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Mob boss James ‘Whitey’ Bulger guilty of racketeering, multiple murders
Question of the Day
But overall, the defense barely contested many of the charges against Bulger. In fact, Bulger’s lawyers conceded he ran a criminal enterprise that raked in millions through drugs, gambling and loansharking.
His lawyers did strongly deny he killed women, something Bulger evidently regarded as a violation of his underworld code of honor. And they spent a surprising amount of time disputing he was a “rat” — a label that seemed to set off the hotheaded Bulger more than anything else, causing him to erupt in obscenities in the courtroom.
Bulger’s lawyers argued that Connolly, Bulger’s supposed handler inside the FBI, fabricated Bulger’s thick informant file to cover up his corrupt relationship with the gangster and advance his own career. At the time, bringing down the Mafia was a major priority for the FBI.
The prosecution’s witnesses also included numerous drug dealers, bookmakers and legitimate businessmen who described terrifying encounters with Bulger in which he ordered them to pay up or take a beating or worse.
“With that, he takes the shotgun that was on the table — he sticks it in my mouth,” Buccheri said as spectators in the courtroom gasped.
Before the trial, Bulger’s lawyers said he would take the stand and detail the corruption inside the FBI. Bulger planned to argue he was given immunity for all his crimes by a now-dead federal prosecutor. But Judge Denise Casper disallowed such a defense, and Bulger did not testify.
“I feel that I’ve been choked off from having an opportunity to give an adequate defense,” he complained to the judge as the trial wound down. “My thing is, as far as I’m concerned, I didn’t get a fair trial, and this is a sham, and do what youse want with me. That’s it. That’s my final word.”
Bulger’s life story fascinated Bostonians for decades. He grew up in a South Boston housing project and quickly became involved in crime, while his younger brother, William, rose to become one of the most powerful politicians in Massachusetts as state Senate president.
William Bulger was forced to resign as president of the University of Massachusetts system in 2003 after he testified before a congressional committee investigating the FBI’s ties to his brother and acknowledged receiving a call from him after he fled Boston.
Two years earlier, William Bulger told a grand jury he did not urge his brother to surrender because he didn’t “think it would be in his interest to do so.”
By Andrew P. Napolitano
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