Biography

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“In Life Integrity is Everything” – John Red Shea

John “Red” Shea (b. August 12, 1965) was an Irish-American mobster from Boston involved in narcotics and an associate of crime kingpin Whitey Bulger and the Winter Hill Gang during the 1980s and 90s.

 

Childhood

Shea was born in Boston City Hospital and lived in a small two bedroom apartment in a three family wooden row house on I Street in South Boston. In this home, he lived with his mother Mabel and his three older sisters Paula, Claire and Maureen. His father was Al Shea, an alcoholic Irishman who fixed television sets for a living. When Shea was nine, his father died of cirrhosis of the liver although Shea said it didn’t matter much because “he was already gone from my life and now he was gone from his life”.

Shea grew up on the mean streets of South Boston; at the age of five he was beaten by two older children, spit on and left in a gutter. He went home bleeding to his older sister Paula who attacked the two older kids with a coat rack, as the other child ran away. After this, Shea’s sister Paula talked Shea’s mother Mabel into enrolling Shea into a gym to begin a career as a boxer, which became the young man’s major passion. At a young age Shea began boxing as the protégé of Tommy Connors, then twelve years old. At the age of six, he had his first competition in the Baby Golden Gloves. Shea soon became Connors’ star pupil and Connors became the closest thing Shea ever had to a father figure. Shea won the Junior Olympic Shampionship for the first time when he was fourteen, which he would go on to win three times in total. He compiled a record of sixty wins and six loses.

Shea attended high school in Roxbury, a heavily black area, as part of Boston’s “busing” program. Racial tensions led to an incident in which Shea and a few other Irish-American students assaulted some black students in the vacant auditorium. Eventually Shea dropped out of school, got a G.E.D., continued his boxing career, and started his life of crime on the streets of Southie.

Crime & Boxing

Shea began his life of crime by comitting low-level street crime with his childhood friends Johnny Baldwin, Billy Mahoney and Ray Talent. On the day of his sister Paula’s wedding, which Shea begged his mother to not make him go, Shea’s friends and partner Johnny Baldwin, and a few other friends Bobby McCormick, Billy Welch and Keith Miller all got drunk and began to drive to a fight with kids from the Point. Their car struck a transit bus and all of Shea’s friends were killed.

Shea’s first arrest came on his mother’s birthday in 1980, after he allegedly assaulted his sister Claire. Shea was saved by his sister Paula who testified that Shea’s niece Erin, Claire’s daughter, told her that “Uncle Jay didn’t do it, my mommy’s making me say it.” In the end, Shea was given a two and a half year suspended sentence.

Not long thereafter Shea became involved with the Winter Hill Gang via a drug dealer by the name of Paul “Pole Cat” Moore. Moore brought Shea around to all the bars that were connected to members of the Winter Hill Gang in Southie and taught him how to deal drugs. Although now Shea was entrenching himself in the street life, he continued his dreams of boxing. Shea wound up working with a famous boxing trainer by the name of Eddie Flynn, who changed Shea’s ring name from John Shea to Sean O’Shea, to make him sound more ethnically Irish. Shea decided that Flynn would ruin his career, so he left his working venture with Eddie Flynn and called up a young lawyer by the name of Tony Cardinale who was born and raised in Hell’s Kitchen, and would go on to be on the lawyer team for John “Johnny Boy” Gotti, Jr., Gennaro “Jerry” Angiulo, Anthony “Fat Tony” Salerno and Francis “Cadillac Frank” Salemme. Tony Cardinale’s brother Dennis began working with Shea and brought him back to California were Shea had his first bout against a Mexican fighter that Shea would win a $500 purse and gain his first victory. After losing his second bout, Shea returned to Southie and the drug dealing business with Paul Moore.

Going Out on His Own

Shea wound up moving into Moore’s apartment and they moved most of their product out of the bar next to Moore’s apartment, Triple O’s, which in name belonged to Winter Hill Gang Lieutenant Kevin “Turtleneck Pants” O’Neil, but was really owned by James “Whitey” Bulger. Bar bouncer Kevin “Two” Weekswas also a member of the Winter Hill Gang and would become one of Whitey’s two protégés. Shea’s apprenticeship with Moore would be short lived; he soon began selling ounces of his own. His operation increased in scale and eventually he began travelling to the Florida Keys to pick up large quantities of cocaine from Cuban and Colombian drug dealers. Eventually Shea’s trade was noticed by Whitey Bulger

Hooking Up With The Winter Hill Gang & Penelope

Threatened with violent reprisal unless he entered the Bulger organization, Shea began working as a Soldier in the drug crew led by a Lieutenant known as “Mickey O.” After a while other dealers that were apart of Mickey O’s crew, including Shea’s original partner Paul “Pole Cat” Moore, began to realize that they were being kept out of the loop and shorted of product by “Mickey O.” Shea raised the issue with Whitey Bulger, who forced Mickey into retirement and drove him out of Southie forever.

Around the same time that Shea was being recruited into Whitey’s organization, he fell in love with a woman by the name of Penelope who had olive skin, big brown eyes, brown hair, full lips and a nice body. She was of Italian heritage. Shea soon thereafter became very serious with Penelope and the two young love birds were quickly falling in love with one another, after Shea bought Penelope a pair of diamond earrings, Penelope’s mother did some research on Mr. John “Red” Shea, and asked Penelope to meet this Irish boy from Southie. Upon meeting Penelope’s mother Shea was confronted with the fact that people in the neighbourhood had told her that Shea was a part of Whitey Bulger’s Irish Mafia and was a big time coke dealer. Shea denied both claims, he even denied the existence of Bulger’s Irish Mob. When Penelope’s mother asked Shea to promise that if he went to prison he would walk away from Penelope, Shea told her that he couldn’t promise that. Shea would later wind up proposing to Penelope, but, the wedding never took place. Shea stated that he could not bring a wife and children into the life he chose, he said he took Whitey’s advice on family and ran with it.

