Kevin Cullen

Sorting out the lowlifes and their misdeeds

Having spent the last few days listening to Stevie Flemmi describe his life of high crimes and misdemeanors alongside one James J., a.k.a. Whitey, Bulger, I have an idea for a new game show.

The Biggest Scumbag.

The idea is pretty simple. Each week, Whitey and Stevie go on camera and talk about some especially vile and vicious thing they did in the 162 combined years of their miserable lives. During many of those years, they were in the service of the FBI as informants.


The audience will be on the edge of their seats every week, as the two old gangsters and sexual predators try to outdo each other with tales of derringers and derring-do.

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Just think of the segues to commercial breaks: “And then I stuck a gun in the guy’s mouth and I asked him to say that again to my face, and, you know, like, well, he couldn’t really say nothin’ because I had the gun in his mouth. So’s I shot him.”

Fade to commercial.

Testimony on Tuesday could have served as a pilot for the show. Whitey’s lawyer, Hank Brennan, was leading Stevie through the sordid murder of Deborah Hussey, the daughter of Stevie’s girlfriend Marion Hussey.

Stevie raised Debbie as if she were his own child. She called him daddy. But when she was a teenager, he began molesting her. Except Stevie doesn’t accept that having a teenage girl perform oral sex on her stepfather constitutes molestation.

“I didn’t molest her,” he said. “It was consensual.”


Now, that answer alone would give Stevie a huge lead in The Biggest Scumbag race. But this is a marathon, not a sprint. Whitey was no slouch himself when it came to having sex with underage girls. When he was on the run, the FBI held a press conference and described Whitey as a sexual predator who had molested girls as young as 12.

I don’t know anything about that, but there was a girl from the projects in Southie who Whitey started “dating.”

Kevin Weeks, Whitey’s protege and gravedigger, told me that the girl was 16 when Whitey started “seeing” her. Stevie said the same thing Tuesday. The more important point is that Whitey was in his 40s.

Whitey used to pick the girl up when she got out of school at Cardinal Cushing High, just a few doors down West Broadway from Triple O’s, the bar where Whitey held court. We all know how well-read Whitey was, be it Machiavelli or Kant, so I’m sure he helped her with her homework.

Neighborhood legend has it that Whitey bought the teen’s mom a new house in City Point, far from the riffraff in the Lower End.


What a guy.

“You want to talk about pedophilia,” Stevie said, motioning toward Whitey at the defense table. “Right over there at that table.”

Actually, pedophiles aren’t attracted to 16-year-old girls. But, like Blutarsky in “Animal House,” who talked about the Germans bombing Pearl Harbor, nobody said anything because Stevie was on a roll.

“He took her to Mexico,” Stevie said. “That’s a violation of the Mann Act.”

The Mann Act, also known as the White Slave Traffic Act (White, not Whitey), was enacted in 1910 to prosecute men for taking girls across state lines for consensual sex.

Unfortunately, Hank Brennan didn’t ask Stevie how he happened to know the particulars of the Mann Act. Inquiring minds want to know.

Johnny Martorano, Whitey’s and Stevie’s favorite murderer, actually outdid them both, beginning a relationship with a 15-year-old who was hanging around the Marshall Street garage in Somerville where all the Winter Hill gangsters congregated. During her testimony, the woman was at pains to point out that she was “almost 16” when she began “dating” Johnny Martorano, 20-something years her senior.

Now, some of you at home are saying, why not have Johnny Martorano also compete for the title of The Biggest Scumbag. But I fear the judges’ heads might explode if we put Johnny in there with Stevie and Whitey. That’s just asking too much.

Stevie also went out of his way to point out that Debra Davis, who he and Whitey allegedly murdered in 1981 and buried on the banks of the Neponset River, was “17 and a half” when he began a relationship with her.

“She was over the legal limit,” Stevie pointed out helpfully.

He did not add that he was twice her age at the time, and for that he lost points.

But Stevie quickly regained those lost points when Hank Brennan asked him if he put his stepdaughter, Debbie Hussey, in an unmarked grave after he and Whitey allegedly murdered her.

“It wouldn’t make sense to mark the grave,” Stevie observed.

Such wisdom, honed by years of venality.

Stevie’s vaunted memory took a hit when he admitted he couldn’t recall the number of teeth he pulled from the head of his murdered stepdaughter.

The truth is, listening to the evidence, it’s impossible to decide who is The Biggest Scumbag.

We can’t flip the switch, or switch the channel, so let’s just flip a coin.

Kevin Cullen is a Globe columnist. He can be reached at Follow him on Twitter @GlobeCullen.