One could make a strong barroom argument that Danny Fournier is the Jake Sawyer of his generation.
Now, before you break that Bud bottle over my head, allow me to acknowledge that no Portlander has attained the outlaw folk-hero status that Sawyer — the Army paratrooper, Hell’s Angel, bodybuilder and bad-ass we profiled in “Jake Sawyer’s Story” — has enjoyed for decades. Sawyer (who begins work this month on a documentary film about his life) has a charisma and flair that Fournier just wasn’t born with. But the traits they have in common far outnumber their differences.
Like Sawyer, Fournier is ultra-violent and utterly fearless, seemingly oblivious to the pressures that keep other men in line, including the prospect of physical pain, incarceration, or social opprobrium. Simply put, Fournier has no fucks to give, and this fact has struck fear in the hearts of local law enforcers for years.
“It’s like a one-man crime wave, and he wasn’t going to stop,” Portland Police Detective Cheryl Holmes said of Fournier in 2002.
“Every time we go after him or see him it turns into a chase,” Portland Police Chief Mike Chitwood told the media that same year. “The fear is if he is cornered or captured, what is it going to be like?”
“He tends to be impulsive and has demonstrated violence in the past,” then Cumberland County Sheriff Mark Dion observed at the time. “He has a pretty extensive rap sheet. He’s a career criminal in the sense he’s a chronic offender.”
Also like Sawyer, Fournier loves a good high-speed chase — he allegedly sped past Westbrook High School doing 75 m.p.h. on one occasion, forcing pursuing cops to slow down and lose him — and has fled the state to live as a fugitive when necessary. The aggravation this caused the local constables has cost the city dearly. On February 12, 2001, two Portland cops chased down a 40-year-old man named Vincent Dorazio and beat and pistol-whipped him. Dorazio sued for over $1 million, the city settled for the unprecedented sum of $600,000, and the federal Department of Justice was called in to examine whether the Portland P.D. had a systemic problem with civil-rights violations.
The incident was a case of mistaken identity: the cops thought Dorazio was Fournier.
Almost a year later, officers from three other agencies — South Portland police, county sheriff’s deputies and federal marshals — made the same mistake and raided Dorazio’s South Portland hotel room looking, in vain, for Fournier, who was wanted on warrants for a slew of offenses, including burglary, theft, assault and terrorizing. Federal marshals finally caught Fournier two months later, in March of 2002, in California. His pickup truck was “boxed in by cruisers and a half-dozen officers with their guns drawn,” according to the Portland Press Herald, which noted that the charges he faced in the Golden State dated back to 1993 and included drunken driving, forgery and writing bad checks.
Fournier and Sawyer both had life-changing childhood experiences that put them on a warpath at a young age. For Fournier, it was crippling leg pain that resulted in extended stays at a Shriners hospital in Massachusetts, beginning when he was five years old. His parents, unable or unwilling to stay in Springfield during his treatment, seldom visited their stricken child, “so I’d be down there for months at a time with nobody,” he recalled. During return visits to Portland, other kids picked on him while he was wheelchair-bound. Released from the Shriners hospital on his eighth birthday, “I got to Portland [and] I threw my fucking crutches,” Fournier recalled.
“When I turned eight years old, I was out for revenge,” he said. “I beat up every kid that ever fucked with me when I was a kid. If I’d run into ’em right now and see one of these guys, I’d smack ’em now. It was a fucked up way of life, but that’s how we grew up.”
These days, people fight on Facebook, not with their fists. In the half century since Fournier was born, Portland’s transformed from a bare-knuckled blue-collar town into a tourism destination where a wisp of cigarette smoke is considered a deadly menace. There’s a lot more beer but a lot less drunken mayhem. Figures like Fournier and Sawyer are like dinosaurs facing extinction because their environment has changed.
