He grew up poor in the Corona section of Queens, New York. His father died soon after he was born. His mother cleaned houses. When he was 16 and still in high school, he climbed into a car with a a friend of his. The car happened to be stolen. The friend got probation. Whiting got 36 months at Rikers Island Reformatory. "They tricked me into taking a youthful offender," he says. "They took three years of my life."
After he was out for about half a year, he robbed a little store while carrying a gun. He did six years of a 12-year stretch. In prison, he took up engineering and mechanical drawing and got is high-school equivalency.
When he got out of prison, he attended La Guardia Community College, in Queens, and studied business. Never graduated, though. "I didn't have time to study hard, to participate in class between trying to survive, so I would go over there and gather what I could to help me along in life."
Using his drafting and business background, he and a partner started a small contracting firm. Sheetrocking, masonry, painting.
But one of the things that kept getting in the way of his advancement, his says, was the police always getting in his face. "I got a lot of charges but no convictions," he says of his other New York indictments. He blames those problems on police frame-ups and fabrications."
In 1987, he and a group of friends moved to Boston, a city he had visited while on a ski trip. "New York had is out for me," he laughs. He moved here, he says, "to venture on, you know, try out new ideas, 'cause New York definitely wouldn't let me get at it."
In Boston, he and his friends rented a house in Fort Hill. "Six dudes and six females." He says he never lived in Orchard Park, though he did use the 1124 Harrison Avenue address (where a police source says Whiting first set up a base for his alleged Orchard Park drug-dealing operation) as a "reference."
Whiting describes his first community event, the Riverside Park outing last Memorial Day, as a neighborhood-inspired day trip. "A group of us, the dudes from the project, 16-, 17-year-old fellas from the project, they said, 'Man, why don't we go to Riverside Park, you know, we'll rent some cars....' I said, 'Yeah, why don't we rent a bus, this way more of us could go....' And then everybody just put in a little bit, what they could.And yeah, I was a little more important to the project, I put in a little more."
The day was so successful, Whiting says, that other gatherings were planned: barbecues, dances, prizes for honor-roll students on Christmas. A basketball rim for kids at Orchard Park with nothing to do. If for or five kids asked him for new sneakers, he says, he'd get them new pairs from his store. But there were no large-scale giveaways, he says. And motor scooters? "No, I never bought kids no motor scooters."
Whiting says he is motivated to stage his charitable events--like the big Christmas bash at his Crown Hall club where he played Santa and distributed 250 toys free--because it flat-out feels good. "It's what I want, this is what I like to do. This is my pleasure in life, this is what makes me happy...trying to do something constructive for the people. I guess it's in me, it's in my heart. I guess I'm just a humanitarian."