The Young Lieutenant

Not long after the banishment of “Mickey O”, Whitey knows who he wants to put in Mickey’s place as Lieutenant and Boss of the Winter Hill Gang’s drug operation. None other than John “Red” Shea. To organized a test for Shea, Kevin “Two” Weeks shakes down one of the drug dealers that Shea was being paid to protect. Shortly thereafter Shea flipped out at Kevin Weeks and threatened his life. Not long after Weeks gives Shea a call and says that Whitey wants to talk to him at the South Boston Liquor Mart. When Shea arrives he is led to the basement by Weeks, Weeks stands up against the wall and tries to cock back his Uzi submachine gun but can’t quite cock it back, then from the shadow’s Shea sees Whitey Bulger emerged with an Uzi of his own in his hand. Whitey then tells Shea that Shea’s “father figure” Tommy Connors is in trouble and has some heavy debts to Whitey that he has yet to pay. Whitey tells Shea that because Shea is close to Connors Whitey wants to know were Connors hides his money. Shea then replies “Pull the trigger, if you’re taking from him…than you’re taking from me.”, now that’s a ballsy move. Whitey then cocked back his Uzi and pointed it at Shea, seconds passed. Whitey lifts up the Uzi and uncocks it and tells Shea that it was all a test, a test that Shea passed. Whitey told Shea “You got fucking big balls. You’re loyal. You’re one loyal fucking guy. Now you’re with me”. The next day at twenty years old Shea became a Lieutenant in the Winter Hill Irish Mob and the Boss of Bulger’s Drug Operation, making him have a large amount of heat on him, but he also controlled the Mob’s most lucrative racket.

With his new rank and power Shea now has a very sizeable crew working for him including the MacKenzie brothers, Ronnie and Eddie, Paul “Pole Cat” Moore, Tommy Cahill and many others. But, all was not well, after Shea was given his new seat of power, Shea began to realize that there were many drug dealers in Boston, his turf, that were independent, as he was when he first started his operation. Shea decided that he had to force them to work for him. Shea’s policy was for dealing on his turf with a different product you would pay him back the money that your product would have cost, had you bought it from him, and then you would be stuck buying their product and only their product. An example of this policy was when Shea caught a dealer selling coke in Connolly’s Cafe, a dealer that was not buying from one of his guys or selling for one of his guys. Shea went absolutely crazy and dragged him into the back room, screaming “You motherfucker, I’ll rip your fucking eyes out of your head! You don’t sell in this fucking bar again unless you deal with me. Now you’re going to have to pay me back for selling in here, and you only buy the product off me!”, the dealer was almost in tears, he pleaded with Shea and said that he would buy the product off of him but didn’t have the money to pay Shea back. Shea then pistol whipped the dealer with a .38 revolver and put the barrel of the gun to the middle of the dealer’s forehead. One of Shea’s guys by the name of Jackie Mackie grabbed Shea and got him off of the dealer. The guy came up with the money the next day and from there on out only bought his product from Shea or one of Shea’s distributors.

After a while Shea makes Tommy Cahill his personal driver and pays him seven thousand for every trip that Cahill takes with him down to Florida. But, Shea grew tired of Jerry or as he called him “My Tony Montana Connection”, because of his flashy and wild ways. He moved on and began purchasing his product from the man who supplied Jerry, Jesus Nodarse. One summer day Shea and Cahill arrive for another pick up from Nodarse, but, Nodarse is dry so Nodarse decides that he will bring Shea and Cahill to one of Nodarse’s connects to pick up the product. All three men pile into Shea and Cahill’s rented Nissan and pull out of Nodarse’s driveway, just a couple of blocks down a pick up truck pulls up in front of their car and stops, then another car pulls up from behind them with flashing blue lights, it was the police…or so they thought. Instead it wound up being a couple of Cuban who took Shea and Cahill’s rented Nissan, Shea’s gun that was inside the car and $200,000. Shea then began to threaten Nodarse with death and Nodarse began to make phone calls trying to get the money, car and gun back in order to save his life. After a while Shea and Cahill both realize that Nodarse was telling the truth, and he really did have nothing to do with it. In the end Shea took Nodarse’s four kilos of cocaine that he had and went on his way back to Southie. He was able to make the money that had been taken from him back, after stepping on the product many more times than he should have.

Can The Youngster Stand the Heat?

Not long thereafter things began to heat up in Southie, it was clear that Shea and his main associates were under investigation. A Boston Detective by the name of Beers had been following Shea around with a D.E.A. Agent. They wanted to bust Shea. One afternoon Shea receive a phone call and was told that the D.E.A and the Boston Police were raiding the South Boston Liquor Mart and the Rotary Variety, both owned by James “Whitey” Bulger. Shea drove by and saw that the two shops were actually being raided, so Shea decided to get off of the streets. He went and worked out for a while, he said it helped to pump some iron, get the heart rate up, sweat and sweat and clear my head. Later that night as Shea returned to his apartment Detective Beers and about twenty other cops and agents apprehended Shea and served him with a search warrant for his premises. When Beers approached him Shea told him to get back and asked “Who wants to get it first?!”, a F.B.I. Agent came up from behind him and Shea kicked him in the gut, a move Shea would later regret. Shea was placed under arrest for Assault and Batter of a Federal Officer. The next at the federal court buildings Tony Cardinale is waiting for Shea. Cardinale notifies Red that he has only been charged with the assault and battery charge, but they also found a few pounds of marijuana, a .357 snub-nose shotgun and ammunition in his apartment, but for the time being the charges were not pressed against him. Cardinale did give Shea some good news, the charges were not going to stick. The charges were later dropped and Shea walked away scott free, but, the twenty-four year old did get all the bad press that comes along with a mobsters arrest.

