Dick Lehr: On Whitey Bulger and the Upcoming Trial of the Century
Today he's known simply as WHITEY -- the Boston gangster whose epic crime story has become the stuff of history. It's not just he's a stone-cold, hands-on killer (he faces 19 murder charges); or his longevity (he's now 83, and his underworld reign covered decades). He's made history because he brought the Boston FBI to its knees, corrupting FBI agents so they acted as his palace guard and protected him from rivals in the underworld and from other police agencies seeking to bust him.
Whitey Bulger has become America's most notorious crime boss because he's at the center of the worst informant scandal in FBI history -- and now, in June 2013, he finally goes to trial in federal court in Boston in a racketeering case that has attracted media from around the world. It's one of those rare legal spectacles -- a proverbial trial of a century -- where Whitey himself has promised to take the stand to explain his claim that the U.S. government promised him immunity against prosecution for his reign of terror in Boston and beyond, a brutal, blood-splattered legacy of extortion, loan sharking, drug trafficking, torture and murder. The trial, expected to last throughout the summer, will take viewers into the heart of darkness, featuring Whitey's secret control of a band of Boston FBI agents.
Whitey's life story is told in our new biography WHITEY: The Life of America's Most Notorious Mob Boss the most comprehensive study of Whitey to date, covering his formative years as a boy on the streets of South Boston during the Depression; his bank-robbing years, which resulted in his only stint in prison, including Alcatraz; his role in the infamous LSD experiments in prison, backed secretly by the CIA; his rise to power in the 1970s with the help of the FBI; his sixteen years on the lam as a fugitive from justice and, finally, his capture in Santa Monica in 2011. It's all there, a biography that gives readers insight into the making of the monster and reveals the origins of Whitey's sense of invincibility and entitlement above the law.
And there's more. By chance, Whitey's saga will unfold this summer on a second stage besides the courtroom. It's the streets of Boston, where film star Johnny Depp will portray Whitey in BLACK MASS, the motion picture adaptation of our previous book about Whitey that incorporates material from our new biography. Barry Levinson, the Academy-award winning director, will be shifting his cast and crew around the city to capture Whitey's rise and fall for the big screen while federal prosecutors and Whitey's lawyers tangle in the courtroom over the mountain of evidence showing Whitey as calculating psychopath and cold-blooded killer.
--Dick Lehr, co-author of WHITEY: The Life of America's Most Notorious Mob Boss