(BOSTON) — Confessed hitman John Martorano, who has admitted killing 20 people, told a Boston court Monday that he was testifying against his alleged former mob boss James “Whitey” Bulger because “it broke my heart” to discover Bulger was an FBI informant.
Some of Martorano’s victims were innocent bystanders. One man was mistakenly murdered because he shared the same name as a contracted hit victim.
Now he is a federal witness against Bulger, accused of being the head of the Winter Hill Gang and responsible for 19 murders.
The aging hitman, Martorano, 72, told the court that he was heartbroken when he found out that Bulger and Stephen “The Rifleman” Flemmi were working for the FBI at the same time they allegedly oversaw Boston’s rackets. Martorano testified that he named his youngest son, James Stephen, after his two criminal cohorts.
“They were my partners in crime, my best friends, my children’s godfathers,” Martorano told the Boston court Monday.
“When I heard they were informants, it sort of broke my heart. They broke all trust that we had and loyalties,” Martorano testified, facing Bulger for the first time since the accused Boston mob boss fled Massachusetts 18 years ago after being tipped off about a federal indictment by rogue FBI agent John Connolly.
Martorano also testified against Connolly, who is serving a life sentence.
Martorano’s testimony comes more than a decade after he cut a deal with the government to testify against Bulger. He has been a free man since 2007 and Bulger’s defense attorney J.W. Carney tried to delay the trial by arguing that the hitman has continued his life a crime, a claim that was denied by prosecutors and dismissed by a federal judge.
Still, Carney insists that Martorano — and other government witnesses expected to testify against Bulger — are not credible because they pointed fingers at one another to avoid lengthy prison sentences. Bulger sidekick, Kevin Weeks, and Flemmi are also on the witness list.
Carney had especially harsh words for Martorano calling him “criminal psychopath.”
“He would kill people almost randomly. He would kill people as easily as we would order a cup of coffee… The federal government was so desperate to have John Martorano testify … they basically put their hands up in the air and said take anything you want,” Carney said.
Martorano testified after cross-examination of Boston bookmaker Dick O’Brien, 84, who was one of two bookies who testified that they paid “rent” to Bulger to stay in business. He recounted Bulger telling one bookmaking agent who got out of line that he liked to “kill a**holes like him.” James Katz, 73, also testified that people who didn’t pay Bulger could “wind up in the hospital.”
O’Brien, 84, said he was trained in the business by his father, but when he brought his daughter into the mobbed-up enterprise she had a nervous breakdown and had to be hospitalized.
The breakdown came after Flemmi warned O’Brien what happened to turncoats.
Before he went to the meeting, O’Brien told his daughter to go to the FBI in Miami rather than in Boston because he didn’t trust the agents working in that field office.
“It really upset her. We were very close,” O’Brien said.
Carney asked if he came home after that meeting in Florida, whether he was harmed. O’Brien answered, “By the good graces of John Martorano I wasn’t.”
Bulger, 83, is charged with a 32-count indictment that includes accusations that he committed or ordered 19 murders, including the killings of two women who were romantically involved with his underlings. Bulger’s trial comes 18 years after he disappeared ahead of a federal indictment.
He was arrested in June 2011 at a Santa Monica apartment complex where Bulger and his longtime companion Catherine Greig lived for 16 years as Charlie and Carol Gasko strolling the California coastline and shopping on the Third Avenue Promenade. Carney accused the FBI of “pretending to look for him” during opening arguments last week.
The government called those accusations absurd.
Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio
Yazhou Sun and Sophia Yan, CNN
Elizabeth Cohen and Jamie Gumbrecht, CNN
Samantha Murphy Kelly, CNN