“I got a thousand friends — I don’t hear from none of them, so I’m not out trying to get any more,” Fournier told me last month during a lengthy interview in a South Portland hotel room. He and his 21-year-old son, Daniel, were getting ready to go out for dinner. “If we leave here to go in town, who are we gonna go visit? Nobody,” Danny said. “When I used to come out in Kennedy Park, somebody pull up on the corner, first thing we’d do is we’d pull the keys out of the car, say, ‘Are you fuckin’ stupid?’ Flip the car over on him, say, ‘We’re gonna kill everybody in this fucking car!’ And then whistle, and there’d be twenty, thirty people come runnin’ out of the neighborhood.
“It was that good neighborhood that was like that,” he added. “They’re all gone. It’s not like that anymore. The town just sucks.”
Fournier contacted me last month because he’d read “Jake Sawyer’s Story” and was aware of our reporting on the federal case against gambling kingpin Steve Mardigan (“FBI Busts Portland Gambling Kingpin”). Fournier has worked for Mardigan and wanted to share some insights into his business practices. Some of those revelations are shocking, and we’ll get to them in this story, but ultimately what Fournier has to say about Mardigan is less revealing than what his own story says about the city that made him what he is today.
Danny Fournier’s full name is Frank Daniel Fournier Jr. Frank Fournier Sr. was, by his son’s blunt assessment, “a fucking gangster.” The elder Fournier and a tight group of friends — including former Sonny’s Variety owner Sonny Brichetto Sr. — were like the Corleones of Congress Street. “Fireworks, gamblin’, whatever,” Danny said. “They’d been in it forever. Christmastime, truckloads of toys. I mean, these guys were connected.”
Fournier said that when he was three years old, his father, pulling a drunken stunt, put a bunch of money in his crib and handed the toddler a gun, then left the house. “I’m just sittin’ [in the crib] with my father’s pearl-handled .32 long-barrel, loaded, aiming at the squares in the door, and my mother opened the door,” Fournier recalled. She screamed and fetched one of Danny’s uncles, who disarmed the child before any shots were fired. Fournier said that a year later he was accidentally collared by a clothesline and nearly died. “My uncle come out, reached into a barrel of axle grease, took the grease and put it on my neck to stop me from bleeding to death,” he said. “I didn’t cry. I still remember the doctor saying, ‘I can’t believe the kid ain’t cried.’” Fournier’s had a deep rasp in his voice ever since.
“I don’t sugar-coat nothin’: my fuckin’ parents shouldn’t ’a had me,” said Fournier. “I grew up without a mother and father. My mother died when I was fifteen, but in all honesty, I’ve been on the street since I was twelve. She married somebody else and took off, so I got bounced between my mother and father, and she done a lot of shit that fucked my head up, too.”
Like his son, Frank Sr. was not a tall man, but he was an exceptionally strong one, tough as nails and mean as hell. He didn’t do much to keep his son safe, but he relished any opportunity to defend him. For example, Danny said that when he was in traction in the hospital, a male nurse would come in and switch the TV in his room to coverage of Watergate. The hearings were riveting the nation, but not its seven-year-olds. “Finally, one day my father come in … dragged him out into the hallway and kicked the shit out of him, fucked him up real bad.” Cartoon time resumed immediately.
Frank Sr. also taught his son the tricks of his trade. “My father had me writin’ checks when I was fifteen years old … had me bouncin’ checks, doin’ all kinds of shit: fence cars, insurance deals, whatever.”
Then came the fateful day in 1987 when Frank Sr., drunk at a neighborhood bar, got a call that a young man was in his apartment on Munjoy Hill harassing the babysitter. Frank Sr. rushed home, “kicked the door in … and beat the kid half to death,” said Danny. Then someone — quite possibly Frank Sr. — finished the job with a gunshot to the back of the young man’s head, execution-style.
