On the lam from federal law enforcement for 16 years, James “Whitey” Bulger is finally facing charges from his years of organized crime in Boston.
Whitey is accused of no less than 19 counts of homicide, masterminding numerous conspiracies, money laundering, and extortion to boot. In one of the alleged murders, a man was shot so many times his torso was nearly severed from his legs. The 82-year-old Bulger has led a fascinating life of crime, including serving time on Alcatraz from 1959-1962 for robbery and hijacking.
In the 1950′s, Whitey was also allegedly given LSD and other drugs as part of a government experiment. Whitey got out in the early 1970s and rose to power in Boston’s criminal underground, allegedly running shakedowns from drug trafficking to loansharking.
Whitey is facing 48 charges, including 19 counts of murder, extortion, money laundering, obstruction of justice, perjury, narcotics distribution and weapons violations. He was arraigned on July 6, 2011, and trial is scheduled for November 5, 2012.
After 16 years on the lam, James “Whitey” Bulger was arrested in Santa Monica, California without fanfare. A multi-agency law enforcement task force, led by the FBI and assisted by the Los Angeles Police Department, escorted Whitey from his Santa Monica apartment and arrested and transported him to federal custody. Whitey, a man in his eighties, was calm and cooperative.
The scene of the quiet arrest could not have been more different from the outrageous life the former Boston Mafia boss once led. It is alleged that for years, Whitey ruled the Boston streets, drug trafficking through south Boston and running shakedowns throughout eastern Massachusetts, from bookmaking to loansharking, arms trafficking to extortion. The crimes committed on his watch are legendary — in one of alleged murder, a man was shot so many times his torso was nearly severed from his legs.
To avoid an indictment, Whitey provided information to the FBI for years, and in 1994, an FBI agent returned the favor and told Whitey that he was going to be arrested for federal racketeering crimes, including 19 homicides spanning the period of his influence in organized crime – the early 1970s to the mid-1980s. Whitey took the tip, fled and was able to evade arrest while the FBI launched an international search for him.
Whitey was on the FBI’s 10 most wanted fugitive list, and the agency had offered a $2-million reward for his arrest. A reliable tip put Whitey in Santa Monica. The task force set up surveillance, and on June 22, 2011, they found and arrested their man.
When they found Whitey, he was living with his longtime companion, Catherine Greig, in a modest Santa Monica home with over $800,000 and 30 weapons stashed at the house.
Whitey was soon extradited into federal custody in Massachusetts, where he is currently awaiting trial. As federal prosecutors prepare for trial, they permitted the public release of photographs depicting what investigators found inside Bulger’s serene little Santa Monica home. The photographs show guns by the dozen and more than $2 million in cash.
The FBI found some oddities in the house as well, including newspaper clippings of “Whitey Sightings” that Whitey apparently curated, many paperback novels about mob life and 100 handwritten pages of Whitey’s autobiography (we would love to get our hands on that!).
James “Whitey” Bulger – The 82-year-old Bulger has led a fascinating life that reads like a 20th-century crime museum. He served time on Alcatraz from 1959-1962 for robbery and hijacking. During his incarceration in the 1950’s, Whitey was also given LSD and other drugs as part of government experiments.
Whitey got out in the early 1970s and rose to power in Boston’s criminal underground, allegedly running shakedowns from drug trafficking to loansharking.
Catherine Greig – Whitey’s companion (his “moll” for you gangster-aficionados) during his fugitive years, Greig was also arrested and charged with harboring a fugitive.
As a part of a plea agreement, Greig pleaded guilty to conspiracy to harbor a fugitive, identity fraud and conspiracy to commit identity fraud.
Although the probation office recommended that Greig serve 33 months in federal prison for her crimes, the prosecutor argued stridently for the top end of what is permitted by the federal sentencing guidelines, 10 years. In the end, Greig was sentenced to 8 years in federal prison, an extremely tough sentence for the crime. She is planning to appeal the sentence.
However, in one respect Greig came out on top: There is no requirement that Greig testify against Whitey as a part of the plea deal, but prosecutors may still choose to call her as a witness.
J.W. Carney Jr. – Whitey’s defense lawyer in Massachusetts, Carney Jr. has said it would take his law firm at least a year to go through more than 500,000 documents and nearly 1,000 tapes prosecutors have turned over to the defense.
Brian Kelly – The Assistant United States Attorney prosecuting Whitey who is quoted as saying it appears that the 82-year-old Bulger is trying to “run out the clock” to avoid trial altogether.
A Look At The 19 Murder Victims In Bulger Trial
The jury concluded that prosecutors proved that James “Whitey” Bulger was involved in 11 murders, didn’t prove his involvement in seven murders and couldn’t agree on one killing.
—Paul McGonagle, 1974, rival gang member, shot in the back seat of a car.
—Edward Connors, 1975, witnessed O’Toole’s killing, shot because Bulger’s gang feared he would talk.
—Thomas King, 1975, rival gangster shot in back of the head, buried under the Neponset River Bridge in Quincy.
—Richard Castucci, 1976, nightclub owner, killed because Bulger believed he was an informant.
—Roger Wheeler, 1981, Owner of World Jai Alai, suspected Bulger’s group of skimming money from the business, shot in between the eyes at a Tulsa, Okla., country club. Martorano testified that he did the shooting.
—Brian Halloran, 1982, An FBI informant who was talking to the FBI about Bulger’s involvement in Wheeler’s killing, shot in a hail of gunfire as he left a South Boston restaurant. Bulger is accused of being one of two triggermen.
—Michael Donahue, 1982, a neighbor of Halloran’s who offered to give him a ride home, killed when Bulger and another man opened fire on Donahue’s car.
