BOSTON (AP) — A real estate developer yesterday described a harrowing encounter with James "Whitey" Bulger, recounting how the reputed gangster shoved a shotgun in his mouth and threatened to kill him and his family if he did not pay $200,000.
Richard Buccheri described the 1986 meeting while testifying in the racketeering trial of Bulger, who is charged with participating in 19 killings during the 1970s and '80s, as well as numerous extortions while he allegedly led the Winter Hill Gang.
Buccheri, 73, elicited gasps from spectators in the packed courtroom as he relayed how Bulger first slammed his hand on a table in anger, then threatened him with two different guns.
Buccheri said he was summoned to meet with Bulger after he gave advice to a neighbor who was involved in a dispute over the property line between his property and another neighbor's property. He learned later that Kevin Weeks, one of Bulger's close associates, was in the process of buying one of the properties.
Buccheri said that when he walked into the meeting, Bulger was sitting at a table.
"We sat down and Mr. Bulger says to me, he says, 'You know, Rich, sometimes you could keep your mouth shut,'" Buccheri said.
He said Bulger then pounded the table with his hand and said, "Do you know that Kevin Weeks is my surrogate son?"
"With that, he takes the shotgun that was on the table — he sticks it in my mouth," Buccheri said.
He said Bulger then told him he was not going to kill him then, but said, "It's going to cost you."
When Bulger told him he would have to pay him $200,000, Buccheri said he expressed surprise. He said Bulger then put a .45-caliber handgun to his head and said, "If you don't pay me in 30 days, I'm going to kill you and your family."