 

The Indictment

After the assault and battery charge, Shea sensed that something bad was about to happen. To him it was like a cat and mouse game, he slowed down the business, got out of town as often as possible to make it seem as though he had nothing to do with any criminal activities in Southie. He remembered being tailed by agents when he was leaving his apartment, he was followed all around, so, instead of driving, Shea decided to walk everyone…making it a little hard for the feds to follow him without him realizing it. On August 8th, 1990, Shea was walking down to the D Street Deli to meet with Paul Moore and Kevin Weeks when he noticed a Detective by the name of Duwan pass by him slowly while he was walking down Columbia Road, about a block and a half ahead Duwan pulled over, Sheak new what was going on. Shea turned around and ran to George “Georgie Boy” Hogan’s house, who was one of Shea’s men who after Shea went away would become the Lieutenant of Shea’s crew and after Weeks went away would become the Boss. George’s son Michael, another guy in Shea’s crew, was on the porch, Shea says “Mike, watch this. Any minute an agent is gonna come around that corner.”. Michael tells Shea that the feds just hit the D Street Deli, where his father is. Around the corner comes Duwan, so he ran again until Duwan caught up to him. Duwan gets out of his car with his gun drawn and a shakey hand, he tells Shea to cuff himself which Shea refuses to do, back up comes and Shea is apprehended. When he was apprehended he was spoken to by five different D.E.A. Agents who wanted dirt on Jesus Nodarse, Steven Flemmi, Whitey Bulger, Kevin Weeks, Kevin O’Neil and others. He told one agent, just inches away from his face, while handcuffed “I am no fucking rat. You got that. There is nothing worse than life, is there? So go fuck yourself. The fucking games are over. It is finished. You got it. Put me back in my cell.”, this is where the interrogations ended.

The next day Shea was on the front page of the news they rounded up 51 mobsters in total in what the papers called “a sweeping blow to the criminal organization of reputed underworlf figure James J. (Whitey) Bulger”. The charges ranged from distributing cocaine up to conspiring to operate a criminal narcotics enterprise. Shea was at the top of the list and the list read as is

John “Red” Shea, 24

John “Jackie” Mack, 42

Walter Bagley, 38

Thomas “Tommy” Cahill, 42

George “Georgie Boy” Hogan, 44

Tommy Connors, 44

William “Billy” McCarthy, 26

Paul “Pole Cat” Moore, 40

John “Jackie” Cherry, 39

Kevin “Andre the Giant” MacDonald, 33

Edward “Eddie Mac” MacKenzie, Jr., 22

Louis “Louie” Sasso, 40

Jesus Nodarse, 50
There were also others, but, these were the main players in the indictment. Shea, John “Jackie” Mack, Paul “Pole Cat” Moore and John “Jackie” Cherry were all charged with Operating a Continuing Criminal Enterprise through their Narcotics Business, an offence that carries a twenty years to life sentence…the R.I.C.O. Act. After the indictment was read and all of the defendants plead not guilty, Shea faced the reality that no bail was to be set for him, he was than transported to the closest federal prison, he took a three-hour trip by bus to Danbury, Connecticut. All of the men were put in the hole. In his second day in the hole Shea turned 25, Paul Moore, Eddi MacKenzie, Tommy Cahill, Louie Sasso and Walter Bagley(who were all with him) sung Shea “Happy Birthday”, after an orderly had given them a bag of popcorn for Shea’s birthday. On his first day in general population he met a Patriarca Family Soldato by the name of Carmen Tortora, who had gotten him soap, shower shoes, a toothbrush, floss, shampoo and a hair comb…as a sign of respect. Not long after an article comes out in the Providence Journal about how John “Red” Shea is Raymond Patriarca, Jr.’s bodyguard inside Danbury, which according Shea is completely fake, things take a turn for the worse. After this news story Shea is now looked at as Patriarca’s bodyguard and the go-between between the head of the New England Cosa Nostra and the head of the Southie Irish Mob, he is moved to Plymouth County Correctional Facility, only an hour and a half from home.

Time To Get Red Out

Tony Cardinale continually tried to get Shea out on bail, seeing as how many members of the Winter Hill Gang that were indicted had already been released on bail. Cardinale could not convince either the federal magistrate or the judge to allow his client the opportunity to post bail and get himself out of prison, even though he had a mother, sisters, nieces, a girlfriend and a job waiting for him on the outside. Whitey suggested he switch lawyers and sent up Richie Egbert, Shea stated that in all fairness to Tony he was in the pre-trial stages of his work on the John Gotti and Frank “Frankie Loc” LoCascio case were Salvatore “Sammy the Bull” Gravano had turned informant. Richie Egbert was able to get Shea bail, where Cardinale argued that Shea deserved bail because he was a good man(which didn’t work)…Egbert got him bail on the grounds that with some fourteen hundred hours of wiretap and phone tap evidence he and his client needed to be able to listen together and take notes, something they could not do in a federal penitentiary. The judge agreed and set Shea’s bail, it took two days for the paper work and he was released thanks to Whitey paying his bail, but, he was put under house arrest while awaiting trial. It took just about a year for Shea to be bailed out, a year that would come off of whatever time he was slammed with.

After being bailed out and placed on house arrest Shea was only allowed to leave his house to attend mass, see his lawyers or get medical care. He had little contact with any of the major Mob figures, who had not yet been placed under indictment, but Weeks and Whitey did see him once or twice at his lawyer’s office, in order to talk about his case.

