US orders lottery to hold Bulger's winnings
Says reputed mobster bought into $14m ticket
to launder cash from illegal gang operations
By Kevin Cullen, Globe Staff, 7/18/1995
Federal authorities yesterday took the unusual step of ordering the
state Lottery Commission to withhold a portion of a $14.3 million jackpot
destined for fugitive mobster James (Whitey) Bulger, charging Bulger used the
winnings as a way to launder money.
"Whitey Bulger never hit the lottery in the first place," said US Attorney
Donald K. Stern. "We allege Bulger cooked up a scheme to launder illegally
An FBI affidavit alleges that Bulger and two associates paid $2 million
cash for one-half share of the winnings of a ticket bought by Michael Linskey
in 1991 at the South Boston Liquor Mart. The cash, federal authorities allege,
came from illegal gambling, extortion and loansharking overseen by Bulger and
Bulger himself kicked in $700,000 to buy one-sixth of the winning ticket,
or $2.3 million in winnings, the FBI charges.
The FBI yesterday served a federal seizure warrant on the Lottery
Commission freezing the payment Bulger was supposed to receive Thursday and
federal officials have filed a forfeiture action to confiscate the $1.9
million left of Bulger's share of the prize, which was being paid out over 20
In federal civil forfeiture cases, the burden rests on the defendant to
show the money was obtained by legal means.
Stern waved off questions about whether the forfeiture suit will aid the
search for the reputed South Boston mobster.
"We didn't bring this case to entice him out of hiding," Stern said.
Bulger has been a fugitive since Jan. 5, when FBI and state police
sought to arrest him as the alleged co-leader of the Winter Hill gang. Alleged
New England Mafia boss Francis P. Salemme is also a fugitive from the charges.
Stephen J. Flemmi, allegedly a gang partner, is in custody.
The forfeiture suit will force Bulger to either appear in court in the
next month or give up his claim to the winnings slated to be paid out through
Stern declined to explain why no one moved earlier on Bulger's winnings.
Bulger had been receiving the $119,000 payments annually since 1991 without a
hitch, Stern acknowledged.
"If we knew where the money was, we could try to seize it," Stern said.
But sources said that accumulating evidence in the racketeering case against
Bulger had opened avenues of information that recently made the forfeiture
Stern said Michael Linskey, Bulger and his reputed underlings in the
Winter Hill gang -- Patrick Linskey, brother of the ticket buyer, and Kevin
Weeks -- signed a notarized statement saying they had an advance agreement to
split the win.
But Stern said the arrangement was made after Linskey won and that it was
merely a smokescreen to derive a 20-year "legitimate income stream" for
South Boston Savings Bank divided the check to Linskey among the four
winners, and the Lottery distributed the tax burden among the "partners." The
manner of handling the funds at the bank was set up as part of the money-
laundering scheme, FBI Special Agent John E. Gamel said in the affidavit.
The Lottery is cooperating in the investigation and the bank's role in the
alleged money-laundering is believed to be unwitting, sources said.
There is no allegation in the suit that the lottery win was rigged.
A bank spokesman, Richard Nicolezzo, said bank authorities could not
Deirdre Coyle, spokeswoman for the Lottery, said the Lottery had been
alerted late last week that the forfeiture suit and seizure warrant were being
Usually, the Lottery pays no attention to sharing agreements among
winners, she said. But now, the Lottery will withhold Bulger's share and turn
it over to US marshals. The rest of the winnings will be distributed as in the
Gamel said in the affidavit he contacted Michael Linskey last month about
the winnings and was surprised to find him receptive.
Linskey indicated he had been "expecting us for years," Gamel said in the
affidavit. Linskey's lawyer, Daniel J. Rull 3d, did not return a reporter's
This story ran on page 1 of the Boston Globe on 7/18/1995.
© Copyright 1995 Globe Newspaper Company.