I say “quite possibly” for two reasons. Danny believes another man, a friend of his father’s, pulled the trigger that night. The judge disagreed and sentenced Frank Sr. to 50 years in state prison in 1988. But in 2016, Frank Sr. was freed after it was determined that the FBI likely overstated the conclusiveness of its analysis of hair and blood found in the broken face of the wristwatch worn by the victim, 20-year-old David Mooers. A more accurate analysis may have bolstered the claim, made by Frank Sr.’s lawyer, that Mooers’ hand caused the gun to discharge accidentally. This case was one of thousands of homicide convictions from the 1980s and ’90s that were reviewed at the instigation of the Innocence Project and a national association of defense attorneys.
Frank Sr.’s health was already failing, and he died in April of last year. His namesake still feels conflicted about him. Danny said he’s spent a lot of time and money over the years on his father’s appeals, and still has boxes of documents related to the case. “He’s been in space in my head over this shootin’ incident since 1987,” he said. “I want my father’s name cleared.” But when the courts recently rejected Danny’s bid for a post-mortem pardon, “I’m like, you know what? My father’s a fucking asshole anyways.”
Danny wasn’t in Portland on the night Mooers was killed. He was in the old state prison in Thomaston doing a two-year bid for instigating an assault at a keg party that left five East Deering boys knocked out cold, including the son of a Portland cop. They’d made the mistake of “talking shit” about Danny, who had just turned 18 — a mistake many others would suffer for in similar fashion during the decades to come.
“I ain’t always been legal,” Fournier concedes, with considerable understatement. “I ain’t never raped nobody, I ain’t no child molester, and I ain’t intentionally murdered anybody, but anything less than that…” He paused in contemplation. “I’ve written a couple million dollars’ worth of checks, all over the world; I mean, a horror show.
“I do what I was taught to do,” he added. “The only thing I was ever real good at was fightin’ and fuckin’ drivin’ hotrods fast.”
That’s not entirely true. Fournier is also a professional contractor. He makes a living doing carpentry, light construction, roofing and other odd jobs. During the day, he’s worked with his hands; at night, with his fists.
A couple years after he was captured in California, Fournier got a job as the bouncer at Mathew’s Pub, the dive bar on Free Street, in downtown Portland, owned by Bob Ruminski, who’s been one of Mardigan’s henchmen. Fournier said Ruminski was busy running his landscaping and painting business, and in his absence the bar was going to hell.
“Bunch of drugs in there, bunch of roughnecks, bunch of shitheads,” Fournier recalled. “But I know everybody: good, bad and otherwise. I cleaned the bar up. I didn’t talk to people. I started fuckin’ knockin’ [heads]. You got a problem? You come into my bar, after you know I’m the bouncer in there and I don’t fuck around with drugs and I don’t tolerate it? I don’t care what you do. I know you sell drugs, I know you do drugs — go the fuck across the street and do it. Don’t do it in my bar.
“I come in there one day,” he continued, “this guy’s down there trying to snort some lines [off the toilet seat]. ‘Come here, you motherfucker!’ He’s going, ‘Hey, man, hey, can I get my shit?’ I’m like, ‘Yeah.’ I flipped the toilet seat up and there’s piss all over the floor. The drugs go on the floor. I said, ‘Go ahead, scrape it up now. Get the fuck out of there!’ … Cops would come there ten, fifteen times for me fuckin’ people up real good.”
Much like Sawyer before him, Fournier is a strong believer in street justice. If there’s a problem in his place of business or in his neighborhood, if someone’s threatening a friend or (God forbid) a family member, he’ll take the law in his own hands and let the cops mop up the blood.
In the summer of 2009, Fournier made news again over just this sort of dispute. He claimed that a small group of young men — immigrants or refugees from Africa — had been hassling people on the street in the vicinity of Joe’s Smoke Shop, near a building where he was operating a gym. He racked up two assault charges related to the dispute before tensions peaked that July. “They sent me to jail and said I’m a vigilante, just for being forced to defend everybody,” Fournier told Press Herald crime reporter David Hench.
