Louis Litif

Louis Litif

Louis R. Litif (December 5th, 1934 - May 11, 1982) a.k.a. "Nicholas Noonan" a.k.a. "Louis Woodward" was a member of the Winter Hill Gang and a successful bookmaker and an informant for the FBI for over fifteen years before his murder. Throughout his entire time with the Winter Hill Gang he was Top Echelon Informant.

Early life

Born Louis R. Lataif-Litif a.k.a. "Little Louis" a.k.a. "Disco Louie" was the son of Francophone-Lebanese or Syrian parents who were immigrants from what was then known as the Lebanese Republic. His family surname Litif is a derivation of the Qur'anic Sufis verses, virtually all the Sufis distinguish the Lataif-as-Sitta, otherwise referred to as the the six subtleties; which are made of Nafs, Qalb, Sirr, Ruh, Khafi, and Akhfa. His last name was shortened and Americanized upon his parent's arrival in America.

Louis's parents left Lebanon in 1943 after Germany took over in World War II and settled in Somerville, Massachusetts where he was born. Sometime in the 1950's he broke strict Lebanese marital laws and married an Irish-American woman named Anna. He was born and raised in the same South End, Boston-Roxbury, Massachusetts neighborhood that had spawned Patriarca crime family capo Illario Zannino, Stephen Flemmi and Vincent Flemmi. Litif made himself a fixture on the handball courts at the L Street Bathhouse, playing all comers for $25 or $50 a game. His reputation as an earner made him popular with South Boston's criminal elite, and at one point police believed he was essentially running the bookmaking rackets, taking in as much as $20,000 a week. Sources had stated that his boss was James J. Bulger. In he late 1960's and early 1970's he was considered in law official circles to be one of the top bookmakers in South Boston.

Before 1976, when he began associating with the Winter Hill Gang, little is known about Louis, except that he was approached to help James J. Bulger as "extra muscle" in their successful extortion rackets. Louis was offered to be a full-fledged member of the Winter Hill Gang but chose to remain as an "independent operative" associated with the gang. While he was an associate of the gang he had a business relationship with Patriarca crime family capo Illario Baione. He is one of the few members of the Winter Hill Gang other than Alex Rocco, Stephen Flemmi and Vincent Flemmi, Richard Castucci and John Martorano and James Martorano who were not of Irish or Italian descent.

Louis owned an acreage in Yarmouth County, Nova Scotia which police later excavated, while looking for the skeletal remains of Kenneth Conrad. In his younger years he was agile and athletically fit but became overweight, blossoming to 250 pounds after becoming addiction to cocaine in the 1970's. Before his addiction to cocaine became severe he had been one of FBI Special Agent John Connolly's handball partners at the Boston Athletic Club located at 653 Summer Street in Boston, Massachusetts. Sometime before 1967 he agreed to become a Top Echelon Informant for the Boston FBI. It is unknown who Litif's FBI handler's were, although it was not H. Paul Rico or John Connolly.

It had never been publicly disclosed why Louis agreed to become an informant, but he had been arrested in the past for bookmaking and drug possession, before his association with the gang. Louis has the distinction of being one of the longest-tenured Top Echelon Program informants in the Winter Hill Gang who was never exposed as one or murdered for being one. In the 1970's he was subject to hostile remarks about his weight gain, poor personal hygiene and appearance by James J. Bulger which made it clear that he was not well liked. Bulger also openly disapproved of the flamboyant articles of clothing that Louis wore, as opposed to Bulger's incognito and inconspicuous wardrobe that would not draw unnecessary attention from the law.

Litif became more violent. In 1975 he was arrested and convicted for pistol whipped an individual with a .357 Magnum which he carried in the waistband of his pants and pulled out whenever he had the urge. He wore natty monogrammed suede loafers and would not hesitate to beat someone if they were late on settling their debt with him. The newspapers reported that he was suspected of shooting a man six times after an argument in the alley outside Hap's Lounge, the barroom he co-owned with another bookmaker and cocaine dealer James Matera. Somehow, the doctors at Boston City hospital were fortunate enough to be able to save Litif's alleged victim. When a hydro bill from the water company came in at an unexpectedly high $500, Litif and Matera became angry with each other and refused to back down.

Whether it was his worsening and well known cocaine addiction or profitable bookmaking enterprise played a part in Louis agreeing to be an informant is unknown. At the gang's headquarters, Lancaster Foreign Motors, where the gang would plan robberies and shakedown schemes in the back office, it is unknown if he ever wore a wire transmitter recorder during any of these conversations. On record at the FBI, none are known to exist. Acting as an informant against the Winter Hill Gang, the potential damage, if any, that he caused the gang is unknown. In his book "Brothers Bulger", author Howie Carr has dismissed Litif as being a "run of the mill Eisenhower-era hoodlum"."

