James ‘Whitey’ Bulger was captured by the FBI on June 22nd 2011 in Santa Monica. The alleged Boston crime boss had been second on the FBI’s most wanted list behind Osama Bin Laden.
He was wanted for racketeering, conspiracy to commit murder, extortion, money laundering, narcotics distribution and nineteen murders.
Whitey’s younger brother William had led a different path. He had been the president of the Massachusetts senate for seventeen years – one of the most powerful positions in the state and was a former president of the University of Massachusetts.
In ‘Logan Way – the story of the Bulgers’- William Bulger in one of his first interviews since a CBS 60 minutes in 1992 and for the first time following the arrest of his brother talks to ‘Documentary on One’ about his political career, his brother ‘Whitey’ and why he won’t disown him.
The Story - In 1936 – under ‘the new deal’ of the recently elected Franklin D Roosevelt the American government built its first ever public housing scheme in South Boston called ‘Logan Way’.
The Housing scheme became a first proper home for a large section of the Irish population. One of the first families to move in was a second generation Irish family called the Bulgers.
James and Jane Bulger moved in their new home with their four daughters and three sons.
Two of the boys, William and James from this humble beginning were to lead two very differing lives.
William successfully matriculated High school and then served in the Korean war and with a taste for the classics and a keen eye on education and the aid of the GI Bill he became an attorney and then successfully ran for the Massachusetts senate.
William became the longest serving member and then leader of the Massachusetts’s senate and ‘kingmaker’ in Democratic circles for the likes of Ted Kennedy and John Kerry delivering the sizable South Boston vote. He was on first name terms with a number of American presidents from John F Kennedy to Bill Clinton.
He earned a reputation for deal making and was ‘known for banging heads together’ and won his South Boston district every two years from 1964 to 1994, earning the record of never being defeated in an election.
William’s older brother James ‘Whitey’ Bulger became notorious for other reasons. He was head of the Winter Hill Crime Gang in South Boston and is accused of nineteen murders. He served time Alcatraz and was the basis of the Jack Nicholson’s character of ‘Frank Costigan’ in the Oscar winning film ‘The Departed.’
In August 1999, following a tip off from a rogue FBI officer – Bulger went on the run and was added to the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s (FBI) most wanted fugitive list.
He was wanted for racketeering, murder, conspiracy to commit murder, extortion, money laundering and narcotics distribution. In October 2007, Interpol issued a ‘red notice’ for Bulger.
Following a 16-year man hunt, James Whitey Bulger was captured on June 22nd 2011. It made headlines all across the globe.
William Bulger is extremely reticent in dealing with journalists, never doing interviews and his last major one was with CBS’s 60 minutes - was as far back as 1992. He has not spoken since his brother’s arrest.
Producer: Ciaran Cassidy.
First broadcast on RTÉ Radio 1 on Saturday 20th August 2011 @ 1pm
An Irish radio documentary from RTÉ Radio 1, Ireland - Documentary on One - the multi award winning home of Irish radio documentaries.