When the prosecution and defense attorneys began to meet on hearings about Shea’s case and about possible plea bargains, Shea told Egbert that no matter what, he would only accept a guilty plea if there was a clause that said that Shea could not be called to any grand jury hearings. Without that, Shea knew that for the next 52 months, he could be subpoenaed before a grand jury and pleading his Fifth Amendment rights would get him an extra 18 months or the life of the grand jury added on to the end of his sentence. This was something in which Shea was not prepared to deal with, being subpoenaed and granted immunity, pleading the fifth and getting more time added to a plea deal that he struck to get himself less time. Shea was able to get a plea deal that called for him pleading guilty to distribution of cocaine, trafficking of cocaine and a managerial charge, but not the ongoing criminal narcotics enterprise charge. He was sentenced to eleven years and four months, including time served, and no grand juries. A few weeks before Shea had to report to federal prison he met with Whitey at the Old Colony Housing Projects in Southie and Whitey told him, “You’re one guy I always knew I never have to worry about.” and assured Shea that when he returned to Southie after his bit he would be taken care of and his mother and his girlfriend would be taken care of while he was away. Shea’s lawyer Egbert was even able to get the prosecution to agree to a self-surrender and the ankle bracelet was removed for Shea’s last weekend of freedom.
[edit] F.C.I. Milan
On Shea’s last night of freedom he took a plane to Detroit, which he paid for on his own and booked a hotel room for the night, he paid cash. When he gets to his room he talks to Penelope for the last time as a free man, and his mother. He had a “great steak and a bucket of ice cold beers”, he did not feel like checking out Detroit at all. He stayed in and slept well for the last time for a long time in a nice big bed. He took a taxi cab to Milan the next morning, the cabbie asked Shea if he wanted him to wait for him for his visit and Shea said he’d be waiting for a little more than eleven years, the cabbie offered to turn the cab around and get Shea out of there, but Shea declined the offer.

As far as Shea was concerned Milan was nothing but a sea of vermin, but after a while he ran into and met some decent guys. He met two guys from Dearborn, a father and son doing thirty and forty years for a drug operation, the father was white and the son was half white and half Latino, he met a one-armed older guy by the name of Moe, who was one of the head Muslims in Milan. Eventually Shea even ran into some Italians from Rhode Island and New York, he would socialize with them, take a walk and talk with them in the yard, see a few of them in the gym working out. Then his old pal, the man he was supposidly hired to be the bodyguard for, Raymon Patriarca, Jr. shows up. Shea quickly returned the favor that Patriarca had given him in Danbury, he bought Patriarca all new clothes, underwear, a new pillow and cotton blankets, little things like that made doing the time a little easier. Shea would play cards and talk with Patriarca. After a while Shea got a transfer to Fort Dix, New Jersey.

Betrayal

In 1997, Shea was betrayed by two men who he respected, James “Whitey” Bulger and Stephen “the Rifleman” Flemmi, he was also betrayed in 1993 by Paul “Pole Cat” Moore and again in 2000 by Kevin “Two” Weeks, but, even with all of these men who he respected and had respected him saving their own skin by turning rat, just because Whitey and Flemmi were doing it for twenty-five and thirty-five years respectively, Shea remained “honorable” and kept to the code of Southie. Upon his release on August 7th, 2002, Shea was greeted by by the new boss of the Irish Mob, George “Georgie Boy” Hogan, his son Michael, a soldier in the Irish Mob and one of his three attorneys and his friend Fran Hurley. He saw Penelope who cried, not because Shea was home but because she was too old for him and she wanted him to be able to have someone that could give him children.

John Shea is currently free from prison.
_________________________________________________________________________________

Name: John Shea
Nicknames: Red, Little Red
Born: 1965
Died: N/A

Biography:
John “Red” Shea was born on August 12th, 1965 in Boston City Hospital and lived in a small two bedroom apartment in a three family wooden row house on I Street in South Boston. In this home, he lived with his mother Mabel and his three older sisters Paula, Claire and Maureen. His father’s name was Al Shea who fixed television sets for a living, he was full blooded Irish and an alcoholic. By the time John was born his father had been kicked out of the house, his mother Mabel was half Irish a quarter Dutch and a quarter English. At age nine Shea’s father died of Cirrhosis of the Liver although Shea said it didn’t matter much “he was already gone from my life and now he was gone from his life”.

Shea grew up on the mean streets of Southie and learned just how mean those streets could be at the tender young age of five. At the age of five Shea was beaten by two older children, spit on and left in a gutter. He went home bleeding to his older sister Paula who attacked of the two older kids with a coatrack, as the other child ran away. After this, Shea’s sister Paula talked Shea’s mother Mabel into enrolling Shea into a gym to begin a career as a boxer.

As a kid, boxing was everything to Shea. He found it as a world he could relate to, a world where people valued self-protection and admired violence as long as it was controlled. At a young age Shea began boxing as the protege of Tommy Connors, he was twelve years old. At the age of six he had his first competition i nthe Baby Golden Gloves, he fought another youth boxer by the name of Brian Yanovich and won. Shea soon became Connors’ star pupil and Connors became the closest thing Shea ever had to a father figure. Connors taught Shea more than just how to box, he also taught Shea how to hand women. Shea won the Junior Olympic Shampionship for the first time when he was fourteen, which he went on to win three times in total. He compiled a record of sixty wins and six loses.

In high school Shea was eventually bused to Roxbury schools were the blacks outnumbered the whites heavily. Shea and his friends were not able to do anything because the blacks would tell them “You can’t sit here” “You can’t play here”, etc. Until one day when Shea and a few other Southie kids became fed up with it and pumbled a couple of the black students in the vacant auditorium. For the next few days Shea was practically stalked around the school by black students carrying knives and pipes that they somehow could sneak into the school and not get caught with. Then Shea dropped out of school and got his G.E.D., he continued his boxing carrer and started his life of crime on the streets of Southie.

Shea began his life of crime with his childhood friends Johnny Baldwin, Billy Mahoney and Ray Talent. They would go to the mall in Natick and go on a shoplifting spree and sell the clothes to bars in Southie, they would also tailgate(follow a truck around Southie, one guy follow the truck guy into the store, and another jump into the back of the truck and grab something), which they would also sell to bars in Southie. On the day of his sister Paula’s wedding, which Shea begged his mother to not make him go, Shea’s friends and partner Johnny Baldwin, and a few other friends Bobby McCormick, Billy Welch and Keith Miller all got drunk and began to drive to a fight with kids from the Point. But, they wouldn’t make it to the fight, instead they’d crash head on into a transit bus and all die.

