A federal judge has granted permission for racketeering charges brought against James ‘Whitey’ Bulger in 1995 to be dropped, saying it was “very much in the public interest” that the former Boston mob boss stand trial in a later case relating to his 19 murder charges.
In court on Thursday Bulger, who was captured last week in Santa Monica, was a given a tax-funded lawyer, based on his statement that he could not afford legal representation. The 81-year-old had $822,198 when he was captured last week, according to the Boston Globe.
“Our Constitution guarantees every defendant the right to a fair trial, and we’re going to see that he gets it," said Boston attorney J.W. Carney, Jr., adding: “He’s pleased the issue of counsel has been settled."
The former FBI-wanted criminal is currently being held at Plymouth County House of Correction. After being flown by helicopter to Logan International Airport, he arrived at the federal courthouse in a black sports utility vehicle and escorted by a convoy of deputy U.S. marshals.
Some family members of Bulger’s alleged victims were present in court as well as his two brother’s former Massachusetts Senate president William M. Bulger and John Bulger.
Dressed in a bright orange prison suit, Bulger was escorted to the courtroom around 1 and smiled briefly before winking at his brothers, who were seated in the front row.
Speaking about Bulger’s charges US District Chief Judge Mark L. Wolf said: “I have found many things about this case to be profoundly disturbing and dispiriting."
“My role in this case has essentially ended. I trust, however, that the dedication of the public to demanding law enforcement that is fair as well as effective, even when dealing with the most dangerous crimes and criminals, will endure.”