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This courtroom sketch depicts James "Whitey" Bulger before U.S. District Judge Mark Wolf during a hearing in a federal courtroom in Boston Tuesday, June 28, 2011. (AP Photo/Jane Flavell Collins)
DENISE LAVOIE,AP Legal Affairs Writer
BOSTON (AP) — Federal prosecutors moved Tuesday to dismiss a 1994 racketeering indictment against mob boss James "Whitey" Bulger to focus on a later indictment that charged the newly captured fugitive of participating in 19 murders.
But U.S. District Judge Mark Wolf told prosecutors during a court hearing that dismissal of the indictment is "not automatic" and that he would give Bulger's provisional attorney, Peter Krupp, a day to consult with Bulger to see whether he objects to the dismissal.
The earlier indictment, which charged Bulger with extortion, loan sharking, witness tampering and conspiracy, prompted Bulger to flee Boston just before it was handed up in early 1995. He remained a fugitive until last week, when he was apprehended in Santa Monica, Calif., with his longtime girlfriend, Catherine Greig.
Krupp told Wolf the decision to drop the first indictment appears to be "forum shopping" on the part of prosecutors, an apparent reference to the fact that Wolf — who has presided in that case since 1995 — would no longer be the judge overseeing the Bulger prosecution. U.S. District Judge Richard Stearns is assigned to the 1999 indictment, which includes the murder charges.
Prosecutors declined to comment on allegations of "forum shopping." Spokeswoman Christina DiIorio-Sterling said, "Our submission speaks for itself."
Wolf is the judge who in the 1990s held hearings that exposed the Boston FBI's corrupt relationship with Bulger and his cohort, Stephen "The Rifleman" Flemmi.
Both gangsters were FBI informants who provided the agency with information on the Mafia, their main rivals. Former FBI agent John Connolly Jr. was convicted of racketeering and obstruction of justice for protecting Bulger and Flemmi from prosecution.
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