The Murder of Matera and Conrad

Earlier than most of the Winter Hill Gang, he realized that narcotics, and not gambling, were where the money would be made in the future. He was soon double-crossed somehow by a small-time Italian-American drug dealer named James Matera. Louis was considered by Howie Carr and the authorities to be an "intermittant" member of the Winter Hill Gang. He was a regular habituate of a bar called Hap's Lounge. Louis called for a sit-down at Hap's Lounge, which was deserted except for a bartender, Kenneth "Bobby" Conrad. Then Litif appeared and ordered Matera to the basement where he shot him twice in the head. Before following Louis down into the basement he had told Kenneth, "Hey Bobby, if I'm not back in fifteen minutes, come looking for me 'cause I'm probably dead."

Shortly thereafter, Conrad disappeared and was declared missing. After the Boston Police Department turned up without any leads, Kenneth's daughter turned to the FBI who turned the case over to FBI Special Agent John Connolly. Agent Connolly's goal, as with every other crime committed in South Boston made the case disappear. Louis was known to have worked for James J. Bulger, and if an investigation suddenly came down on Litif, he might be persuaded to try and plead a bargain, by agreeing to turn state's evidence against James J. Bulger. This led to the conclusion of Bulger and Connolly that Louis would have to be murdered. Someone scrawled the word "nigger" on his car, which was a sure sign that South Boston had turned on him. He began taking elaborate precautions, fortifying his apartment in Quincy, Massachusetts with shotguns and an alarm, and putting the name "Nicholas Noonan" on his mailbox and "Louis Woodward" on his telephone bill.

He had not been authorized to murder anyone, but he had, and the penalty for his insubordination was death. James J. Bulger's theory was, if you let your associates start performing freelance contract killings, murdering individuals might become a habit, and that threatened the organization of the Winter Hill Gang with a reigning power of anarchy. The first problem that John Connolly had to settle was Kenneth Conrad's daughter, who had turned to the FBI to investigate into the suspicious disappearance of her father.

As she later recalled in court, when she went to the FBI searching for answers about her father's disappearance, John Connolly told her bluntly what had happened. "Honey," he said, "Your father's dead. They knifed him. But don't worry. They got him drunk first." She later recalled herself asking him in a 2001 newspaper account, "I saw it", he said. John Connolly told her that if she went to the Boston police, it might jeopardize some very important informants in the Boston underworld. The daughter's problem was that her family badly needed the money from her father's life insurance policy, but couldn't collect the money without a death certificate. John Connolly straightened everything out with a single letter to the insurance company on FBI stationary. Two decades later, the Conrad family was able to produce a letter from the carrier stating that the missing persons case had been resolved thanks to the efforts of "agent Connolly."

Litf's Murder

James J. Bulger summoned Litif to Bulger's hangout The Triple O's. Brian Halloran, just released from prison was sent to meet Louis. He chauffeured him back o the Triple O's in Louis's car, and Halloran dropped him off at the front door. He went upstairs to Bulger's makeshift office where Bulger shot him twice in the head. Afterwards, Bulger and Halloran wrapped his corpse in a blanket and put it in the trunk of Louis's own car. To send a message to the Patriarca crime family, Bulger instructed Halloran to park Louis's car on Shawmut Avenue out front of Illario Baione's Laundromat which acted as his criminal headquarters.

In the months before his murder, Louis had started to spend too much in the North End which aroused suspicions of his loyalty to the Winter Hill Gang. He left the car out front of Illario Zannino's headquarters to send a message to diminish any thoughts of challenging Bulger's underworld power. It was also to send a warning to young South End hoodlum Robert Sullivan who operated a thriving drug trafficking business out of Zannino's tavern on Shawmut Avenue, and had come up under Baione's tutelage.

Due to the fact that he was of Irish descent, and not Italian Bulger felt that he should be the one providing him "protection" and not Baione. Halloran parked Litif's car, wiped down the steering wheel and doors for fingerprints, and then walked back to South Boston, where he then assumed his natural pose, on a bar stool at Triple O's. Litif's body was discovered the next day; neither Boston newspaper mentioned the significance of where the body was discovered.

Investigation into Litif Murder

A week or so later, Herald American police reporter Paul Corsetti was investigating the Litif murder and Bulger's obvious involvement in it. After several days of reporting the story, Corsetti received a call at the paper telling him that if he wanted more information on the Litif gangland slaying, he should show up at P.J. Clarke's, a popular saloon in Quincy Market. He was confronted by James J. Bulger who subversively threatened him and his family with death. Corsetti attempted to seek out help from Ilario Zannino but without success.

Eventually, Corsetti received information that Bulger, for some unknown reason, had been concerned that the newspaper was working on a story about his brother William Bulger. Through intermediaries, Corsetti made it clear to James J. Bulger that he was interested only in Louis Litif, not William Bulger. Soon, anonymous tips began flooding in, and Corsetti was able to put together a passable, if incomplete, story on Litif's murder that promptly vanished from the public prints.


* "The Brothers Bulger: How They Terrorized and Corrupted Boston for a Quarter Century" by Howie Carr
* "Deadly Alliance: The FBI's Secret Partnership with the Mob" by Ralph Ranalli
* www.wrko.com

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