Kevin Weeks was eager to cut a deal implicating longtime mentor James 'Whitey' Bulger in murder after the fugitive crime boss hung him out to dry
By Shelley Murphy, Globe Staff, 1/29/2000
Long before South Boston gangster Kevin Weeks turned on his legendary boss,
James "Whitey" Bulger, and led investigators to the bodies of three people
believed killed by Bulger and his associates, Weeks had built a reputation as
a fiercely loyal tough guy who muscled his way into Bulger's inner circle.
He honed his fighting skills early, as a youngster boxing in rings around
the city. After high school, he returned to his alma mater to help keep the
peace during the first turbulent years of busing.
In the fall of 1974, a few months after graduating from South Boston High,
Weeks got a job at his old school as a security aide, charged with breaking up
fights between warring black and white students. By the following winter, he
was working as a bouncer at Triple O's on West Broadway, after a daring leap
over the bar to knock out unruly patrons with a few swift punches convinced
the owner that the kid hired to lug ice was tougher than he looked.
It was that fearlessness, that willingness to jump into the fray, that
endeared Weeks to Bulger and ultimately propelled him to the top of Bulger's
organization. For 20 years, Bulger treated Weeks like a son, grooming him as
So his betrayal is a major coup for investigators, since no one in the
underworld is believed to be closer to Bulger, the notoriously remote crime
boss who put his trust in Weeks.
But after Bulger skipped town in January 1995 to evade a federal
racketeering indictment, Weeks was left to face the wrath of local mobsters
alone, subjected to their taunts when Bulger and his sidekick Stephen "The
Rifleman" Flemmi were outed as longtime FBI informants.
In secretly recorded conversations with Flemmi in 1998, Weeks complained
that local Mafia members were showing up at the Quincy home of his estranged
wife and two teenage sons looking for him. Even in Southie, Weeks complained
that he was branded a "rat," treated like an outcast because of his loyalty to
Bulger, now dubbed "King Rat."
"Well you know how many times I've been beat up out here?"
Weeks asked Flemmi.
"Oh yeah, a lotta times," said Flemmi, talking from the Plymouth jail where
he's being held awaiting trial.
"Oh I've been beat up you know [expletive], told to get outta Southie,"
After it became known that Bulger and Flemmi had fed the FBI information
about members of their own crew, as well as their Mafia rivals, Weeks found
himself constantly looking over his shoulder.
Then, faced with his own federal racketeering indictment in November, the
43-year-old Weeks - with no money for a lawyer - turned on Bulger, who's
traveled around the country for five years with a girlfriend and a seemingly
endless supply of cash.
Like his mentor, Weeks grew up in a South Boston housing project and
established a reputation as a skilled fighter. While Bulger was raised in the
Old Harbor development, Weeks, 27 years Bulger's junior, grew up on the other
side of Old Colony Avenue in the Mary Ellen McCormack development.
Born on March 21, 1956, Weeks was the second youngest of six children,
three girls and three boys - including two Harvard graduates - raised by John
and Peggy Weeks, both now dead.
The day after her son's arrest on Nov. 17, Peggy Weeks died after a lengthy
illness. Her son had to ask a federal magistrate judge for permission to pay
his final respects, which he was allowed to do - handcuffed and escorted by
federal marshals - at the O'Brien Funeral Home. He wasn't allowed to attend
John Weeks, a boxing trainer, had taught all his sons to fight. Kevin
excelled at the sport.
"He was a tough kid growing up, but a real nice kid, a respectful kid, very
quiet, very friendly," said Jay Hurley of South Boston, who has been friends
with Weeks since high school and was an usher at his wedding. "He was a fun
guy to be around and had a good sense of humor."
Said Hurley, business manager of the Ironworkers Union Local 7, "You take
people how you know them and I know him as a decent guy with a lot of
redeeming qualities. He was someone you could count on if you needed a
One of Weeks's sisters, Patricia O'Neill, is a civilian employee for the
Boston Police Department, and a brother, Jack, now a consultant, is a former
political operative who was a senior adviser to the 1988 presidential campaign
of Michael Dukakis.
And, in the sort of coincidence common to insular Southie, one of Weeks's
sisters is married to the brother of Stephen Rakes, whose newly purchased
liquor store Bulger and Flemmi forcibly took over in 1984.
Weeks first crossed paths with Bulger at Triple O's, the tavern run by
Bulger associate Kevin O'Neil. O'Neil, who was indicted along with Weeks in
November, had to be convinced of Weeks's worth when the 18-year-old came
looking for a job as a bouncer just before St. Patrick's Day in 1975.
After taking one look at the 5-foot-10ish, curly-haired teenager, O'Neil
decided he wasn't bouncer material and put him to work lugging ice to
But O'Neil was wrong about Weeks. When a fight broke out that night and
brawny 6-foot-3 bouncers were wrestling with the troublemakers, Weeks jumped
from behind the bar and knocked out several guys with a few punches.
