BOSTON (TheBlaze/AP) — James "Whitey" Bulger, the feared Boston mob boss who became one of the nation's most-wanted fugitives, was convicted Monday in a string of 11 killings and other gangland crimes, many of them committed while he was said to be an FBI informant.
Bulger, 83, showed no reaction upon hearing the verdict, which brought to a close a case that not only transfixed the city with its grisly violence but exposed corruption inside the Boston FBI and an overly cozy relationship between the bureau and its underworld snitches.
In this courtroom sketch, James "Whitey" Bulger listens to defense attorney, Hank Brennan, during closing arguments at U.S. District Court, in Boston, Monday, Aug. 5, 2013. Bulger's lawyers used their closing arguments to go after three gangsters who took the stand against the reputed Boston crime boss, portraying them as pathological liars whose testimony was bought and paid for by prosecutors. (Photo: AP/Jane Flavell Collins)
Bulger was charged primarily with racketeering, a catchall offense that listed 33 criminal acts - among them, 19 murders that he allegedly helped orchestrate or carried out himself during the 1970s and '80s while he led the Winter Hill Gang, Boston's ruthless Irish mob. The racketeering charge also included acts of extortion, money-laundering and drug dealing.
The jury had to find he committed only two of those acts to convict him of racketeering. After more than four days of deliberations, it decided he took part in 11 of those murders, along with nearly all of the other crimes.
Watch the reactions of some of the family members of victims upon hearing the verdict.
Tommy Donahue, whose father was murdered, said it was "overwhelming":
Patricia Donahue, Tommy's mother, whose husband Michael was killed:
Brother of victim Debra Davis spoke of Bulger's selfishness:
During the two-month trial, prosecution witnesses portrayed Bulger as a hands-on crime boss who killed some of the gang's targets himself and orchestrated other killings. One of the witnesses for the trial was also killed from cyanide poisoning before testifying.
Defense attorneys J.W. Carney Jr. , second from right, and Henry Brennan, right, speak with reporters outside federal court in Boston, Thursday, Aug. 8, 2013. Jurors in the racketeering trial of reputed mobster James "Whitey" Bulger deliberated for a third day Thursday without reaching a verdict. (Photo: AP/Michael Dwyer)
Bulger could get life in prison. But given his age, even a modest term could amount to a life sentence for the slightly stooped, white-bearded Bulger.
Defense lawyers say three once-loyal Bulger cohorts got reduced prison terms in exchange for testifying against Bulger.
Earlier, Bulger said he'll forfeit the guns and $822,000 in cash that officials found in his California apartment, but he wants to keep one thing: a Stanley Cup ring.
In a document filed last week and signed by Bulger, the 83-year-old said the ring commemorating the NHL championship series was a gift from an unnamed "third party."
Because it was a gift, it's not among assets directly acquired from Bulger's alleged crimes that the government is trying to force him to forfeit, such as the wads of cash found hidden in his apartment's walls. And in the document Bulger said he doesn't want to give the ring up.
"The defendant elects to have the forfeitability of this specific property decided by the court," the document reads.
The court document gave no details about the ring or who gave it to him.
Even if the court decides Bulger doesn't have to forfeit the ring, the government could later seek to keep it as it pursues Bulger assets unrelated to his alleged crimes. The US attorney's office has said it wants to return as much as possible to Bulger's innocent victims.
Bulger fled Boston in 1994 on the eve of an indictment and was one of the nation's most-wanted fugitives until his capture. He was arrested in Santa Monica, Calif., in 2011 after 16 years on the run.
This undated photo filed in federal court documents in Boston by defense attorneys for James "Whitey" Bulger on Wednesday, July 31, 2013, shows Bulger with holding a goat in an unknown location. The photo was among several that showed a softer side of Bulger, which prosecutors complained were an attempt to salvage his reputation. Bulger, 83, is charged in a racketeering indictment with playing a role in 19 killings and multiple extortions during the 1970s and 80s when he alleged led the Winter Hill Gang. (Photo: AP/Federal Court Documents)
A jury at U.S. District Court in Boston on Monday began it its fifth day of deliberations on a 32-count racketeering indictment that includes 19 killings.
Prosecutors said Bulger was a longtime FBI informant who was protected by corrupt FBI agents. Bulger's lawyers deny that he was an informant and said he paid FBI agents to get information about wiretaps and investigations so he and his cohorts could stay one step ahead of the law.
Within the main racketeering charge against Bulger were 33 separate criminal acts, including all of the killings.
The jury heard testimony from 72 witnesses and saw 840 exhibits during the two-month trial.
This undated black and white photo filed in federal court documents in Boston by defense attorneys for James "Whitey" Bulger on Wednesday, July 31, 2013, shows Bulger in an unknown location. The photo was among several that showed a softer side of Bulger, which prosecutors complained were an attempt to salvage his reputation. Bulger, 83, is charged in a racketeering indictment with playing a role in 19 killings and multiple extortions during the 1970s and 80s when he alleged led the Winter Hill Gang. (Photo: AP/Federal Court Documents)
In their first hour of deliberations Monday, the jurors asked that if they find a person named in the indictment guilty of a crime, are they to "automatically" find Bulger guilty as well?
In her response, U.S. District Judge Denise Casper said jurors they must find Bulger guilty separately.
But she stressed portions of her earlier jury instructions that explained that even if a defendant didn't commit the actual murder, he's still guilty under the racketeering statute if he knowingly participated in the murder "by counseling, hiring, or otherwise procuring such felony to be committed."