One day in mid-July, Fournier and one of his employees claimed that the troublemakers had tossed bottles from a fourth-floor window and that one of them had brandished a gun from the window, threatening a teenager. Portland police showed up with assault weapons and riot shields and shut down the block of Congress Street between State and High. They searched the building and briefly detained the young men, but did not find the alleged weapon.
Fournier was infuriated that the cops took so long to arrive and conduct the search — he said the young men had plenty of time to hide or dispose of the gun — and that the men were released without charge. In video uploaded to YouTube by local photographer Tom Couture, Fournier, surrounded by a gaggle of reporters, describes his version of events and makes his intentions clear. “I’m going to jail later on for what’s going to happen here,” he says into the microphones. “I’m out on bail for whacking one of these guys in the first place. … [The police] know I’m goin’ down the other end of town and see ’em here in a minute. You’re gonna get a call here in another minute and they’re gonna take me to jail for what’s gonna happen.”
Fournier’s also done a lot of what you could call freelance enforcement — settling scores, collecting debts, and forcing evictions. He said one of his clients has been major downtown Portland property owner Geoffery Rice. Fournier said he’s done construction work at several of Rice’s properties, including the Schwartz Building at the corner of Congress and High streets (which we profiled in last month’s That’s My Dump! Five Year Reunion) and the Trelawny Building next to Joe’s, where Fournier operated his gym.
“He’s called me up,” Fournier said of Rice (who could not be reached for comment). “Geoffery’s tight-lipped. When he wants to talk about somethin’, [Rice will say] ‘Hey, can you meet me in the parking lot down here? Hey, man, I’m having some problems with these tenants in here and, um, I didn’t know whether you could help me with that.’ I said, ‘I got it covered, Geoffery. Don’t worry about it. Say no more.’ I mean, I knew. I grew up in the old school, I’m pretty fuckin’ sharp, and I got it handled. I went in, I kicked the fuckin’ doors in, smacked the piss out of ’em. Said, ‘Get the fuck out. I ain’t callin’ cops on ya, dude.’ And I wasn’t alone. I had my Kennedy Park crew.”
Fournier said he was approached about five years ago by Sonny Brichetto Jr., who allegedly wanted him to assault and rob a pair of drug dealers from Massachusetts who’d been supplying Brichetto and two other Portland men with upwards of $150,000 worth of oxycodone pills and other hard drugs on a weekly basis. The idea was to wait until the duo made their final delivery, then “whack these guys, or whatever — shoot ’em, do whatever, and take their [money],” Fournier said.
Fournier turned that job down. He’s known Sonny since they were kids and never liked him. And he doesn’t like hard drugs. “My friends buy pot and sell pot,” Fournier told me. “Yeah, I’m into that. I’m not into hard drugs. I never ever saw heroin in my life. Cocaine I have, ’cause my friends have done it, but I’m not into it. As a kid, yeah, I tried it here and there in my twenties a couple times, got in trouble and end up in jail — not because of [cocaine possession] — but I get out and my friends were doing life, the other ones were droppin’ dead. It’s just not somethin’ I’m into.”
As we reported last August [“The Donald Trump of Portland Goes Down: Part II”], Brichetto and several other members of his family were busted in 2012 for operating an oxycodone ring in Portland. Sonny Jr. was convicted of diverting at least 4,800 of his prescription pain pills for illegal sale. In a follow-up story [“Dept. of Corrections,” Oct. 2017], we revealed that Brichetto worked for the Drug Enforcement Agency and the FBI the following year — before he served a two-year prison sentence — attempting to ensnare other drug dealers and “subjects of illegal gambling investigations” by making recorded phone calls at the federal agents’ direction.
Reached by phone last month, Brichetto denied selling drugs provided by the pair from Massachusetts or any other illicit source. “I can honestly say I never bought a pill,” he said. “Why don’t you look into Danny’s past?” Brichetto suggested The Bollard pay to have polygraph tests done on Fournier and himself, and asked if this publication was paying Fournier for his story (we are not). Growing agitated as the brief conversation continued, he said, “I’m only gonna take so much, then I’m gonna come back at you.” Asked what he meant by that threat, Brichetto told me he would complain to my “boss” (I informed him that I am the boss). He also questioned The Bollard’s account of his cooperation with federal agents, despite the fact that information was obtained from public court records.
