US mob kingpin James 'Whitey' Bulger convicted on 11 murders
The reputed FBI informant will appeal the verdict, his lawyers say
A US jury convicted notorious Boston underworld kingpin and reputed FBI informant James “Whitey” Bulger for 11 murders and a raft of other criminal charges on Monday.
His lawyers said he would appeal the verdict.
After five days of deliberations, the jury of four women and eight men found Bulger guilty of all but one of the 32 counts he faced.
They included 11 of the 19 murders for which he had been charged. The one count for which he was not convicted was an extortion charge.
At the age of 83, the white-bearded Bulger – a fugitive for 16 years before his arrest in California in 2011 – is likely to spend the last days of his life behind bars.
Sentencing was set for November 13.
Besides murder, Bulger – seen by reporters giving a thumbs-up to members of his family as he was led out of the courtroom – was accused of extortion, money laundering and arms trafficking.
His trial, which began June 4, featured 72 witnesses, 840 exhibits and sometimes chilling testimony worthy of the pages of a pulp novel.
It heard harrowing tales of teeth being pulled from the mouths of murder victims to foil their posthumous identification and the fatal strangulation of a mobster’s girlfriend who “knew too much”.
But the defence team was frustrated that the trial did not emphasise the relationship between Bulger and the US Department of Justice.
“James Bulger intends to take an appeal,” his lawyer Jay Carney told reporters outside the court.
“I don’t think you’ve heard the last word from James Bulger,” added fellow defence attorney Hank Brennan.
Bulger refused to testify at his trial, saying the proceedings “unfair and a sham” because it would not recognise what he claimed was immunity from prosecution given by federal agents.
Bulger has always denied having been an FBI informant, but close links between some FBI agents in Boston and Bulger’s Winter Hill Gang in the 1970s and 1980s have been well documented.
Former FBI agent John Connolly is currently in prison after being convicted in 2002 of effectively becoming a member of the gang.
Bulger provided the inspiration for Jack Nicholson’s mob boss character in Martin Scorsese’s Oscar-winning 2006 gangster film The Departed.
The trial was clouded by the death of former south Boston liquor store Stephen Rakes, 59, who had been expected to testify against Bulger having claimed he was a victim of extortion.
Rake’s body was discovered in mid-July in Lincoln, Massachusetts where the local district attorney said there had been no obvious signs of trauma.
At the start of Bulger’s trial, federal prosecutor Brian Kelly said the case against him was “about organised crime, public corruption and all sorts of illegal activities”.
“And at the centre of all this murder and mayhem is one man [who led] a group of criminals who ran amok in the city of Boston for 30 years.”
Kelly described the Irish-American as a godfather in Boston’s seedy underworld – one who would not hesitate to strangle, shoot, kill or maim anyone he saw as a rival, informer or witness to his criminal activities.