BOSTON — Another victim who narrowly escaped death when, federal prosecutors claim, James “Whitey” Bulger’s gang mistook him for their target in an assassination attempt told the jury in Bulger’s racketeering trial Friday that he is still carrying lead in his back from the attack.
Frank Capizzi, 79, a Boston native who fled the city after the attack 40 years ago, struggled at times to answer questions. He sounded as if he remains distraught over the attack. And he said he suffers “audio interruption,” a disorder requires him to reflect before answering questions “because some words come over in the Sicilian language. Some in English.”
Capizzi testified for the government Friday at Bulger’s racketeering trial and was granted immunity in case he had to admit any old crimes. Early in his testimony, he admitted that he was a bookmaker beginning in the late 1960s, but left the business on March 19, 1973.
That was the night, he said, that he was having a couple of drinks in a downtown bar on Atlantic Avenue with two other men he said he hardly knew, Hugh Shields and Al “Buddy” Plummer. At around 10 p.m., he said, Plummer and Shields offered him a ride to visit his 88-year old grandmother.
“So you got into a car with Shields and Plummer,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Zachary Hafer asked.
“Excuse me,” he said. “I was just deciphering what you were saying. We were driving toward the North End, toward Hanover Street.”
“Did something unusual happen when you were in the car with Bud Plummer,” Hafer asked
Capizzi, who wears his hair in a bushy white phony tail, snapped back in the witness box with a stunned expression.
“Unusual?” he fired back. “A firing squad hit us.”
“For two and a half minutes maybe, a hundred slugs hit the automobile and it imploded,” he said, “I was in behind the driver. Bud Plummer was driving. Hugh Shields was in front. It seemed like maybe a day and a half, but it was probably only a couple of minutes.”
Capizzi said Shields and Plummer were killed. He said one of them had his head blown off. But he said he couldn’t tell who was firing at him or how many there were.
“When you get hit in the head and hit in the back you don’t see anything,” he said.
He said he was taken to the hospital, but doesn’t remember it. He said he was “embedded with bullets, shot gun pellets and fragments of glass and metal.”
He said he underwent a four-hour operation. Afterward, he said, he learned the surgeons removed 11 bullets from his body, one of which he said was millimeters from the back of his heart. He said they left about 18 or 19 pieces of metal in him and he still carries it around.
Capizzi said he had become partners in his bookmaking business with a man described by other witnesses as an erratic young hoodlum named Alfred “Indian Al” Notarangeli. Local mafia boss Gennaro Angiulo believed Notarangeli was extorting business from his network of bookmakers and had arrange to have Bulger’s Winter Hill Gang kill him, according to another witness.
Bulger partner and confessed 20-time murder John Martorano testified earler that the Winter Hill Gang failed in three attempts to kill Notarangeli, before finally succeeding during fourth. On two occasions, Notarangeli wasn’t even in the car the gang had arranged to ambush, according to evidence presented so far at the trial.
Martorano admitted he was firing the machine gun the night Capizzi was hit.
“Did you leave the city of Boston when you were discharged from the hospital?” Hafer asked.
Capizzi answered yes and said he never returned.
He was one of several witnesses who told of surviving or losing relatives to attacks that federal prosecutors charge were mounted by Bulger and other members of his Winter Hill Gang. Bulger is accused of participating in the attack that wounded Capizzi.
Bulger is being tried on a broad racketeering indictment that accuses him of participating in 19 murders, including those of Plummer and Shields, as well as money laundering, gambling, extortion and weapons offenses.
Prosecutors introduced FBI records into the trial record as evidence Friday, in preparation for witnesses who are expected to begin testifying Monday that Bulger used information provided to him by a corrupt FBI agent to kill an informant who had tied Bulger, Martorano and others in the gang to an attempt to take over the World Jai Alai company, a pari-mutual gambling company that operated in Florida and Connecticut in the 1980s.
Distributed by MCT Information Services