In contrast, details in Fournier’s account of the Massachusetts connection are confirmed by both court records and published news reports. For example, he identified one of the three local drug pushers as Justin Cram, who was arrested in June of 2011 for possession of heroin, cocaine and oxycodone pills in the specific dosage (30mg) that Fournier said the Bay State men were selling.
“Sonny was gettin’ fifty thousand [dollars’] worth of 30s every week,” said Fournier, who said the other two were buying a similar amount. “So they didn’t just sell a couple pills. They flooded this fuckin’ city like it ain’t never seen, and [Sonny] got [only] two years in jail?”
Fournier’s cynicism about the criminal justice system is well founded. It’s hard to have respect for authority when you’re repeatedly exposed to its corruption, and harder still when its abuses and errors impact you personally. Watching the President of the United States resign under a cloud of criminality was just the beginning. In Fournier’s experience, the police are as brutal as the gangsters, the FBI lies, and the real criminals get off with a slap on the wrist, assuming they’re punished at all.
In the absence of real justice, the rough justice of the street fills the void, delivered by people like Danny Fournier.
In our article last August we mentioned the incident in 2010 when a large rock was dropped through the windshield of Sonny Jr.’s Cadillac after he closed his family’s store, Sonny’s Variety, for the night. Fournier is not claiming to have been the perpetrator of that crime, but he knows an awful lot of awful details about it.
“The night the rock got dropped through Sonny’s windshield, let’s just say some unknown source was sittin’ across the street ready to blow his head off,” Fournier told me. A teenage boy who worked at the store came out with Sonny that night, so the would-be assassin changed plans and took up a position near the intersection of St. John Street and Park Avenue. The man knew Sonny lived in Westbrook and would have to pass under the old railroad trestle to get home, so he climbed up there and waited.
“That rock? I’ll show you how big that fuckin’ rock was,” said Fournier. Contrary to the news report, it was considerably larger than a football and much heavier — maybe 80 or 90 pounds. Sonny was stopped at the intersection. “The light turns green, he didn’t start movin’,” said Fournier. “What’s he see the guy up on the bridge? All of a sudden — he was fuckin’ with his phone or whatever, and he got done — he starts proceeding forward. Thousand one, thousand two” — Fournier made a swooshing sound — “bang! Right through the thing.
“Well, the person was under the impression that [Sonny] was dead and that he ended up going to the hospital over it,” he continued. “From reading your [article], it said he didn’t go to the hospital. I was told it busted the steering wheel off and scraped his stomach. So I guess they shoulda counted him a thousand three-and-a-half.”
“The moral of the story here: nobody was trying to scare Sonny Brichetto,” Fournier said. “He run his mouth about some people in this town that weren’t rats, and started talking shit about ’em, and somebody had made a decision that maybe they oughta rid society of that piece of shit and all his pushin’ drugs and … everything he did, and they gave it a hell of a whirl. Cops didn’t even think twice about investigating it. They didn’t give a fuck. A lot of the good cops, the good detectives in this town, hate [Sonny], because he was a rat. You know, they’ll use him up — it’s part of the process, they get their information from these guys — but they don’t respect him. They respect me.”
Brichetto told me last month that he did not leave the store in the company of a teenager that night. He said he doesn’t believe he was targeted, and said it was reported that the assailant had tried to drop rocks on other motorists. In fact, the article about the incident makes no such claim.
Who ordered the hit on Sonny? “The meteor fell out of the sky after Mardigan said he wanted it done,” Fournier told me. “No, he never reached into his pocket and actually handed anybody money to have it done. Yes, he did solicit it.”
