'Best friend' testifies to mobster's role in killings over several decades.
BOSTON -- Mobster James "Whitey" Bulger was the triggerman in a the fatal shooting of a bar owner who had been 'bragging' about having set up another murder for Bulger's notorious Winter Hill Gang, a confessed hit man testified Tuesday at his federal trial.
John Martorano, who has confessed to 20 murders and served 12 yeas in prison, said the six gang members met and decided together to kill Eddie Connors, who had warned the gang about a retaliation plot.
Because Connors was viewed as talking too much, the gang sent Bulger and fellow gang member Stephen Flemmi to kill him in a gas station phone booth 38 years ago this week.
"I let them out" of the car, said Martorano, who was driving. "They walked up the hill. They went to the phone booth and shot Eddie."
Martorano's comments came during his second day on the witness stand in Bulger's 32-count racketeering trial.
He also testified Tuesday that Bulger had participated in the killing of Richard Castucci, an associate who had become an FBI informant.
Bulger took Castucci to a Somerville apartment to count money which was said to be owed to a friend of Castucci. While they were sitting at a table, Martorano came in and shot Castucci in the temple.
"I think Stevie [Flemmi] and Whitey cleaned it up," Martorano said.
On Monday, Martorano recalled another series of murders in which Bulger allegedly played a role during the 1970s, testifying that the defendant once had to duck to avoid getting shot by friendly fire and another time cleaned up the blood himself.
Martorano said Bulger was involved in decisions authorizing team efforts to "take out" individuals who posed trouble.
One victim was James Sousa, an associate who seemed a risk to spill secrets to authorities after he was arrested in a fraudulent gold scheme.
He was targeted after six gang members held a meeting.
"We decided to kill Sousa," Martorano said.
"Was Mr. Bulger part of that discussion?," asked Assistant U.S. Attorney Fred Wyshak.
"I believe so," Martorano said.
The assassin's testimony came as prosecutors aimed to paint Bulger as a "hands-on killer" who bears responsibility for 19 murders as well as acts of extortion, money laundering and firearm violations. Martorano was so close to Bulger and Flemmi that he named his youngest son, James Stephen, after them.
"They were my partners in crime," Martorano said. "They were my best friends. They were my children's godfathers."
As Wyshak probed for details, Martorano recalled how gang members would identify targets, dispatch a small fleet of vehicles and snuff out lives -- including some they hadn't planned to end.
He told, for instance, of hunting for Al Notorangeli in March 1973 as payback for allegedly murdering Paulie Folino, an associate of Italian Mob boss and Winter Hill ally Jerry Angiulo.
Martorano rode in the "boiler," a stolen car, equipped with guns. Bulger drove behind in a "radio car" with a police scanner and walkie-talkie to alert the others if cops were coming. Additional "crash" cars came along so that if police tried to chase the shooters, they could cause an accident and block pursuing patrol cars.
At about 2 a.m., they followed a brown Mercedes away from Boston's North End with plans to kill Notorangeli, he said. They opened fire at a stoplight, accidentally killing Michael Milano, he said. To their surprise, Notorangeli wasn't in the car.
"Wrong guy," Martorano said.
After another failed attempt left a second victim dead, Martorano shot Notorangeli and left him in the trunk of a car, which some youngsters ended up stealing, according to his account.