Shea’s first arrest came on his mother’s birthday in 1980. He was arrested for assault and battery, he was over sister Claire’s house and got into a verbal argument with her about something small that barely even mattered. Shea then said “If you and that boyfriend of yours come over ma’s later, I’m gonna cut you!” and Claire respond “You ain’t gonna cut shit!”. Shea than proceeded to grab a knife from the kitchen and hold it up to Claire’s arm to scare her, but then Claire grabbed the blade and cut herself with it. Shea then flipped and through the knife into Claire’s walla and stormed out of his sister’s house. His sister Claire called the Boston Police and had Shea arrested, she also added to the story that Shea was drunk and had put the knife up to her daughter’s neck and threatened her daughter’s life. Claire pushed it all the way to trial. In the end of this whole mess Shea was saved by his sister Paula who testified that her and Shea’s niece Erin, Claire’s daughter, told her that “Uncle Jay didn’t do it, my mommy’s making me say it.” In the end Shea was given a two and a half year suspended sentence.

Not long thereafter Shea had his first real connection to the streets, it was an ex-boxer and a Winter Hill Gang drug dealer by the name of Paul “Pole Cat” Moore, who was a well respected by both the average citizen and the criminal element of Southie as well, was “living the life” in Southie. He had a nice car, nice clothes, plenty of women and a pretty lucrative drug business. Moore brought Shea around to all the bars that were connected to members of the Winter Hill Gang in Southie, although Moore himself did not drink much. Moore became Shea’s first mentor in the street life, he taught Shea how to sell drugs. Shea learned to notice were the back door was and if it was opened or closed, never to show money when the product or the money is being exchanged, you only care a small amount of your product on you, an amount that you can afford to ditch, to find a spot to hide the rest of you stash in, how to roll joints and cut and bag cocaine in little envelopes with eight folds. While working for Moore, Shea became very good at Math, the scale and breaking up the product. Shea was beginning to make some money of his own and saw the appeal to the criminal society in Southie.

Although now Shea was entrenching himself in the street life, he continued his dreams of boxing. Shea wound up working with a famous boxing trainer by the name of Eddie Flynn, who hadto have everything about his fighters his way…so he changed Shea’s ring name from John Shea to Sean O’Shea, to make him sound more Irish and less American. After catching a ride home from Flynn’s own son who also attempted a career in boxing, Shea realized that Flynn would ruin his career, just as he had done to his son, so he left his working venture with Eddie Flynn and called up a young lawyer by the name of Tony Cardinale who was born and raised in Hell’s Kitchen, and would go on to be on the lawyer team for John “Johnny Boy” Gotti, Jr., Gennaro “Jerry” Angiulo, Anthony “Fat Tony” Salerno and Francis “Cadillac Frank” Salemme. Tony Cardinale’s brother Dennis began working with Shea and brought him back to California were Shea had his first bout against a Mexican fighter that Shea would win a $500 purse and gain his first victory. In Shea’s second bout he would lose a split decision bout against a black fighter by the name of Wilkins, after the lose to Wilkins Shea returned to Southie and the drug dealing business with Paul Moore.

Shea wound up moving into Moore’s apartment and they moved most of their product out of the bar next to Moore’s apartment, Triple O’s, which in name belonged to Winter Hill Gang Lieutenant Kevin “Turtleneck Pants” O’Neil, but was really owned by James “Whitey” Bulger, a bouncer at the bar was a young tough guy and shylock who was also a member of the Winter Hill Gang and would become one of Whitey’s two proteges his name was Kevin “Two” Weeks. But, his apprenticeship with Moore would be short lived. Shea quickly became tired of selling grams and eight balls of cocaine for Paul Moore, he was sick of all the short comings of his life and soon began selling ounces of his own.

It wasn’t long before Shea had to buy in much larger quantities at a time in order to keep his customer base happy. Shea bought his first key after saving money from the ounces, eight balls and grams he had been hustling in the bars of Southie. When Shea was finally able to purchase his first key he went down to the Florida Keys to get it from a dealer named only “the Captain”, through this girl who was friends with Tommy Connors, an Italian woman by the name of Marina. At their first encounter The Captain believed that Shea was actually a cop, but in a sign of good faith Shea handed the $19,000 over to The Captain for the kilo of cocaine. The Captain than left after telling Shea he would be back with the product in about an hour. After a couple of hours Shea grew weiry and his temper began to flare up, but, instead of taking it out on Marina with verbal abuse, they both got drunk together and made love. Also during this waiting period a helicopter continually flew by and Shea grew paranoid and believed that the SWAT Team was coming for him. At 1:00 A.M. The Captain finally arrived with the kilo. Shea was furious and lashed out on The Captain to which the Captain responded, “I wanted to make sure you weren’t a cop, that was my helicopter.”, Shea left back for Southie.

The next time Shea made a trip to Florida to purchase product was again with Marina, but this time the product would not be arriving through The Captain. It was a Cuban that Shea referred to in his book as Jerry. Shea would make about a half dozen trips to do business with Jerry and his Cuban and Colombian drug partners, he also went to do business with Jerry because of Jerry’s “young and beautiful Cuban daughter”, whom Shea made love to on every trip for the entire night. Shea was very pleased with Jerry’s product the readings were always 87%, 88% or 89%, except on one occassion were the reading actually made it up to 90%. As Shea stated it was “gorgeous, flashy, sparkling and crisp”. When Shea arrived with the product in Southie he and a few of trusted friends, who became some of his business partners, would weigh out the kilo into eight balls, ounces and grams. It wasn’t long before Shea was noticed by Whitey Bulger. Whitey was at the time in his early sixties and Shea in his early twenties, forty years apart, but Whitey knew a good recruit when he saw one.