According to Fournier, “Mardigan was after Sonny for money. Sonny knew Mardigan wanted to fuck him up, because Bobby [Ruminski, one of Sonny’s cousins] told Sonny. Bobby played both sides.” (Ruminski could not be reached for comment; he did not answer his cell phone and his voicemail was full. He has previously told The Bollard he doesn’t want to discuss his relationships with Mardigan and Brichetto.)
“What do I have to do with Mardigan?” Sonny said to me last month. “My father dealt with Mardigan, not me. I don’t know anything.”
Mardigan bought the Congress Street building that had been home to Sonny’s Variety for decades in 2013 — for a sum well below its market value. Sonny’s father, “Big Sonny,” who died last year, owned the property, but his namesake had been operating the business for years, including the illegal gambling operation in the basement. Fournier said Sonny’s knowledge that Mardigan wanted to harm him was a contributing factor in Sonny’s decision to assist the FBI in its investigation of illegal gambling operations in Portland. The federal government has since moved to seize all the property Mardigan owns in Portland, Cape Elizabeth, and other Maine towns; the combined value of those holdings could reach or exceed $20 million.
In recent years, Fournier has worked on Mardigan’s apartment buildings on Chestnut Street, in Portland’s Bayside neighborhood, which the city leases to provide shelter to homeless individuals and families. Fournier said Ruminski, his employer at Mathew’s until 2014, enlisted him to help rehab the properties, but was all too willing to cut him loose when Mardigan made baseless complaints about his work performance. “I got fucked on money, I got fucked on equipment, rental fees and all this other stuff,” Fournier said. “Bobby never did or said anything about it. He let me get fucked — right before Christmas” of 2016.
“Bobby is a good guy, he really is — when you’re doin’ somethin’ that benefits him,” Fournier added. “When I stopped doing stuff that benefits him, I don’t hear from him, not at all.”
Fournier said that before Mardigan had him fired, he’d asked Fournier about “taking care of that shit with Sonny.”
“I’m like, ‘Dude, listen, he’s a fuckin’ rat, OK? That’s Bobby’s fuckin’ family, OK?’” said Fournier. “I said, ‘Bobby knows damn well the guy’s a fuckin’ cheese-eatin’ rat. Whadya think, you’re gonna go down there and yell at him and he’s gonna give you some money? No.’”
Fournier also claims that Mardigan expressed a desire to have someone intimidate the neighbors of three vacant, yet fully furnished, ocean-side homes that Mardigan owns in Cape Elizabeth — neighbors with whom he’s had disputes in recent years. “He didn’t just say, ‘Hey, take care of it,’” said Fournier. “He just said that he’d been having some problems with some of these neighbors out here, and he’d like to have somebody go out there and fuckin’ cause some problems for them, shut their mouths and shit. I never did. … What the fuck do you want me to do, go fuckin’ burn somebody’s four-million-dollar fuckin’ house down ’cause they’re complaining about Mardigan workin’ all night, runnin’ trucks and all this other shit?”
Then Fournier dropped another bomb: “There’s money buried out there.”
“You think so?” I asked.
“Listen, I know,” he replied. “My friend was there when they buried it. One of Bobby’s guys buried it. They didn’t want me around because they know I’d go back and dig it out, I’d take the fuckin’ thing. It’s on the lawn.”
Last April, federal agents raided Mardigan’s residence in Portland’s Back Cove neighborhood and seized over $140,000 in cash; another half million dollars was seized from a safety deposit box belonging to Mardigan’s longtime girlfriend, Patricia Nixon. Including luxury watches and other funds, the Feds’ take amounted to nearly $750,000.
Mardigan has refused to speak to The Bollard about these matters. Last August he attempted, unsuccessfully, to have me removed from a county courthouse by claiming that my attempts to speak to him, and our coverage of this case, amounted to harassment.
