Mobster James ‘Whitey’ Bulger Guilty Of Racketeering, Involvement In Murders
Legendary crime boss James “Whitey” Bulger, who used a corrupt relationship with law enforcement to terrorize the city for decades, was convicted by a jury Monday of 11 murders and dozens of other crimes.
The 83-year old Bulger who, opened his trial by flinging obscenities at witnesses who displeased him, stood silently and watched, hands clasped at his waist, as a court clerk read through seven pages of crimes, most of which the jury concluded he had committed. The guilty findings should keep Bulger in prison for the rest of his life.
The conviction, and years of investigation preceding it, reveal not only the grotesque violence for which Bulger and his partners were routinely responsible, but the degree to which he had corrupted the local FBI office. There was testimony Bulger paid an agent a quarter million dollars and, in return, repeatedly received information he used to kill witnesses.
The verdicts destroyed whatever remained of the Bulger myth – a myth propagated by Bulger and his friends in federal law enforcement – that one of the country’s most violent criminals was really a “good” bad guy, a hoodlum with a blue-collar heart who, among other things, kept drug dealers out of Irish-American South Boston, his power base.
U.S. Attorney Carmen Ortiz said the jury verdicts mark “the end of an era that was very ugly in Boston’s history.”
“Today is a day that many in this city thought would never come,” Ortiz said. “The day of reckoning for Whitey Bulger has been long in coming, in fact too long.”
There was evidence at the trial, including more than 500 pages of FBI reports, that Bulger was a long-time, FBI informant who gave up fellow South Boston criminals – not to mention, his own partners – without hesitation. Bulger used the informant relationship to co-opt the FBI, providing gifts and cash to as many as six agents.
Bulger’s corrupt FBI handlers in Boston persuaded senior prosecutors and Washington FBI officials that he should be protected from arrest because he was a potential source of information about the justice department’s top target, the Italian mafia. In reality, the evidence showed Bulger had little to offer about the mafia.
In the meantime, the jury concluded, he was directing ruthless extortions that he used to seize control of drug distribution in South Boston and elsewhere. He collected as much as $500,000 a week by flooding his own neighborhood with tons of cocaine and marijuana and creating an army of addicts.
Other evidence put the now 83-year-old crime boss at the center of an ambitious plot by his Winter Hill gang and retired Boston FBI agent H. Paul Rico to penetrate the U.S. pari-mutuel industry by taking over the World Jai Alai company.
Bulger signed on to the murderous jai alai plot even though he worried from the outset that the law enforcement attention it was certain to generate would be his undoing. Bulger was right. Four of the murders for which he was convicted were related to his gang’s attempt to shoot its way into World Jai Alai.
The first to die was World Jai Alai owner Roger Wheeler. Then Winter Hill associates Brian Halloran and John Callahan were gunned down after Bulger’s corrupt FBI handler, agent John Connolly, told him the two were or were likely to become witnesses against him in the Wheeler murder.
The fourth victim was Michael Donahue, an innocent bystander who happened to be sitting in a car with Halloran when Bulger opened fire with a machine gun, in broad daylight, on a busy South Boston street, yards from the shiny new courthouse where his 2-month trial took place.
“The government needs to be accountable for all this crap,” Donahue’s son, Thomas, said Monday. “The deceit of the FBI is why we are all here right now.”
The jury found that Bulger strangled to death partner Stephen “The Rifleman” Flemmi’s drug-addicted step daughter, Deborah Hussey, a young woman Flemmi admitted having sexually abused. There was testimony that Deborah Hussey’s drug addiction had become an embarrassment for Bulger’s and Flemmi’s Winter Hill gang.
There was evidence that Bulger watched Flemmi rip the teeth from their murder victims’ mouths in an effort to deter identification of bodies. Flemmi testified he was forced to bury the bodies because Bulger always napped after murders.
The jury convicted Bulger on 31 counts of a broad 32 count racketeering indictment. The jury found Bulger not guilty of extorting protection payments from small time Dorchester bookie Kevin Hays. When he testified, Hay’s described being threatened with death by a member of Bulger’s gang, but he did say Bulger was present.