by J.M. Lawrence
Tuesday, February 12, 2002
A Charlestown ex-con - whose alleged scheme to steal health care drew a federal indictment against the Boston Teamsters - plotted to intimidate Local 25 president George Cashman and tortured a bookie who offended James “Whitey” Bulger, investigators said yesterday.
John “Mick” Murray and his cohorts planned to menace Cashman to force him to let Murray's crew of Charlestown thugs get lucrative Teamsters spots on movie crews filming in New England, according to an agent's affidavit.
“Murray and (cohorts) planned to confront Cashman with a weapon and force Cashman to make changes in the management of the movie crews. Efforts were pursued to further this plan, including watching Cashman's movements and routine,” the DEA agent wrote.
But the plan was dropped when a co-conspirator was arrested in 1998.
“It's the government's position this criminal organization - though now weakened - is still alive and well in Charlestown,” assistant U.S. Attorney Fred Wyshak told a federal magistrate yesterday.
Cashman and other Teamsters' leaders were indicted last month on charges of running a scheme that cost the union thousands in unearned health care paid to unqualified members.
Arguing to keep Murray behind bars, Wyshak said the white-haired laborer also took part in a “heinous extortion” in 1994.
Wyshak said Murray, a convicted bank robber who unloads trucks at the Boston Herald and the Boston Globe, joined Bulger lieutenant Kevin Weeks in hauling a bookie into a Southie basement for a lesson in the consequences of withholding Bulger's “rent.”
The men allegedly outfitted the room for an execution. Plastic covered the floor. Freezers stood nearby and a single stool was placed under a glaring light.
Wearing knuckle-baring gloves and showing off a gun in his waistband, Weeks - who became a government witness in 1999 - berated bookie Kevin Hayes and ordered him to strip in case he was wearing a wire, according to the government. Another man present allegedly insisted Weeks kill Hayes.
Eventually Hayes promised to fork over a $50,000 “fine.” He paid $10,000 in a first installment, the government said, eventually pleading that $1,000-a-week was too much. He then paid Murray monthly, and continued until 1997, the affidavit states.
Murray's attorney, Joseph S. Oteri, denied Murray was a Bulger operative. “Today all someone has to say is that you know Whitey Bulger and you're in trouble,” he said.
The government also contends Murray extorted fellow Teamsters Local 25 member Paul Kupchaunis, a delivery driver, by instructing him to hand over a United Parcel Service master key to cancel a $50,000 contract on his life.
That key allegedly opened up a $1 million theft ring involving mostly high-end electronics.
The government argued Murray's contacts with organized crime in Montreal and the Irish Republican Army make him a flight risk. A pretrial services report recommends releasing him on $10,000 bond. U.S. Magistrate Robert B. Collings did not rule yesterday.
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