Reputed Mobster Wins Lottery; State Says No Way Drawing Was Fixed
BOSTON (AP) _ Some people around here can’t help but think the fix was in when a reputed mobster hit a $14.3 million jackpot. Lottery officials say the win was strictly legit, but it’s a sticky situation nonetheless.
″The only person that probably would have caused more trouble is if my mother had won,″ state Treasurer Joseph Malone said Tuesday.
James J. ″Whitey″ Bulger, whose younger brother, William, is president of the Massachusetts Senate, hit the winning number along with three friends in a $14.3 million drawing Friday.
Bulger, who declined to be photographed when he appeared at the lottery’s headquarters, was quoted by the Boston Herald as saying, ″They’re never going to believe this one.″
Not all Bostonians believe it. But lottery officials say there’s no way the game was fixed. Malone is more concerned about the man who sold the winning ticket - and shared in the prize.
The ticket was bought by Michael C. Linskey of Boston, who gets half the winnings. Bulger, Patrick Linskey of Hanover and Kevin J. Weeks of Quincy share the other half. Bulger’s one-sixth share totals $89,566 annually for 20 years, after taxes. The men picked up their first checks Monday.
Weeks is licensed by the state to sell lottery tickets and Malone said he would investigate whether the license can be revoked based on Weeks’ association with Bulger.
″We have a fellow who walked into the state lottery building with this reputed organized crime figure,″ Malone said. ″Essentially he said, ’I’m an agent, I’m here, I’m with these gentlemen, I don’t feel the least bit sheepish about it.‴
Bulger, 62, is alleged to have been a lieutenant in the Winter Hill Gang. The President’s Commission on Organized Crime in 1986 called him a ″reputed killer, bank robber and drug trafficker.″ He was convicted in 1956 of robbing banks in Massachusetts, Rhode Island and Indiana and served less than half a 20-year sentence.
Lottery Director Thomas O’Heir said Weeks is a model agent and the state knew of his friendship with Bulger when he was licensed in 1985. He also said it is not unusual for lottery agents to buy tickets from their own outlets.
The Boston Globe, citing city records, said Weeks sold his interest in the South Boston Liquor Mart - where the ticket was bought - in 1986. It said records show that the lottery license remains in his name.
Weeks, Bulger and the Linksey brothers have unlisted telephone numbers and could not be reached for comment Tuesday.
The odds of winning the jackpot Friday were 13.9 million to 1, lottery officials said. The winning season ticket, bought in December, cost $50.
The drawing is shown live on local televison. The winning numbers are selected by a machine, which drops numbered rubber balls from a bin. There are three sets of balls; one set is chosen at random right before the drawing.
An engineering firm tests the solid balls once a month, checking their weight, circumference and bounce. The balls were checked after Friday’s drawing.
″I’d say absolutely there was no way any fix could be in,″ O’Heir said.
In Pennsylvania in 1980, the ping pong balls used in the drawing were altered. Six people were convicted in the case, which brought greater scrutiny of lotteries nationwide. In another insider scam in Pennsylvania - this one in 1988 - two men almost got away with a $15.2 million jackpot by turning in a fake ticket.
Bulger’s win prompted calls to radio talk shows from skeptics. The subject was still hot Tuesday night.
″It’s just too coincidental,″ said Tom Kaplanes, a bouncer at the Black Rose, a popular Boston bar. ″I’m sure the Treasury Department officials are pulling out their hair.″
Others said Bulger must have won fairly.
Patron Mike Powers, who was visiting from New York, said: ″If it was a fix, there was no way he’d have taken the money in his own name. I think it’s a lottery official’s worst nightmare to have a gangster win this thing.″