After release, gambling, book deals, government money for Martorano

john martorano bulger boston
Confessed killer and James “Whitey” Bulger associate John Martorano testifies during a trial in Florida.
Credit: Al Diaz/Miami Herald

Lawyers for James “Whitey” Bulger tried Wednesday to characterize confessed killer John Martorano as a liar who gambled, took government money and profited from the slaying of others. 

Martorano, 72, is a key government witness in the case against Bulger, the accused mob boss. Martorano finished his testimony Wednesday after being cross examined by Bulger attorney Henry Brennan.

Brennan repeatedly grilled Martorano on his book and movie deals, which have combined made him about $320,000 so far.

Martorano said he partnered with Herald columnist Howie Carr on a book titled “Hitman,” but that he had little editorial control of it.

“I cared if it was accurate or fairly accurate,” Martorano said.

Later, Brennan asked him “But for you it was really just about the money?”

“Correct,” Martorano replied.

Brennan asked him if he ever thought of the families of the victims when he agreed to sell the rights for Carr’s book.

“Can’t change the past. I still have to make a living with my family,” Martorano said.

Martorano also talked about the $6,000 he got from the Drug Enforcement Agency to buy things while in prison, as well as the $20,000 that was given to him as “start-up money” upon his release after 12 1/2 years behind bars.

Brennan also asked Martorano about his trips to casinos with another man. Martorano said he goes, but doesn’t gamble.  He leaves that up to his friend, he said.

“He’s  a gambler and I take a piece of what he wins … I pay him if he loses,” Martorano said, adding that he doesn’t gamble because his friend is better at gambling than he is.

Brennan also repeatedly quizzed Martorano on information he gave to authorities but later changed. Martorano originally described mobster Stephen Flemmi as being in the back seat of a car with him while the two shot at someone. Martorano had said he leaned over Flemmi to shoot out the window. However, Martorano later recanted that testimony.

Bulger’s trial resumes Thursday morning.

For updates on the Bulger trial follow Michael Naughton on Twitter @metrobosmike and follow our daily live blog from the courthouse available on Metro.us.


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