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State police investigator testifies in Bulger trial

Top state police investigators testified how Bulger's gang allegedly used violence to make money.

Whitey Bulger Whitey Bulger
Credit: Hand out

Alleged mob boss James "Whitey" Bulger violently ran his gang and would beat or even kill bookies or drug dealers that failed to pay them," two leading organized crime investigators on the Massachusetts State Police recounted during their testimony Thursday.

Retired state police investigators Robert Long and Thomas Foley testified Thursday as the government's first two witnesses against Bulger.

Foley talked about how, before he became colonel of the state police, he ran the agency's special services unit investigating organized crime. He said the unit had informants giving investigators information on the activities of Bulger.

He identified the Winter Hill Gang and the La Cosa Nostra, or the Italian mafia, as the two main organized crime groups in Boston in the 1980s and 1990s. Foley identified Bulger and his associate Stephen Flemmi as the leaders of the Winter Hill Gang once the other heads became fugitives.

Foley said the crime groups made their money mostly through bookmakers and drug dealers who were forced to pay "rent" or "tributes," which were fees for operating in a certain area.

When asked by Assistant US Attorney Fred Wyshak what happened if the bookies or drug dealers didn't pay, Foley said the group turned violent.

"A beating or sometimes people were killed," Foley said.

The government introduced dozens of pictures of guns, ammunition and other items recovered by investigators once Bulger's associates began cooperating with authorities.

Among those items were a sawed-off shotgun, double-edged knifes and a Boston police officer's badge found inside a safe.

However, during cross-examination by Bulger lawyer Hank Brennan, Foley said no guns, masks or other items were found in Bulger's home.

For updates on the Bulger trial follow Michael Naughton on Twitter @metrobosmike.

 
 
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