Whitey Bulger guilty of racketeering, conspiracy
BOSTON — Former Boston crime boss James “Whitey” Bulger has been convicted in a string of 11 killings and other underworld crimes.
The 83-year-old Bulger faces life in prison after being convicted Monday of committing or playing a role in the killings during the 1970s and ’80s while he led the Winter Hill Gang, Boston’s Irish mob.
Bulger was one of the nation’s most-wanted fugitives after he fled Boston ahead of a 1994 indictment. He was captured in Santa Monica, Calif., in 2011.
He is accused of shooting or strangling some of the victims himself. In other cases, he allegedly ordered the slayings or participated in some other way.
Reputed Boston gangster James “Whitey” Bulger says 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.
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 say Bulger was a longtime FBI informant who was protected by corrupt FBI agents. Bulger’s lawyers deny that he was an informant and say 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 are 33 separate criminal acts, including all of the killings. The jury must find that Bulger committed at least two of the acts within 10 years of each other to find him guilty of racketeering.
The jury heard testimony from 72 witnesses and saw 840 exhibits during the two-month trial.
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.”
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