—John Callahan, 1982, former president of World Jai Alai. Bulger feared he wouldn’t hold up in questioned in Wheeler’s death. Ex-hit man John Mortorano, a close friend of Callahan’s, testified that he shot Callahan in the back of the head.
—Arthur “Bucky” Barrett, 1983, alleged jewel thief and bank robber. Bulger chained him to a chair, got him to tell him where he had cash hidden, then shot him in the head.
—John McIntyre, 1984, Quincy fisherman, Bulger chained him to a chair and interrogated him about whether he was talking to authorities. Bulger is accused of shooting him in the head.
—Deborah Hussey, 1985, daughter of Flemmi’s longtime live-in girlfriend, Marion Hussey. Flemmi testified that Bulger strangled her because she was using drugs and dropping their names when she got in trouble.
—Michael Milano, 1973, a bartender killed in a hail of gunfire, had a similar Mercedes-Benz and was mistaken for the target of the shooting, Al “Indian Al” Notarangeli. Former hit man John Martorano testified that he shot Milano in a case of mistaken identity.
—Al Plummer, 1973, member of a rival gang, killed as he drove in Boston’s North End. Martorano testified that he killed Plummer by mistake as the gang tried to kill Notarangeli.
—William O’Brien, 1973, member of a rival gang, killed in a hail of gunfire as he drove in South Boston.
—James “Spike” O’Toole, 1973, shot to death as he stood behind a mailbox because he had shot and wounded the brother of Flemmi’s partner, Stephen “The Rifleman” Flemmi.
—Al “Indian Al” Notarangeli, 1974, rival gang leader, shot to death after several failed attempts.
—James Sousa, 1974, participated with Bulger in a botched robbery of a dentist, was killed because Bulger worried he would talk.
—Francis “Buddy” Leonard, 1975, friend of King’s, shot in head. Bulger then told people that King had killed Leonard.
—Debra Davis, 1981, Flemmi’s girlfriend, strangled. Flemmi testified that Bulger strangled her because she knew they were both FBI informants. Bulger’s lawyer said Flemmi had a stronger motive to kill her because she was leaving him for another man.
Rundown Of Likely Key Witnesses In Bulger Trial
BOSTON (AP) — Here are some of the key witnesses expected to testify at the racketeering trial of reputed gangster James “Whitey” Bulger, according to witness lists and statements made by prosecutors and Bulger’s attorneys.
Stephen “The Rifleman” Flemmi – Bulger’s former partner in the Winter Hill Gang, who pleaded guilty in 10 murders and is serving a life sentence.
John Martorano – former hit man who admitted killing 20 people and was sentenced to 14 years in prison.
Kevin Weeks – Former Bulger lieutenant who pleaded guilty to racketeering charges and served five years in prison.
James “Whitey” Bulger – The now convicted gangster opted not to testify.
Robert Mueller – FBI Director Robert Mueller, who worked as a federal prosecutor in Boston in the 1980s.
William Weld – William Weld, former Massachusetts governor, U.S. attorney for Massachusetts from 1981-86, when Bulger claims federal prosecutor Jeremiah O’Sullivan, now deceased, gave him immunity.
Richard Stearns – U.S. District Judge Richard Stearns, who worked as a federal prosecutor in Boston during the time when Bulger says he had immunity from O’Sullivan. Bulger’s lawyers successfully argued to a federal appeals court that Stearns should be removed from presiding at Bulger’s trial because of the potential for an appearance of conflict of interest.
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November 14, 2013: At 84 years old, James “Whitey” Bulger will spend his remaining days as a guest of the United States Bureau of Prisons. Sentenced to two lifetime prison sentences — plus an additional five years on top of that — for his lifetime of crime “unfathomable acts conducted in unfathomable ways,” as described by Judge Denise J. Casper.
Bulger was convicted in August of a laundry list of gangster crimes, including 11 murders and 31 other counts including extortion, drug trafficking, racketeering and money laundering.
In a blistering opinion from the bench, Casper told Bulger that the “scope, callousness and breadth of your crimes are almost unfathomable.”
Bulger was further ordered to pay nearly $20 million to the families of his victims and to forfeit an additional $52 million to the government. It’s unclear if he actually has that kind of money.
There’s nothing surprising about this sentence, given the severity of Bulger’s crimes and conviction. From the moment Bulger was arrested, everyone involved knew he would be spending the rest of his life in custody. He was simply too big, too involved in some of the worst criminal behavior Boston has ever seen, to prevail on any defense theory.
Bulger’s proffered theory, that he had immunity and a “license to kill” from the FBI because he was working with the Bureau as an informant, was never presented at his trial. The court refused to hear the defense, and Bulger denounced the trial as a sham and refused to testify. Instead, his defense lawyer attempted to discredit prosecution witnesses and make the case that corruption within the FBI lead to the gangland murders.
Bulger will almost certainly attempt to raise the immunity issues on appeal, but first he needs to get past potential homicide prosecutions in Florida and in Oklahoma, both states which use the death penalty, unlike Massachusetts.
Pre-Trial: Probably the biggest obstacle facing the prosecution is Whitey’s age and infirmity. When he was arrested, he seemed in ill health, and at age 82 in a uniquely stressful situation, it’s possible he might not outlive the case against him.
The prosecution should have no problem proving their case, however. They have supplied Whitey’s defense lawyers with documents and recordings so voluminous defense counsel told the court that it would take him over a year to review it all. Sworn statements from informants will also be crucial in proving that Whitey was responsible for these crimes, many of which are now 20 years old.
It’s clear from the stiff sentence handed down to Catherine Greig, Whitey’s girlfriend, that everyone involved in this case is playing for keeps. If Whitey were found guilty of even a single one of the charges pending against him, he would be looking at a life sentence at his age. Even so, it’s apparent that no one will be cutting him a break based on his age and health.