James Whitey Bulger, the alleged crime boss, is finally facing trial in Boston charged with 19 murders. Bulger was captured in Santa Monica, California in 2011, ending his 16 years on the run.
According to Businessweek, the Federal Bureau of Investigation has called Bulger one of its 'most notorious fugitives' known for infiltrating the agency and 'sowing seeds of public distrust in law enforcement that remain in South Boston to this day.'
Bulger reportedly gave tips to the FBI while he led a notorious Irish-American organized crime gang in Boston from the 1970s to the early 1990s, Assistant U.S. Attorney Brian Kelly told jurors yesterday during the opening statements in federal court in Boston.
Bulger, 83, allegedly turned several FBI agents toward his side and compromised probes into his activities, Kelly said.
'It’s a case about organized crime, public corruption and all sorts of illegal activities, ranging from extortion to drug dealing to money laundering to possession of machine guns and murder - 19 murders,' Kelly said. 'At the center of all this murder and mayhem is one man - the defendant James Bulger.'
Bulger's lawyer J.W. Carney reportedly admitted yesterday in his opening statement that Bulger was a drug dealer and loan-shark. But Bulger, who pleaded not guilty to murder charges, is being blamed for the crimes of others, Carney said.
Carney also claimed that the lack of federal charges against Bulger before 1995, just after Bulger went on the run, provides ample proof of FBI corruption rather than evidence that Bulger was an informant.
'I tell you this story so you will know the depth of corruption in federal law enforcement that occurred during this period,' Carney said. 'This is how James Bulger was able to do illegal gaming, make illegal loans and be involved in drug trafficking, extortion, and never ever be charged - and on top of that make millions upon millions of dollars.'
Carney then said Bulger actually paid a corrupt FBI special agent named John Connolly for inside information about wiretaps and searches. Carney said Connolly lied and told his superiors that Bulger was an informant to justify their meetings.
Bulger could spend the rest of his life in prison if he’s found guilty at trial, which is expected to last three months and is being overseen by U.S. District Judge Denise Casper.
Witnesses reportedly set to testify include Bulger's longtime partner Stephen Flemmi, who pulled out the teeth of murder victims to prevent their identification and who is now serving a life sentence.
Kevin Weeks, another longtime partner of Bulger and gunman John Martorano, who admitted he killed 20 people, sometimes on Bulger’s orders, will also testify.
Bulger, who grew up in the Irish-Catholic housing projects of Dorchester in South Boston, became involved in serious crimes at a young age, including rape, and spent three years in the Alcatraz federal prison in San Francisco for bank robbery before his rise as a kingpin saw him dominate much of Boston’s criminal underworld, the FBI has said.