosecutors objected to the question, and Flemmi did not answer it. Boozang then asked Flemmi why he had told Davis’ mother that he would hire private detectives to investigate her disappearance.
“I couldn’t very well say I’d done it,” Flemmi said.
Boozang kept returning to the two dead young women. He asked Flemmi about the murder of Arthur “Bucky” Barrett, a burglar. Flemmi was walking down the stairs into the basement of “the death house” on East Third Street ahead of McIntyre. Behind them was Bulger, with a MAC 10 machine gun, on single shot.
Suddenly Bulger fired into Barrett’s head, and he fell forward, dead, into Flemmi, knocking him down the stairs. Flemmi was livid.
“I didn’t think he’d shoot him on the stairs,” Flemmi said. “If the gun had been on automatic, I wouldn’t be talking to you here today.”
“And there’d be two girls still alive,” Boozang said.
On the witness stand, Flemmi sometimes lapsed into self-pity, lamenting that all the money he made had led to nothing but problems. But he still quoted a bit of doggerel about affluence:
“If you’re broke you’re a joke. If you have money you’re funny.”
Flemmi again tried to blame the most gruesome crimes on Bulger, who was convicted of 11 murders at his 2013 trial.
“This is the type of guy he was, a very violent guy,” Flemmi told Boozang.
How about you? Boozang asked.
“I wasn’t a Casper Milquetoast,” Flemmi said, referring to an old comic strip character. Boozang pointed out that Flemmi too was known for his violent ways.
“Anybody in that business has to be violent,” he said. “A lot of guys died because they weren’t violent, weren’t aggressive. Howie Winters and Johnny Martorano, Jimmy Sims, these were violent guys.” Flemmi paused for a moment and then looked over at the defendant.
“Frank too,” he said.
Boozang’s cross examination continues this morning.