January 15, 2009 | Comments ()

By Dustin Rowles | Trade News | January 15, 2009 |


No lie: This story is 100 percent true. Back in law school, I picked up a part-time job during my second year with an attorney outside of Boston — he’d been working pro-bono on a case for 20 years, and put me to researching it. I think he’d also had designs on a mentee of some sort, and apparently, I fit the bill. Anyway, the case was a mob case — specifically, his client was in prison, so my boss alleged, because one of Whitey Bulger’s henchman had murdered a man and pinned it on this client, who I believe was a low-level dude in Bulger’s Winter Hill Gang. The client had been in prison for years, but in the 80s, Michael Dukakis — when he was governor of Massachusetts — pardoned the client. Still, my boss wanted to clean his record and overturn the conviction — I think my boss saw the potential for a wrongful imprisonment settlement and, perhaps, a book deal.

Anyway, I also thought my boss was completely batshit. He started spinning these yarns about how Whitey Bulger and his gang were in cahoots with the FBI and vice-versa, and that his client got buried under their schemes (he also said to me once, completely seriously: “There are three people in this world you can’t trust, Dustin. Lawyers. Prostitutes. And Reporters.”) Anyway, my boss kept going on and on about how this case was the biggest “miscarriage of justice in the history of jurisprudence” and sent me home with a lot of video tapes, telling me that I’d best not lose them because, he “knows some people.” In short, the dude scared the piss out of me, and I thought that he was completely full of shit. So after a few weeks and about 47 too many conspiracy theories, I got out. I quit.

But then, about a year later, wouldn’t you know: All this stuff starts coming out about Whitey Bulger and his gang’s affiliation with the FBI. And it turned out that — woah! — my boss was absolutely right. All his crackpot theories were true — Whitey Bulger (now on the lam) had been involved with the FBI. They were informing on each other left and right (The Departed shares a lot in common with Whitey Bulger’s case). And get this: Two years ago, my old boss won the biggest wrongful imprisonment award in U.S. history: $101 million. I worked on that case for about 2 months! (The actual murder, as I recall, was committed by Stephen “The Rifleman” Flemmi, who was Bulger’s right hand).

And that, folks, is my ever-so slight brush with the mob. The point: Jim Sheridan (My Left Foot, In America) is developing a movie based on the book, Black Mass: The True Story of the Unholy Alliance between the FBI and the Irish Mob by a couple of Pulitzer Prize winning Boston Globe reporters. The book (and the movie) will track the life of Whitey Bulger, who was raised by a man who would become an FBI Agent (see: The Departed). Bulger built up the Winter Hill Gang, killed a lot of folks, sold a lot of drugs, and sent a lot of guns to the IRA.

It’s a really fascinating story; in fact, Matt Damon and Ben Affleck had a movie based on the book in development a few years ago, but scrapped it because of its similarities to The Departed. Presumably enough time has passed now (and Bulger is still missing) that Sheridan felt the story was ripe for the big screen. And you can’t go wrong with Jim Sheridan, folks. And because Sheridan loves to cast Daniel Day Lewis, I wouldn’t be surprised to see him as Bulger. (And, of course, only in Massachusetts could the most wanted Mob guy in America’s brother, Billy Bulger, be the Senate president for years — the Globe reports that Mark Wahlberg is in the running for the part of Billy.

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My Brush with the Mob

Whitey Bulger Gonna Get Himself a Movie / Dustin Rowles

Trade News | January 15, 2009 | Comments ()



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