Two of a kind
The brawl marked Weeks's entree into Bulger's inner circle, when O'Neil
offered Weeks a full-time job as a bouncer.
Bulger hung out at Triple O's and often conducted business out of an
upstairs room and soon tapped Weeks to work for him.
By the early 1980s, Weeks had supplanted O'Neil as Bulger's top lieutenant
and closest confidante. Over the years, Weeks managed a number of South Boston
businesses for the Bulger organization, including the D Street deli, the South
Boston Liquor Mart and the Rotary Variety and Video Store.
Bookies, loansharks and drug dealers routinely dropped off "rent" payments
for the Bulger organization at the deli and the variety store, often to Weeks,
insulating Bulger from the transactions.
Aware that they were constantly being targeted by federal, state and local
police, and concerned about "bugs," Bulger and Weeks were guarded when talking
inside or on the telephone.
The pair were often seen walking around Castle Island in South Boston, even
in the dead of winter, or sitting on the bleachers at Columbus Park in the
Weeks, according to a court affidavit, was at Bulger's side during a series
of violent shakedowns throughout the 1980s, in one instance fetching a "body
bag" at Bulger's request while he held a gun to the head of a local realtor.
Proving himself every bit as vicious as the boss, court papers say Weeks
summoned a local bookie to a South Boston home in 1994 and forced him into the
basement, where the floor was covered with plastic, a none-too-subtle signal
that he didn't want blood messing up the floor.
While the bookie sat on a stool in the middle of the room under a glaring
light, a gun-toting Weeks warned him that he'd be killed if he didn't pay him
$50,000. He paid.
"All you ever heard about [Weeks] was that he was enforcing or hunting
people down to settle a score," said a South Boston native. "With him it was
intimidation and muscle."
Still, for many years Weeks shared some of Bulger's mythic status as
protector of the town, one who rooted out troublemakers and kept drugs away.
City Council President James Kelly, a South Boston Democrat, who has known
the Weeks family for years, described Kevin as a sort of youth counselor, the
person adults turned to when their kids - or troublesome neighbors - were
"He had the same reputation as Whitey Bulger, that if you needed someone to
straighten out the teenagers who were causing trouble, he'd talk to them,"
Kelly said he knows people who have gone to Weeks, urging him to talk to
their children because they suspected they were using drugs, drinking, or in
with the wrong crowd.
"Kevin has talked to them and maybe there's been a few he's been able to
influence and get off drugs," Kelly said.
Weeks, an avid athlete, has sponsored sports teams in South Boston and was
active in the South Boston Boys and Girls Club and the South Boston Youth
Hockey League. He's always been involved in sports - playing flag football for
the Old Harbor Athletic Club, skiing, playing hockey, practicing martial arts.
Kelly said he often saw Weeks, the father of two sons, ages 13 and 16, at
the local ice skating rink, at Pop Warner football games, and at various
benefits around Southie.
"In a crowd, he would act like a gentleman," said Kelly.
Indeed, when Southie society turned out at the L Street Tavern for the
black-tie Oscar party to celebrate the nomination of "Good Will Hunting" in
1998, Weeks - a regular at the bar - showed up in a tuxedo, easily mingling
with the revelers.
That's a far different image than the one depicted in the federal
indictment. There, he and Bulger are the neighborhood bullies out to line
their own pockets. Like Bulger, Weeks is accused of making money off drugs by
shaking down drug dealers in South Boston for a percentage of their profits.
And while he may have intervened to help friends and neighbors, some insist
that came at a price.
"If you had a problem, they'd take care of it," said one person familiar
with Weeks and Bulger. "But there was a flip side to that. Either you paid or
you were indebted to them."
Beginning of the end
For five years while Bulger criss-crossed the country, and maybe the
world, Weeks remained loyal, running the organization in his absence and
continuing to take orders from Bulger, who used calling cards to reach him at
the homes and businesses of friends.
While investigators tailed Weeks around the country hoping he'd lead them
to Bulger, he never did. It turns out his road trips had a far less sinister
purpose: Weeks was pursuing his passion for paintball, a fantasy version of
real-life crime. Instead of bullets, participants shoot each other with balls
of paint. Weeks loved it.
While Weeks's betrayal of Bulger may once have been unthinkable, those
familiar with his situation say he felt trapped after his indictment. With no
financial help forthcoming from Bulger's ruined organization, and facing the
prospect of more charges, including murder, that could send him to prison for
life, Weeks was eager to cut a deal.
"Why should he have any loyalty to them?" asked a source familiar with the
investigation. "He knows that Stevie and Whitey were both informants. What if
Whitey gets caught and decides that he's going to roll on everybody? Weeks
learned a ton from Whitey and this is probably the way Whitey would have
This story ran on page B1 of the Boston Globe on 1/29/2000.
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