After a while of being on his own distributing his own product, and just a short time after Whitey noticing Shea which ment it wasn’t long before Shea had an ultimatum, either you’re working for Whitey or you die, Shea began working in Whitey’s organization as a Soldier in the drug crew led by a Lieutenant for which Shea only supplies the name Mickey O. According to Shea Mickey O was a “snake” and although he set Shea up for some very large purchases(seven or eight kilos of cocaine from his Florida connections at a time), Shea was not a fan of the way Mickey O operated his crew. After a while other dealers that were apart of Mickey O’s crew, including Shea’s original partner Paul “Pole Cat” Moore, began to realize that they were being kept out of the loop and complained about how they were not getting enough product and not making enough product and how Mickey O was stepping on the product more times than necessary and the Winter Hill drug crew began to gain a bad name for themselves. Whitey called in Mickey O, Mickey tried to blame it on Shea. Whitey then went and had a chat with Shea, Whitey told Shea after about a one minute long conversation that Shea had no need to worry, he knew it was Mickey’s doings and that Mickey would be forced into retirement and forced to leave Southie forever.

Around the same time that Shea was being recruited into Whitey’s organization, he fell in love with a woman by the name of Penelope who had olive skin, big brown eyes, brown hair, full lips and a nice body. She was of Italian heritage. Shea soon thereafter became very serious with Penelope and the two young love birds were quickly falling in love with one another, after Shea bought Penelope a pair of diamond earrings, Penelope’s mother did some research on Mr. John “Red” Shea, and asked Penelope to meet this Irish boy from Southie. Upon meeting Penelope’s mother Shea was confronted with the fact that people in the neighborhood had told her that Shea was a part of Whitey Bulger’s Irish Mafia and was a big time coke dealer. Shea denied both claims, he even denied the existance of Bulger’s Irish Mob. When Penelope’s mother asked Shea to promise that if he went to prison he would walk away from Penelope, Shea told her that he couldn’t promise that. Shea would later wind up proposing to Penelope, but, the wedding never took place. Shea stated that he could not bring a wife and children into the life he chose, he said he took Whitey’s advice on family and ran with it.

Not long after the banishment of “Mickey O”, Whitey knows who he wants to put in Mickey’s place as Lieutenant and Boss of the Winter Hill Gang’s drug operation. None other than John “Red” Shea. To organized a test for Shea, Kevin “Two” Weeks shakes down one of the drug dealers that Shea was being paid to protect. Shortly thereafter Shea flipped out at Kevin Weeks and threatened his life. Not long after Weeks gives Shea a call and says that Whitey wants to talk to him at the South Boston Liquor Mart. When Shea arrives he is led to the basement by Weeks, Weeks stands up against the wall and tries to cock back his Uzi submachine gun but can’t quite cock it back, then from the shadow’s Shea sees Whitey Bulger emerged with an Uzi of his own in his hand. Whitey then tells Shea that Shea’s “father figure” Tommy Connors is in trouble and has some heavy debts to Whitey that he has yet to pay. Whitey tells Shea that because Shea is close to Connors Whitey wants to know were Connors hides his money. Shea then replies “Pull the trigger, if you’re taking from him…than you’re taking from me.”, now that’s a ballsy move. Whitey then cocked back his Uzi and pointed it at Shea, seconds passed. Whitey lifts up the Uzi and uncocks it and tells Shea that it was all a test, a test that Shea passed. Whitey told Shea “You got fucking big balls. You’re loyal. You’re one loyal fucking guy. Now you’re with me”. The next day at twenty years old Shea became a Lieutenant in the Winter Hill Irish Mob and the Boss of Bulger’s Drug Operation, making him have a large amount of heat on him, but he also controlled the Mob’s most lucrative racket.

With his new rank and power Shea now has a very sizeable crew working for him including the MacKenzie brothers, Ronnie and Eddie, Paul “Pole Cat” Moore, Tommy Cahill and many others. But, all was not well, after Shea was given his new seat of power, Shea began to realize that there were many drug dealers in Boston, his turf, that were independant, as he was when he first started his operation. Shea decided that he had to force them to work for him. Shea’s policy was for dealing on his turf with a different product you would pay him back the money that your product would have cost, had you bought it from him, and then you would be stucking buying their product and only their product. An example of this policy was when Shea caught a dealer selling coke in Connolly’s Cafe, a dealer that was not buying from one of his guys or selling for one of his guys. Shea went absolutely crazy and dragged him into the back room, screaming “You motherfucker, I’ll rip your fucking eyes out of your head! You don’t sell in this fucking bar again unless you deal with me. Now you’re going to have to pay me back for selling in here, and you only buy the product off me!”, the dealer was almost in tears, he pleaded with Shea and said that he would buy the product off of him but didn’t have the money to pay Shea back. Shea then pistol whipped the dealer with a .38 revolver and put the barrel of the gun to the middle of the dealer’s forehead. One of Shea’s guys by the name of Jackie Mackie grabbed Shea and got him off of the daler. The guy came up with the money the next day and from there on out only bought his product from Shea or one of Shea’s distributors.

After a while Shea makes Tommy Cahill his personal driver and pays him seven thousand for every trip that Cahill takes with him down to Florida. But, Shea grew tired of Jerry or as he called him “My Tony Montana Connection”, because of his flashy and wild ways. He moved on and began purchasing his product from the man who supplied Jerry, Jesus Nodarse. One summer day Shea and Cahill arrive for another pick up from Nodarse, but, Nodarse is dry so Nodarse decides that he will bring Shea and Cahill to one of Nodarse’s connects to pick up the product. All three men pile into Shea and Cahill’s rented Nissan and pull out of Nodarse’s driveway, just a couple of blocks down a pick up truck pulls up in front of their car and stops, then another car pulls up from behind them with flashing blue lights, it was the police…or so they thought. Instead it wound up being a couple of Cuban who took Shea and Cahill’s rented Nissan, Shea’s gun that was inside the car and $200,000. Shea then began to threaten Nodarse with death and Nodarse began to make phone calls trying to get the money, car and gun back in order to save his life. After a while Shea and Cahill both realize that Nodarse was telling the truth, and he really did have nothing to do with it. In the end Shea took Nodarse’s four kilos of cocaine that he had and went on his way back to Southie. He was able to make the money that had been taken from him back, after stepping on the product many more times than he should have.

