• Witness describes machine gun ordeal at Bulger hangout


    BOSTON (MyFoxBoston.com) – The former business partner of John Callahan said James "Whitey" Bulger pointed a machine gun at his groin and demanded $400,000 during a harrowing ordeal at Triple O's lounge after Callahan's death.

    Michael Solimando was called to the stand on Tuesday. He testified that he met Stephen Flemmi, Edward "Brian" Halloran and John Callahan through his sister's friend, James Martorano.

    Solimando said it was Callahan that he developed a friendship with, eventually becoming business partners with him on a building investment in Boston.

    Shortly after Brian Halloran's death in 1982, he said his normally gregarious friend became sullen and withdrawn. At one point, Solimando testified that Callahan cryptically told him: "Whitey and Stevie don't think I'm going to stand up."

    Solimando said the last time he ever saw Callahan alive was as he backed out of a planned trip to Cape Cod, saying Callahan told him he had to go to Florida to pick up a car. Shortly after, Callahan was found shot to death in a car in Miami.

    It was after Callahan's death that Solimando said Flemmi pulled him into a meeting at Triple O's with Bulger and Kevin Weeks.

    Solimando described going upstairs in the club to an auditorium-like room with all the shades drawn, the only light coming in through the sides of the blinds. It was there that he said Bulger put a gun in his face and demanded money.

    Bulger told Solimando that Callahan had invested $400,000 in the business property at 126 High Street in Boston and he wanted the money. Solimando said he had no idea Callahan was associated with Bulger.

    Solimando said that when he told Bulger he didn't know what he was talking about, Kevin Weeks handed Whitey a machine gun. From there, Bulger stuck the gun in Solimando's groin, again demanding money and telling him if he went to the FBI or police, that he'd be killed.

    "We'll know the minute you open your mouth," Solimando recalled Bulger saying. "We'll get a hat, put three names in it, pull one and kill whoever comes up. Then the other two will pay."

    After he was let go, Solimando testified that he thought he could go to a friend in the FBI for help, but later decided there were "too many people dead in Boston." Instead, he decided to meet Bulger with a $20,000 payment and real estate records to prove that Callahan didn't have that much money invested in the High Street property.

    Solimando said Bulger, Flemmi and Weeks dismissed the records and continued to demand the full $400,000.

    Eventually, he was able to get access to $215,000 from a bank account Callahan kept in Switzerland, but paid the remaining balance himself.

    Solimando said the two choices he had were to pay Bulger or be killed.

    While on the stand, Solimando said he was told to blame Arthur "Bucky" Barrett during grand jury testimony in the death of Callahan.

    "I was afraid. I was doing it to protect myself, my family," said Solimando. "I was afraid of Mr. Bulger and Mr. Flemmi."

    Flemmi is expected to testify in the case on Thursday. He is currently serving a life sentence for 10 murders, including his role in the death of his former girlfriend, Debra Davis.

    Next Up: