The shadowy world of organized crime has long captivated audiences, both in cinema and popular culture, for its layers of complexity, loyalty, betrayal, and the constant dance between law enforcement and criminal masterminds. The allure lies in the exploration of a clandestine society where power, money, and influence are wielded with impunity. Netflix’s ‘How to Become a Mob Boss’ delves into this realm, providing a nuanced perspective that goes beyond the stereotypical portrayal of mob bosses. Instead, the series sheds light on the unsung heroes, the indispensable individuals who played crucial roles in executing and expanding the mob’s operations. Among these figures is Johnny Martorano, a character whose life story is nothing short of fascinating.
Johnny Martorano’s Reign as “The Executioner”
Born in Somerville, Massachusetts, in 1940, Johnny Martorano’s early life was shaped by the influence of organized crime. Raised in a Catholic household, Martorano diverged from the path of formal education, opting not to pursue studies beyond high school. Guided by his father, who had close connections with the criminal underworld, Martorano was informed that his destiny lay among similar people, dissuading him from seeking opportunities beyond that realm. Rejecting seven football scholarships after high school, Martorano chose to remain in Boston, where he came under the mentorship of Stephen Flemmi. Under Flemmi’s guidance, Martorano’s trajectory took a decisive turn, and by the age of 25, he had become an active and integral member of the criminal world.
Operating within the folds of organized crime, Martorano engaged in a range of criminal enterprises that included extortion, racketeering, and drug trafficking. His criminal pursuits were not only characterized by their scale but also by their ruthlessness. Martorano earned a notorious reputation as a hitman, allegedly carrying out numerous contract killings on behalf of the Winter Hill Gang. His lethal proficiency earned him the nickname “The Executioner.” One of his most infamous acts was his involvement in the murder of suspected informants and rival gang members during Boston’s notorious gang wars in the 1960s and 1970s.
In 1979, Stephen Flemmi and James “Whitey” Bulger got wind of an impending indictment related to a horse race-fixing scheme involving Fat Tony Ciulla and several other Winter Hill Gang members. Swiftly alerted by his associates, Martorano made a hasty escape to Florida, effectively evading the impending legal troubles. Over the next 16 years, Martorano lived as a fugitive, continually called upon to participate in criminal activities such as the murders of Roger Wheeler and John Callahan. However, Martorano’s life on the run came to an end in 1995 when he was apprehended on a racketeering indictment. Facing the weight of the charges against him, Martorano opted for a significant legal pivot and, in 1999, unexpectedly agreed to a plea bargain deal.
Where is John Martorano Now?
Johnny Martorano’s loyalty to the Winter Hill Gang was tested when he discovered that his associates, James “Whitey” Bulger and Stephen Flemmi, had not made any concerted effort to shield him from the 1979 race-fixing indictment. Instead, they had secured their safety through a settlement with FBI officer John Connolly and it was Bulger and Flemmi who had reportedly tipped off authorities about Martorano’s whereabouts, leading to his arrest. Faced with this betrayal, Martorano confessed to approximately 20 murders. In exchange for his cooperation and detailed confessions, Martorano secured a reduced prison sentence of 12 years.
In 2007, he was granted early release and the government provided him with $20,000 in cash to facilitate his fresh start. In 2008, he even did a television interview with Steve kroft on CBS News’ ’60 Minutes.’ Martorano’s transformation continued during the 2013 trial against his former associate, James “Whitey” Bulger where Martorano took the stand and played an important role in ensuring Bulger’s conviction. In the aftermath of these legal proceedings, Martorano has been reported to be leading a quiet and seemingly reformed life in Milford County, Massachusetts. Described as an amiable neighbor, he has even been known to share holiday cheer by bringing cookies to residents during the winter holidays. The county sheriff has attested to Martorano’s peaceful and law-abiding existence, noting a lack of trouble or concerns since he settled into the community.
Read More: Where is John Connolly Now?