'Whitey' Bulger guilty of 11 murders in sweeping Boston mobster case
By Scott Malone, ReutersBOSTON--James “Whitey” Bulger, a brutal gangster who ruled over Boston's criminal underworld in the 1970s and '80s and evaded capture for 16 years, was found guilty of murder and racketeering by a jury on Monday and will likely spend the rest of his life in prison.
August 14, 2013, 12:00 am TWN
The 83-year-old Bulger, dressed in a gray shirt, dark pants and white sneakers, stood quietly as the verdict was read, showing little emotional response to the decision by jurors to convict him after five days of deliberation in Boston federal court. His sentencing was scheduled for Nov. 13.
A legendary figure in Boston's underworld, Bulger ran the “Winter Hill” crime gang after coming to power in a mob war. He cemented his grip on Boston's crime scene through ties with corrupt Federal Bureau of Investigation officials who shared his Irish ethnicity and turned a blind eye to his crimes in exchange for information they could use against the Italian Mafia.
During the two-month-long trial, the 12 jurors heard vivid descriptions of Bulger's crimes. They included brazen daylight shootings of fellow criminals, the terrifying extortion of a victim at whose crotch Bulger aimed a machine gun and how one associate would pull teeth from the mouths of dead victims, hoping to make the bodies harder to identify.
Bulger fled Boston in 1994 after a tip from a corrupt agent that his arrest was imminent. He spent 16 years on the run, many of them on the FBI's “Ten Most Wanted” list along with 9/11 mastermind Osama bin Laden until May 2011 when bin Laden was killed. Agents caught up with Bulger in June 2011, living in a seaside Santa Monica, California apartment.
The jury convicted him of all but one of 32 criminal counts.
“Thirty-one out of thirty-two counts in such a complicated case covering such a long period of time is a fabulous result for the government,” said Michael Kendall, a former federal prosecutor in Boston who is now with the law firm McDermott Will & Emery. “He's going to go to jail for the rest of his life.”
Never Expected Freedom
Defense attorney J.W. Carney told reporters afterward that his client was pleased by the outcome, and noted that Bulger had avoided the death penalty. That would have been a possibility if he had been tried on state charges in Oklahoma or Florida, where two of the murders were committed.
“This trial has never been about Jim Bulger being set free,” he said. Carney said that from the moment FBI officials arrested Bulger, his client knew “he was going to die behind the walls of a prison or on a gurney, getting injected with a chemical that would kill him.”
Bulger's lawyers, who on the first day admitted their client was a drug dealer, extortionist and loan shark and later described him as an “organized criminal,” mounted an atypical defense, rarely directly addressing many of the charges.
Most of their efforts focused on denying prosecutors' assertion that Bulger had served as an FBI informant, or “rat,” for more than a decade. On Monday, Carney called that assertion a “myth.”
Carney said he planned to appeal the conviction, citing a claim by Bulger that he had a deal with federal prosecutors that gave him immunity for his crimes. He reiterated his earlier assertion that Bulger had never been an informant.
Before the trial began, U.S. District Judge Denise Casper had told Carney that he could not argue immunity, saying no deal that allowed a person to commit murder without consequence would be legally valid.