Roger Wheeler (businessman)
Roger Wheeler (February 27, 1926 — May 27, 1981) was an American businessman, the former chairman of Telex Corp. and former owner of World Jai Alai. In 1981, he was murdered at age 55 in his car while preparing to leave Southern Hills Country Club in Tulsa, Oklahoma, following his weekly game of golf.
He was purportedly murdered for uncovering an embezzlement scheme that was going on at his business, World Jai Alai. After retiring from the FBI, H. Paul Rico took a job as head of security for World Jai Alai. He saw the perfect opportunity to set up his former confidential informants Whitey Bulger and Steve Flemmi in a skimming operation there. The Winter Hill Gang skimmed $10,000 per week from the parking lot operation at World Jai Alai.
Upon discovering the thefts, Wheeler investigated; this created major problems for Bulger's group, and led to five or six murders, two of which remain unsolved. When a Bulger underling expressed relief that the emergency was finally over, Bulger replied: "No, it's not over … Roger Wheeler was a multi-millionaire … and he was connected. So dig in … because it's gonna go on for as long as it has to."
On March 14, 2001, three members of the Winter Hill Gang — Bulger, Flemmi and Johnny Martorano — were indicted for Wheeler's murder, with two other alleged conspirators already dead. In a plea bargain, Martorano confessed to some 20 murders by the gang, including Wheeler's. He was given a 15-year sentence, but was released in 2007 after serving only six years. Flemmi also pleaded guilty to the murder of Wheeler and others and is serving a life sentence. Bulger became a fugitive and was on the FBI Ten Most Wanted Fugitives list from August 19, 1999, until his capture on June 22, 2011. In 2003, Rico, the former head of security for World Jai Alai and an associate of Bulger's, was also indicted for Wheeler's murder. He pleaded not guilty and died of natural causes while in custody, before he could be tried.
- "The hit at Southern Hills - golfer Roger Wheeler killed 20 years ago", Dave Kindred, Golf Digest, June 2001
- Department of Justice Press Release
- "Famed crime boss James 'Whitey' Bulger arrested in Santa Monica". Los Angeles Times.
- Whitey Bulger Is Arrested in California
- "Former FBI agent Rico dies in hospital had pleaded not guilty in businessman's slaying", The Boston Globe Obituary, January 18, 2004
- Voices of Oklahoma interview with Detective Mike Huff about his investigation into Whitey Bulgers involvement in the murder of Tulsan Roger Wheeler. First person interview conducted on June 13, 2013 with Detective Mike Huff about his investigation into Whitey Bulgers involvement in the murder of Tulsan Roger Wheeler. Original audio and transcript archived with Voices of Oklahoma oral history project.