Not long thereafter things began to heat up in Southie, it was clear that Shea and his main associates were under investigation. A Boston Detective by the name of Beers had been following Shea around with a D.E.A. Agent. They wanted to bust Shea. One afternoon Shea receive a phone call and was told that the D.E.A and the Boston Police were raiding the South Boston Liquor Mart and the Rotary Variety, both owned by James “Whitey” Bulger. Shea drove by and saw that the two shops were actually being raided, so Shea decided to get off of the streets. He went and worked out for a while, he said it helped to pump some iron, get the heart rate up, sweat and sweat and clear my head. Later that night as Shea returned to his apartment Detective Beers and about twenty other cops and agents apprehended Shea and served him with a search warrant for his premises. When Beers approached him Shea told him to get back and asked “Who wants to get it first?!”, a F.B.I. Agent came up from behind him and Shea kicked him in the gut, a move Shea would later regret. Shea was placed under arrest for Assault and Batter of a Federal Officer. The next at the federal court buildings Tony Cardinale is waiting for Shea. Cardinale notifies Red that he has only been charged with the assaul and battery charge, but they also found a few pounds of marijuana, a .357 snub-nose shotgun and ammunition in his apartment, but for the time being the charges were not pressed against him. Cardinale did give Shea some good news, the charges were not going to stick. The charges were later dropped and Shea walked away scott free, but, the twenty-four year old did get all the bad press that comes along with a mobsters arrest.

After the assault and battery charge, Shea sensed that something bad was about to happen. To him it was like a cat and mouse game, he slowed down the business, got out of town as often as possible to make it seem as though he had nothing to do with any criminal activities in Southie. He remembered being tailed by agents when he was leaving his apartment, he was followed all around, so, instead of driving, Shea decided to walk everyone…making it a little hard for the feds to follow him without him realizing it. On August 8th, 1990, Shea was walking down to the D Street Deli to meet with Paul Moore and Kevin Weeks when he noticed a Detectie by the name of Duwan pass by him slowly while he was walking down Columbia Road, about a block and a half ahead Duwan pulled over, Sheak new what was going on. Shea turned around and ran to George “Georgie Boy” Hogan’s house, who was one of Shea’s men who after Shea went away would become the Lieutenant of Shea’s crew and after Weeks went away would become the Boss. George’s son Michael, another guy in Shea’s crew, was on the porch, Shea says “Mike, watch this. Any minute an agent is gonna come around that corner.”. Michael tells Shea that the feds just hit the D Street Deli, where his father is. Around the corner comes Duwan, so he ran again until Duwan caught up to him. Duwan gets out of his car with his gun drawn and a shakey hand, he tells Shea to cuff himself which Shea refuses to do, back up comes and Shea is apprehended. When he was apprehended he was spoken to by five different D.E.A. Agents who wanted dirt on Jesus Nodarse, Steven Flemmi, Whitey Bulger, Kevin Weeks, Kevin O’Neil and others. He told one agent, just inches away from his face, while handcuffed “I am no fucking rat. You got that. There is nothing worse than life, is there? So go fuck yourself. The fucking games are over. It is finished. You got it. Put me back in my cell.”, this is were the interogations ended.

The next day Shea was on the front page of the news they rounded up 51 mobsters in total in what the papers called “a sweeping blow to the criminal organization of reputed underworlf figure James J. (Whitey) Bulger”. The charges ranged from distributing cocaine up to conspiring to operate a criminal narcotics enterprise. Shea was at the top of the list and the list read as is
- John “Red” Shea, 24
- John “Jackie” Mack, 42
- Walter Bagley, 38
- Thomas “Tommy” Cahill, 42
- George “Georgie Boy” Hogan, 44
- Tommy Connors, 44
- William “Billy” McCarthy, 26
- Paul “Pole Cat” Moore, 40
- John “Jackie” Cherry, 39
- Kevin “Andre the Giant” MacDonald, 33
- Edward “Eddie Mac” MacKenzie, Jr., 22
- Louis “Louie” Sasso, 40
- Jesus Nodarse, 50
There were also others, but, these were the main players in the indictment. Shea, John “Jackie” Mack, Paul “Pole Cat” Moore and John “Jackie” Cherry were all charged with Operating a Continuing Criminal Enterprise through their Narcotics Business, an offense that ccaries a twenty years to life sentence…the R.I.C.O. Act. After the indictment was read and all of the defendants plead not guilty, Shea faced the reality that no bail was to be set for him, he was than transported to the closest federal prison, he took a three-hour trip by bus to Danbury, Connecticut. All of the men were put in the hole. In his second day in the hole Shea turned 25, Paul Moore, Eddi MacKenzie, Tommy Cahill, Louie Sasso and Walter Bagley(who were all with him) sung Shea “Happy Birthday”, after an orderly had given them a bag of popcorn for Shea’s birthday. On his first day in general population he met a Patriarca Family Soldato by the name of Carmen Tortora, who had gotten him soap, shower shoes, a toothbrush, floss, shampoo and a hair comb…as a sign of respect. Not long after an article comes out in the Providence Journal about how John “Red” Shea is Raymond Patriarca, Jr.’s bodyguard inside Danbury, which according Shea is completely fake, things take a turn for the worse. After this news story Shea is now looked at as Patriarca’s bodygaurd and the go-between between the head of the New England Cosa Nostra and the head of the Southie Irish Mob, he is moved to Plymouth County Correctional Facility, only an hour and a half from home.

Tony Cardinale continually tried to get Shea out on bail, seeing as how many members of the Winter Hill Gang that were indicted had already been released on bail. Cardinale could not convince either the federal magistrate or the judge to allow his client the opportunity to post bail and get himself out of prison, even though he had a mother, sisters, nieces, a girlfriend and a job waiting for him on the outside. Whitey suggested he switch lawyers and sent up Richie Egbert, Shea stated that in all fairness to Tony he was in the pretrial stages of his work on the John Gotti and Frankie LoCascio case were Salvatore “Sammy the Bull” Gravano had turned informant. Richie Egbert was able to get Shea bail, where Cardinale argued that Shea deserved bail because he was a good man(which didn’t work)…Egbert got him bail on the grounds that with some fourteen hundred hours of wiretap and phone tap evidence he and his client needed to be able to listen together and take notes, something they could not do in a federal penetentiary. The judge agreed and set Shea’s bail, it took two days for the paper work and he was released thanks to Whitey paying his bail, but, he was put under house arrest while awaiting trial. It took just about a year for Shea to be bailed out, a year that would come off of whatever time he was slammed with.

