Kevin Kelly was a member of the Westies who joined the gang in the late 1970’s. He worked his way up through the ranks of the gang, starting off as an enforcer and debt collector. He would be used by the older members as muscle to collect their loans. In one instance Kevin kelly and another one of the newer members, Kenny Shannon beat, stripped and tied a man to a tree for missing payments. In another instance Kelly and Jimmy McElroy pistol whipped a man who missed payments and was disparaging the Westies.
When he had made his way up through the ranks of the gang, Kelly was given his own loan sharking operation. By the 1980’s Kevin Kelly was involved in the Westies cocaine running operation in the bars on the Upper East Side of Manhattan.
While Jimmy Coonan was in prison he sent word out through his wife Edna that Vincent Leone was to be killed. Coonan believed that Vincent Leone was skimming money that he was collecting on the piers along the Westside which the gang controlled. Initially the job was given to Mickey Featherstone but he refused, the job was then given to Jimmy McElroy and Kevin Kelly.
In 1984 Vincent Leone, Jimmy McElroy and Kevin Kelly were travelling in Leone’s car in New Jersey. They pulled over, either to do cocaine or because one of them asked him to. When they pulled over Kelly shot Leone six times in the head. Billie Bokun, another gang member picked them both up at a pre-arranged location and drove them to McElroy’s girlfriends apartment, where they cleaned up and changed clothes.
John O’Connor was a Carpenters Local 608 union member who had been causing problems. Apparently he had caused problems on a construction site, allegedly he and some others had broken up some unpaid for work in restaurant that was under Gambino Family protection. Jimmy Coonan was asked to take care of it for the Gambino’s he ordered that John O’Connor be kneecapped. Kevin Kelly waited outside the a building that O’Connor was going into, he then followed O’Connor into the building and shot him, wounding but not killing him.
In what would prove to be the downfall of the Westies, the murder of Michael Holly was their undoing. The Westies had blamed Michael Holly for the death of John Bokun, the brother of Billie Bokun a member of the gang. In 1977 John Bokun and Michael Holly fought outside a bar, Bokun pulled out a gun and shot Michael Holly in the chest. An off duty police officer saw the shooting and pulled out his gun and exchanged fire with John Bokun, fatally shooting him.
Ever since that incident Michael Holly’s cards were marked. Over the years the Westies made plans and aborted them for one reason or the other. Finally in 1985 the decided that it was the right time to get revenge. Kevin Kelly, Kenny Shannon and Billie Bokun planned Holly’s murder. Billie Bokun dressed in disguise, shot and killed Michael Holly in broad daylight on a crowded street.
However the plan didnt go as expected, Billie Bokun had disguised himself to look like Mickey Featherstone. Featherstone would be arrested for Michael Holly’s murder, realizing that he was being set up for the murder, Featherstone testified against members of the gang, all of them received lengthy prison sentences.
Both Kevin Kelly and Kenny Shannon then went on the run and werent tried in court with the rest of the gang. They eventually gave up and handed themselves in and were brought to trial, Kevin Kelly initially received a 50 year sentence with no parole but had it reduced to 40 years with parole.
Kevin Kelly (left) & Anthony Senter – Gambino / DeMeo Crew member (right)