A man who was so close to accused Boston mobster James "Whitey" Bulger that he was considered to be a surrogate son testified today that he helped Bulger kill a man who had offered to inform on Bulger.
"I was with him for 20 years,'' Kevin Weeks told the court referring to Bulger.
The South Boston man is considered a critical witness for the government in Bulger's trial on a string of federal crimes including 19 murders. One of the murders was killing of Brian "Balloonhead" Halloran who was allegedly targeted by Bulger because Halloran had gone to the FBI with an offer to cooperate.
Weeks said he initially acted as Bulger's driver and errand boy. But then Bulger asked Weeks to participate in the murder of Halloran, who was shot dead along with his neighbor Michael Donahue in 1982.
Weeks described the hit on the stand, testifying that he sat outside a bar and watched Halloran through binoculars. When Halloran got up to leave, Weeks radioed "Jim Bulger" telling him: "The Balloon is rising. The Balloon is rising."
Weeks told the court that when Halloran climbed into a blue Datsun driven by his neighbor Donahue, he radioed Bulger again.
"When he came outside I said 'The Balloon is in the air,''' Weeks told the court. He said that Bulger and another gunman then drove up beside the Datsun.
"Jim Bulger yelled 'Brian!' and when he (Halloran) turned around, Jim started firing,'' Weeks testified.
"Jim Bulger made a U-turn, came back around and Brian Halloran and exited the vehicle. He was still alive," Weeks recalled on the stand. "As he walked toward the rear of the vehicle, Jim Bulger just started shooting right at him."
Donahue was dead behind the wheel and the car drifted into a building.
Bulger went to the home of one of his girlfriends, Theresa Stanley, "to eat something," Weeks said. Later that same night Weeks and Bulger went back to the murder scene to retrieve a hubcap that had flown off "the hit car," he told the court.
Halloran died, Weeks told the court, because the FBI had told Bulger he was cooperating.
Weeks also set the record straight on the stand about the takeover of a liquor store that became Bulger's Winter Hill Gang headquarters in South Boston.
Street lore had always been that Bulger extorted the store from a man named Stephen "Stippo" Rakes by threatening the man's little girl, which Weeks denied on the stand.
"The worst rumor was that we stuck a gun in his daughter's mouth,'' Weeks told the court.
What really happened, according to Weeks, is that Rakes had made a deal with Bulger to sell the store for $100,000. But when Weeks and Bulger went to Rakes' home to drop off a paper bag stuffed with cash, Rakes had changed his mind about the price. As the men discussed business, one of Rakes' daughters played with Bulger.
"Jim Bulger was bouncing her on his lap. A beautiful little girl,'' Weeks recalled on the stand.
Weeks, however, had become enraged, he remembered.
"He was trying to shake us down. He wanted more money from us. It wasn't going to happen,'' Weeks told the court.
"I pulled out my gun and put it on the table,'' Weeks said. "The little girl on Jim's lap reached for the gun. Jim Bulger told me to put it away so I put it away."
After that, Rakes took the $100,000, Weeks told the court, and the Rotary Liquor Store belonged to them.
"Jim Bulger thought it would be a good source of legitimate income,'' Weeks told the court.