After being bailed out and placed on house arrest Shea was only allowed to leave his house to attend mass, see his lawyers or get medical care…he would get out every chance he got. Shea went to mass very Sunday, just to get out for an hour, he would play racquetball, golf and jog with his three different lawyers, anything to get himself some fresh air and some time out and about in Southie. He had little contact with any of the major players that were yet to be placed under indictment–Whitey, Flemmi, Weeks, O’Neil–but Weeks and Whitey did see him once or twice at his lawyer’s office, which can’t be bugged due to client-lawyer privilege, in order to talk about his case. Whitey warned Shea of how the prison system had changed, how when he goes away he’d have to be very careful because of all the “crack niggers” facing mandatory sentencing of twenty to life, and all of the other crimes that now had mandatory sentencing. All of this was throwing guys into the jails for alot longer than they should be with no chance of getting out with any early release, i.e. good behavior. But, Whitey assured Shea “John, it’s not as bad as it sounds.”.

When the prosecution and defense attornies began to meet on hearings about Shea’s case and about possible plea agreements to get this off of the calendar without going to trial, one thing Shea told Egbert was no matter what he would only except a guilty plea if there was a clause that said that Shea could not be called to any grand jury hearings. Without that, Shea knew that for the next 52 months, he could be subpoened before a grand jury and pleading the fifth will get him an extra 18 months or the life of the grand jury added on to the end of his sentence. This was something in which Shea was not prepared to deal with, being subpoened and granted immunity, pleading the fifth and getting more time added to a plea deal that he struck to get himself less time. Shea was able to get a plea deal that called for him pleading guilty to distribution of cocaine, trafficking of cocaine and a managerial charge, but not the ongoing criminal narcotics enterprise charge. He was sentenced to eleven years and four months, including time served, and no grand juries. A few weeks before Shea had to report to federal prison he met with Whitey at the Old Colony Housing Projects in Southie and Whitey told him, “You’re one guy I always knew I never have to worry about.” and assured Shea that when he returned to Southie after his bit he would be taken care of and his mother and his girlfriend would be taken care of while he was away. Shea’s lawyer Egbert was even able to get the prosecution to agree to a self-surrender and the ankle bracelete was removed for Shea’s last weekend of freedom.

On Shea’s last night of freedom he took a plane to Detroit, which he paid for on his own and booked a hotel room for the night, he paid cash. When he gets to his room he talks to Penelope for the last time as a free man, and his mother. He had a “great steak and a bucket of ice cold beers”, he did not feel like checking out Detroit at all. He stayed in and slept well for the last time for a long time in a nice big bed. He took a taxi cab to Milan the next morning, the cabbie asked Shea if he wanted him to wait for him for his visit and Shea said he’d be waiting for a little more than eleven years, the cabbie offered to turn the cab around and get Shea out of there, but, Shea declined the offer…he had to do the “honorable thing”. When he arrived at F.C.I. Milan he was stripped down his Armani coat, Armani pants, Calvin Klein shirt, Armani briefs and Bally shoes all went in his Louis Vuitton bag to be shipped home, in return he was given a V-Neck Khaki Shirt and pants with an elastic waisband, boxer shorts and a pair of blue deck shoes. He was then given a bedroll, a pillow, a sheet and a thin whool blanket, and was brought to the B-2 Unit, Second Floor. They allowed Shea to keep his three chains, a little gold chain with St. Jude from Penelope, St. Christopher’s medal and another from Penelope’s mother, he wore all three chains for his entire bit. Shea would come to learn that about eighty percent of the prison population in Milan was black and most were gangbangers from Detroit and Chicago.

As far as Shea was concerned Milan was nothing but a sea of vermin, but after a while he ran into and met some decent guys. He met two guys from Dearborn, a father and son doing thirty and forty years for a drug operation, the father was white and the son was half white and half Latino, he met a one-armed older guy by the name of Moe, who was one of the head Muslims in Milan. Eventually Shea even ran into some Italians from Rhode Island and New York, he would socialize with them, take a walk and talk with them in the yard, see a few of them in the gym working out. Then his old pal, the man he was supposidly hired to be the bodyguard for, Raymon Patriarca, Jr. shows up. Shea quickly returned the favor that Patriarca had given him in Danbury, he bought Patriarca all new clothes, underwear, a new pillow and cotton blankets, little things like that made doing the time a little easier. Shea would play cards and talk with Patriarca. After a while Shea got a transfer to Fort Dix, New Jersey.

In 1997, Shea was betrayed by two men who he respected, James “Whitey” Bulger and Stephen “the Rifleman” Flemmi, he was also betrayed in 1993 by Paul “Pole Cat” Moore and again in 2000 by Kevin “Two” Weeks, but, even with all of these men who he respected and had respected him saving their own skin by turning rat, just because Whitey and Flemmi were doing it for twenty-five and thirty-five years respectively, Shea remained “honorable” and kept to the code of Southie. He kept his mouth shut and did his time like a man. Upon his release on August 7th, 2002, Shea was greeted by by the new boss of the Irish Mob George “Georgie Boy” Hogan, his son Michael, a Soldier in the Irish Mob and one of his three attorneys and his friend Fran Hurley. He saw the love of his life Penelope who cried, not because Shea was home but because she was too old for him and she wanted him to be able to have someone that could give him children.

John Shea is now living in freedom as a stand-up guy that lived by the code, and the secrets of his life of crime will most likely be taken to the grave with him.