With the arrests of Jimmy Coonan and his wife Edna, Billy Bokun, Mugsy Ritter, Flo & Tommy Collins and Johnny Halo in November and December 1986, Jimmy “Jimmy Mac” McElroy went on the run but was soon arrested, Kevin Kelly & Kenny Shannon also went on the run but despite a nationwide manhunt neither could be found which lead some to believe that they had either been killed or that they had fled to Ireland.

Despite the nationwide manhunt, the TV show America’s Most Wanted were going to run a piece on them, they both mysteriously turned up at the U.S Attorney’s office to turn themselves in, after almost two years on the run. They never actually said where they had been while on the run, they were both tanned so you can rule them out of hiding in Ireland, the only thing they would say, through their lawyer was “Its tough being on the run” & “They wanted to see their families”

The gang had been tearing itself apart and Featherstone had been feeling a bit bitter and resentful at the fact that after all his loyalty to Jimmy Coonan, his place in the gang had been brushed aside and passed on to the younger members, Kevin Kelly in particular. But what sealed Featherstone’s and The Westie’s fate was that the gang had planned to pin a murder on him, to try get him out of the way.

A plan had been put in place to kill James Holly, a construction worker who had killed John Bokun, the brother of Billy Bokun, the gang had decided to take revenge and pin it on Featherstone. The shooter in this hit was Billy Bokun who was similar in height and weight to Featherstone and also wore a wig which was similar in color to Featherstone’s hair color. Unusually for a hit, they made sure there was witnesses. On April 25, 1985, as Holly was walking down 35th Street near 11th Avenue, a man stepped out of a brown station wagon, screwed a silencer onto a gun and fired five shots at him.

Witnesses described the killer as short and slight, with light-colored hair. The driver of a dry-cleaning van described the sequence of events, and identified Featherstone as the killer. The getaway car was quickly traced to Erie Transfer, the theatrical trucking company where Featherstone, who was making something of an effort to live a normal life, occasionally worked. When the police arrived at Erie several hours later, they found the car, its engine still warm. As they were interviewing employees, Mickey Featherstone walked right into their midst – short, slight and light-haired. The evidence seemed overwhelming, and the next day Featherstone was booked. In March 1986, Featherstone was found guilty, and faced a sentence of 25 years to life.

It was the end of the Westies, Featherstone had previously been charged and acquitted of three murders he did actually commit but found guilty of the one he didnt. Mickey Featherstone and his wife Sissy had decided they wanted out and turned states witness, testifying against his former friends. Sissy had been secretly recording conversations with Kevin Kelly, Kenny Shannon and Billy Bokun when they came around to the Featherstones house to give Sissy money to support herself. She would start conversations trying to get them to talk in order to prove that Featherstone was innocent, she was able to record Billy Bokun actually admit he was the killer of James Holly and recorded Kevin Kelly admit his part in the set up of Featherstone. It was enough to get Featherstone off his sentence in return for his testimony.

In a four-month trial, the prosecution portrayed the gang as committing crimes including murder, drug dealing, loan sharking, gambling and tax evasion. It would also see a string of gang members turn on their former friends too, Jimmy McElroy, Billy Beatie and Tony Lucich being the main ones

Jimmy Coonan was sentenced to 75 years in prison on racketeering charges, including seven murders and other crimes. His wife Edna was given 15 years. Billy Bokun, was convicted of the murder of James Holly and was given 50 years, Jimmy McElroy was sentenced to 60 years and three other members received prison sentences between 6 months and a few years.

Kevin Kelly who had been a more prominent member of the gang had taken over the day to day operations of the gang and relaying orders from Jimmy Coonan from his home in New Jersey, was actually acquitted of the murder of James Holly despite the jury hearing recordings of him made by Sissy Featherstone. Kevin Kelly however was charged and found guilty for the 1984 murder of a Gambino Family associate, Vincent Leone, who tried to cheat the Westies and the Gambinos out of $30,000 in sports betting proceeds. He was also charged with the attempted murder of John O’Connor, O’Connor was shot in the buttocks outside a West Side union headquarters on May 7, 1986, as a favor to reputed Gambino Boss John Gotti, after O’Connor and his friends destroyed a restaurant that wouldnt pay union fee’s.

Kelly seems to be very well respected within Mafia circles, he became good friends with Anthony Senter of the DeMeo Crew and has been photogrphed in prison with other mobsters including Mickey Boy Paradiso, the recently deceased Colombo Family boss Carmine “The Snake” Persico, members of the Philly Mob and more.

Featherstone would also give evidence in the trial against the DeMeo Crew which would see Anthony Senter & Joey Testa put away for life. He is still in the witness protection program, there has been talk for a long time of a movie based on his life with the title of The Emerald City.

Sources:
The Westies – T.J. English
https://www.nytimes.com/
https://www.nytimes.com
https://www.upi.com/

Owen Forsyth

Web Designer, Teacher, Artist, Writer, 3D & Visual Effects, DJ

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