Whitey Bulger's ex-gang member speaks out

Posted at 5:40 PM, Sep 18, 2015
and last updated 2015-09-18 19:40:34-04

As the story of Boston mob boss James "Whitey" Bulger hits theaters Friday, a Denver man is sharing his memories about the five years he spent in the gang. 

Eric Schneider moved to Colorado after testifying against his former partners, sending some to prison. The witness protection program gave him his new alias when he relocated. 

Bulger eluded police for years before he was convicted in 2013 of 11 murders he committed or ordered in the 1970s and '80s. 

Once America's most wanted man, he's now serving two life sentences. 

"The man was a monster. That's the bottom line," said Schneider. "I don't want anybody to take this as 'Goodfellas' and get it glamorized. The man was a horrific man who did horrid things."

7NEWS anchor Anne McNamara spoke to Schneider ahead of the 'Black Mass' release. Schneider said no one can play Whitey accurately, but, from what he's seen in the trailer, Johnny Depp comes close.

"I'm really, really, really looking forward to seeing what Johnny Depp can do with his role with Whitey."

Schneider met with Whitey at least 50 times between 1986 and 1991. He remembers Bulger's "Winter Hill gang" had a Robin Hood reputation on the streets of South Boston. 

"When you could kill someone at noon time at an intersection and all you had to do was say, 'Shhh...' just do that and everyone knew," said Schneider. "There wouldn't be a witness. Fifty people around and no witness to the murder."

Schneider said he suffered abuse as a child and the mental anguish led him to organized crime. He wrote a book titled "The Choir Boy" to share his story with others who may be struggling. 

Schneider said 'Black Mass' is more than a Hollywood tale on the big screen. It's a reality he's been trying to escape for decades. 

"Not something I remotely look back on fondly in my life. I'm doing everything I can at this point, and have been for some time, to turn my life around," he said.

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