Former hitman set to testify at Whitey Bulger trial - KLFY News 10

Former hitman set to testify at Whitey Bulger trial

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BOSTON A former hitman who admitted killing 20 people is expected to take the stand at the trial of James "Whitey" Bulger to testify against the reputed gangster.

John Martorano served a little over 12 years in prison after striking a cooperation deal with prosecutors. He was released in 2007.

Bulger, the former leader of the Winter Hill Gang, is charged in a 32-count racketeering indictment that accuses him of participating in 19 murders in the 1970s and `80s. He is also charged with extorting bookmakers, drug dealers and others running illegal businesses.

Martorano is one of three former Bulger loyalists who struck deals with prosecutors and agreed to testify against him. Bulger's former partner, Stephen "The Rifleman" Flemmi, and former Bulger lieutenant Kevin Weeks also are expected to be key prosecution witnesses.

Martorano, 72, is expected to testify Monday.

In a 2008 interview with "60 Minutes," Martorano told Steve Kroft that he never kept count of how many people he killed. "Until in the end, I never realized it was that many," he tells Kroft. He said he confessed to 20 in court.

In the 1970s Martorano was partners with the Winter Hill Gang, led by Bulger and Stevie "The Rifleman" Flemmi. Their business: gambling, loan sharking, extortion and murder.

Martorano's specialty was conflict resolution.

"We had a lot of problems with people. And you know, you just killed them before they kill you. It's kill or get killed at times," Martorano explained.

"On one occasion, you walked into a crowded bar . . . and shot somebody. In broad daylight . . . with the policeman across the street," Kroft said.

"Correct," Martorano admitted.

Martorano told Kroft that John Connolly, a corrupt FBI agent who had been one of the top organized crime investigators in Boston, told them that an associate of theirs named John Callahan was about to rat them out on the 1981 murder of Roger Wheeler. In 1982 Callahan became Martorano's 20th victim.

"Do you think that John Connolly knew that you were gonna kill Callahan?" Kroft asks.

"Sure," Martorano says. "He said it, 'We're all going to go to jail the rest of our life if this guy doesn't get killed.'"

"And this an FBI agent telling you this?" Kroft asks.

"This is an FBI agent telling it to Whitey, telling it to me," Martorano says. [In 2008 Connolly was sentenced to 40 years in prison in connection with the Callahan killing.]

In 1995, Martorano learned that Bulger and Flemmi had been top-level FBI informants, snitching on the Italian mafia and on Martorano and other gang members. They had violated his code of loyalty, especially Bulger, he explained to Kroft: "I'll go along with a lot of things, but not -- no Judas, not no informant," Martorano said. "I never informed or ratted on nobody. And if I could've killed him, I would've killed him. But he wasn't there and that's what I think he deserves."

During his opening statement to the jury, Bulger's lawyer, J.W. Carney Jr., raised questions about the credibility of Martorano, Weeks and Flemmi, citing the "extraordinary" plea deals they struck with prosecutors.

"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.

© 2013 CBS Interactive Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report. 

In the 1970s Martorano was partners with the Winter Hill Gang, led by Bulger and Stevie "The Rifleman" Flemmi. Their business: gambling, loan sharking, extortion and murder.

Martorano's specialty was conflict resolution.

"We had a lot of problems with people. And you know, you just killed them before they kill you. It's kill or get killed at times," Martorano explained.

"On one occasion, you walked into a crowded bar . . . and shot somebody. In broad daylight . . . with the policeman across the street," Kroft said.

"Correct," Martorano admitted.

Martorano told Kroft that John Connolly, a corrupt FBI agent who had been one of the top organized crime investigators in Boston, told them that an associate of theirs named John Callahan was about to rat them out on the 1981 murder of Roger Wheeler. In 1982 Callahan became Martorano's 20th victim.

"Do you think that John Connolly knew that you were gonna kill Callahan?" Kroft asks.

"Sure," Martorano says. "He said it, 'We're all going to go to jail the rest of our life if this guy doesn't get killed.'"

"And this an FBI agent telling you this?" Kroft asks.

"This is an FBI agent telling it to Whitey, telling it to me," Martorano says. [In 2008 Connolly was sentenced to 40 years in prison in connection with the Callahan killing.]

In 1995, Martorano learned that Bulger and Flemmi had been top-level FBI informants, snitching on the Italian mafia and on Martorano and other gang members. They had violated his code of loyalty, especially Bulger, he explained to Kroft: "I'll go along with a lot of things, but not -- no Judas, not no informant," Martorano said. "I never informed or ratted on nobody. And if I could've killed him, I would've killed him. But he wasn't there and that's what I think he deserves."

During his opening statement to the jury, Bulger's lawyer, J.W. Carney Jr., raised questions about the credibility of Martorano, Weeks and Flemmi, citing the "extraordinary" plea deals they struck with prosecutors.

"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.

© 2013 CBS Interactive Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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