Look back in anger
It’s been nearly nine months since that Back Cove raid and Mardigan is still a free man, driving up and down Forest Avenue to collect rent from his numerous commercial tenants, including several large-scale marijuana growers who rent some of his dumpier properties. Most observers I’ve spoken with are confounded by this situation. How can he still be out and about doing business? Is he going to get off scot-free? Is he cooperating with prosecutors in exchange for his freedom?
The Feds, of course, aren’t talking. But Fournier is.
“The Feds are good,” Fournier told me, “but then there’s only limited resources, and the people that provide the information — they’re either in trouble, they’re drug addicts, or snitches, so they only have knowledge of bits and pieces. They don’t have the intricate fuckin’ web. They haven’t sat at the table playin’ cards with these guys, listenin’ to the shit for thirty, forty fuckin’ years.” He could’ve added: like I have.
“Everything’s like a pyramid here, and [Mardigan’s] the top,” according to Fournier. “You got all the other bookies — there’s a lot of bookies around town, they all go to him. Card games, they all go to him.
“There’s not many guys you can call up and put a ten-thousand-dollar bet in around here,” he continued. “There’s a couple of ’em, and they’re tied in with [Mardigan]. People don’t call him up and say, ‘Hey, man, I want to put two hundred on this or I want to put four hundred’ — they call these other guys up.” The lower-level bookies “call in [to Mardigan] later on and say, ‘Hey, listen, I got thirty grand on fuckin’ New England. I got another this and that.’ They got the action. Mardigan don’t need to call anybody else. He had the money.”
I asked Fournier about rumors that Mardigan has also been involved in drug trafficking. “No,” he said. “If he was, I’d have heard it.”
What about ties to organized crime in Boston or Providence? I asked. “No, hell no,” Fournier told me. “Why share? He’s the top. There’s nobody above Steve. Steve is the top. … There’s no Mafia up here. Are there people that are connected to people that are in it? Yeah, oh yeah.”
At 51, Fournier now finds himself at a crossroads where the crooked path meets the straight and narrow. “I done a lot of shit that, like I said, I wouldn’t do it now, but I own it,” he told me. “Listen, the truth is the truth. You either accept me and like me for who I am now, today, or you don’t. I really don’t give a fuck.
“I’ve had a life,” he continued. “If somebody pulled out a half a million dollars in front of me and said, ‘Hey, go kill that motherfucker,’ I’d say, ‘How many holes you want in him?’ It’s reality.” Then he paused and added, “I mean, for the right person, not some innocent guy. Somebody like Sonny or somethin’?” He laughed, a dry cackle. “Shit, I’d fuckin’ whack him for free.”
“I grew up in a barroom,” said Fournier. “[My father] was having me go out and do shit when I was a kid for him. My kid ain’t like that. He don’t even go out and get in fights. He’s a fuckin’ great kid. He’s nothin’ at all [like I was] and that’s by design. … I don’t want my son goin’ out fightin’. I didn’t want anybody [saying], ‘You Danny Fournier’s kid? You tough like him? You do this, you do that?’ No, no. That’s Daniel Fournier. That’s not Frank Jr., that’s not Frank the Third, that’s Daniel Fournier. He’s his own person, he has his own life.
“Since him and his sister were born, I changed my life, I straightened the fuck out,” Fournier continued. (His daughter was born in 2010.) Fournier, who’s single, told me last month that he wants to move back to California or Florida after the holidays. “There’s just nothing here, other than the work connections that I’ve had all my life and shit,” he said. “It’s just like Jake. He get the fuck outta here. He come back here now because he’s old and knows people, but it’s not the same. And that’s why he can live a nice, easy, calm life — it’s not like it was when we were growing up. It just isn’t. There was a lot of good things about the ’70s and ’80s too, and being in the Portland area and knowing everybody, but now…” he trailed off, lost in thought.
A few days after our meeting at the South Portland hotel, I called Fournier to check some facts and asked him again about his travel plans. He said he still intends to leave the state after he sells a piece of property, but he also thinks he’ll return to Portland before too long.
“This town ain’t seen the last of me,” he vowed. And I believe him.