Patrick "Pat" Nee (born February 1943) is an Irish immigrant, former member of the Mullen Gang and later the Winter Hill Gang, Vietnam veteran, and the bestselling author of the memoir A Criminal and an Irishman; The Inside Story of the Boston Mob-IRA Connection.
Nee was born in Ros Muc, an Irish language speaking village in the Connemara, County Galway. He has recalled,
"Our family had it tough in Ireland, sure, but I'm not going to tell you any of that Angela's Ashes crap to try to gain your sympathy. We might not have had many good clothes, but Ma washed them every day. There was always good food. In fact, Ma never let my brothers and I go to bed hungry. And I remember falling asleep every night to a penetrating fire that burned until early morning."
Nee's four maternal aunts had already emigrated, three to Boston and one to Pittsburgh, influencing the Nees' decision to settle in Boston. Nee's father emigrated to America in 1952 and for a year worked as a laborer. He got a house together for his family and sent his wife the passage money a year later. Their cousins drove them down to Cork, where they boarded an English cruise ship for the trip to America, settling in South Boston, Massachusetts. Nee became a member of the Mullen Gang at the age of 14 and fought in several turf battles. He has recalled,
"My progression to crime was as easy as a baby's transition from crawling to walking. I didn't have an epiphany; I never sat down and had a soul searching experience in which I decided that being a criminal was my goal in life. It just seemed natural - there was a lot of money to be had if you spent the time planning the jobs right. The more I hung with the Mullens, the easier it was to go out on jobs. I'd simply ask if they needed another guy."
Upon reaching adulthood, Nee enlisted in the U.S. Marine Corps. He arrived in Vietnam with the 4th Marine Brigade in 1965 and saw combat at Phu Bai.
After his return to South Boston in October 1966, he rejoined the Mullen gang and became one of its leaders in a war against the crime family bossed by the Killeen brothers. He relates in his memoirs that his mother would henceforth regret not throwing him off the back of the immigrant ship in 1952.
On May 13, 1972, South Boston gang boss Donald Killeen was shot to death by Mullen gang enforcers Jimmy Mantville and Tommy King outside his home in suburban Framingham, Massachusetts. The leadership of the Killeen faction then devolved on James "Whitey" Bulger.
However, Bulger and his fellow Killeens fled the city in the aftermath of their boss's murder, fearing that they would be next. Instead of murdering Bulger, however, Nee arranged for the dispute to be mediated by Howie Winter and Patriarca crime family captain "J.R." Joseph Russo. After a sit-down at Chandler's restaurant in the South End, Boston, the two gangs joined forces, with Winter as overall boss.
According to Nee,
"Nobody talked fault, although at first it was tense while we ran down the 'who killed who' list. Whitey was a defeated warrior looking to keep as much honor as possible. He knew the Mullens had courageous, fierce men willing to die for theirs, and he was perceptive. Deep down, Whitey knew that he couldn't take over for the Killeens without cutting the Mullens in on their bookmaking and loansharking. Tommy [King] and I felt victorious, but we didn't want to gloat. The meeting lasted for six hours. We ate good steaks, chasing them down with nothing stronger than ginger ale. It was business, and contrary to media stereotype, we weren't a bunch of lowlifes who sat around drinking beer all day and all night."
Also according to Nee,
"The balance of the meeting was spent forming an alliance, and by far the hardest part was deciding whom to protect. After a war, each side usually gets to protect so many people from harm. Those who aren't protected are fair game for retribution and 'shake-downs.' Everything was split down the middle. All the horses, dogs, bookmaking, and loansharking were now going to be under our mutual control. This was the beginning of our relationship. Whitey and I were now officially partners and nobody at that table could ever have possibly imagined how this treacherous f--- would treat his partners."
After Winter was convicted of fixing horse races in 1979 the leadership of the gang fell on James "Whitey" Bulger. Nee responded by relocating to Charlestown, Massachusetts and concentrating his energy on raising money and smuggling guns to the Provisional IRA. He has written that Bulger frequently urged him to cut his links to the IRA, saying that it was too great a risk for not enough profit.
However, Nee remained an occasional associate throughout the years and masterminded a 1984 attempt to smuggle seven tons of AK-47 assault rifles to the Provisionals. With Bulger's assistance, the guns were loaded aboard the Valhalla, a fishing trawler from Gloucester, Massachusetts. However, the Irish Government had learned of the scheme via Sean O'Callaghan, a police informant in the IRA's Southern Command. As a result, the cargo was intercepted by a combined force of the Irish Navy and the Garda Síochána. The Valhalla's crew was arrested by U.S. Customs agents immediately after returning to Gloucester.
The failure of that attempt led Bulger to torture and murder John McIntyre, an American member of the Valhalla's crew who had informed on the scheme to U.S. Customs agents and had agreed to wear a wire on Bulger and Nee. Nee has admitted to bringing McIntyre to the South Boston house where Bulger, Stephen Flemmi, and Kevin Weeks were waiting for him. He claims that he believed they were only going to talk to him and that he was disgusted to return later and find the trio about to bury McIntyre's ravaged body in the basement.
Nee fled Boston after being informed by Bulger that Federal agents were looking for him. After several years in hiding, he was arrested in 1987 and served an 18-month sentence in Federal prison.
After his release in 1989, Nee was disgusted by McIntyre's murder and, motivated increasingly by Irish nationalism, he decided to cut his links to Bulger. He put together a crew of his own and began planning Armored car robberies to raise money for the IRA. He was arrested by the FBI during an armored car robbery in Abington, Massachusetts on January 13, 1990. He was sentenced to 37 years in Federal prison, but was released after April 2000.
Patrick Nee currently works as a union laborer in Boston and spends time with his two daughters and his grandchildren. He has done some work in the construction industry since his release.