Ex-girlfriend tells of confronting Flemmi

Hussey testifies in FBI civil case

By Jonathan Saltzman
Globe Staff / July 21, 2009

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A former girlfriend of gangster Stephen “The Rifleman’’ Flemmi testified tearfully yesterday that she accused him in 1986 of murdering her daughter but did not know for sure that Deborah Hussey was dead and that the mobster had participated in the slaying until 14 years later.

Testifying in a wrongful-death lawsuit that blames the FBI for the slaying because Flemmi was a protected informant, Marion A. Hussey said she confronted him outside a hospital where their son had been taken after a car accident. Hussey, 69, of Weymouth, had three children with Flemmi, whom she never married. Her daughter, Deborah Hussey, was from a marriage that had ended in divorce.

Marion Hussey said she had not heard from Deborah in two years and feared that Flemmi had something to do with the 26-year-old’s disappearance. The young woman had told her mother in 1984 that Flemmi had molested her for years. Deborah Hussey also caused tension in the couple’s Milton home because she abused drugs, engaged in prostitution, and robbed bookmakers, her mother said.

“I said to him, ‘You killed my daughter,’ ’’ Marion Hussey recalled, referring to the confrontation outside the hospital. “He was taken aback. He was in shock. He grabbed a pole. His knees bent.’’

Hussey’s lawyer, Ann M. Donovan, of Newton, asked her whether Flemmi denied killing her daughter. “I don’t remember what his exact words were,’’ Hussey replied.

Flemmi, who is serving a life sentence for 10 murders, testified previously during the trial at US District Court in Boston that Deborah Hussey was among two women he lured to homes in South Boston on separate occasions in the 1980s. Both times, the 75-year-old gangster said, he silently watched as his partner James “Whitey’’ Bulger quietly emerged from a back room and strangled them.

Deborah Hussey’s body was unearthed in 2000 from a Dorchester grave, 15 years after her murder.

Her family is among three suing the federal government in the civil wrongful-death trial. The others are relatives of Flemmi’s onetime girlfriend Debra Davis, who was allegedly strangled by Bulger in 1981 at age 26, and relatives of Louis Litif, a South Boston bar owner and bookmaker who was shot to death in 1980.

The families are seeking unspecified damages for the victims’ pain and suffering and the families’ loss of financial and emotional support. US District Court Judge William G. Young is presiding over the nonjury trial.

The plaintiffs contend that the FBI created a dangerous condition by failing to control Bulger and Flemmi, both of whom were FBI informants. The informants reported to John J. Connolly Jr., a corrupt agent who was sentenced to 40 years in prison in January for leaking information to Bulger and Flemmi that led to the killing of a Boston businessman in Florida in 1982. Bulger, 79, is wanted for 19 killings and has been a fugitive since 1995.

The Justice Department counters it had no idea that Bulger and Flemmi planned to kill the three victims. One of the Justice Department lawyers said during his opening statement that Marion Hussey lived on “blood money’’ from Flemmi for years and cannot blame the FBI for her daughter’s murder.

Jonathan Saltzman can be reached at