A drug smuggler told a jury Wednesday that during a shakedown, James "Whitey" Bulger pulled a pair of guns on him — one of which was loaded with one bullet, pointed at his head and the trigger pulled.
But the gun didn't go off, said William Lindholm, who testified against the 83-year-old alleged mob boss who he said held him at gunpoint and demanded $1 million.
Lindholm told the jury deciding Bulger's fate that he made millions smuggling drugs from Colombia into the United States and even recounted one shipment of 125 tons of marijuana that was brought in through Louisiana and had a gross earning of $72 million. His work allowed him to become an antique car and art collector, he said.
But it was in 1983 when an acquaintance asked him to meet up. So he did at the New England Aquarium. The acquaintance later drove him to a downtown club and directed him to go upstairs. That's where Bulger and his partner Stephen Flemmi were waiting.
Lindholm said Bulger pulled out two guns from under a towel placed on a cart and asked him if he knew why he was there.
"You're here because you're not with anybody," Lindholm said Bulger told him. Other drug dealers and bookmakers have previously testified that Bulger and members of his Winter Hill Gang would collect payments from them to be "with" them so they could operate.
Lindholm said that Bulger then began quizzing him about his different assets.
"I determined he didn't know that much about me. He knew something about me, but not that much about me ... didn't know the scope of what we were doing" in terms of drug smuggling, Lindholm said.
So when Bulger demanded Lindholm pay him $1 million, Lindholm decided to bluff and downplay the size of his marijuana business because he didn't want to pay Bulger that much money. He said he eventually negotiated down to $250,000.
That's when Bulger let him go.
"He shook my hand and told me that I handled myself well and some other people didn't handle themselves so well," Lindholm said. "I was just glad to get out of there."
Follow Michael Naughton on Twitter @metrobosmike