James “Whitey” Bulger Found Guilty of Murder, Racketeering Charges
James “Whitey” Bulger, was found guilty of 31 of 32 counts against him in a broad racketeering indictment, including 11 of the 19 murders against him. On the 41st day of the trial and after five days of deliberation, the jury reached their verdict. A few of the counts against Bulger included Racketeering Conspiracy, for his role in a criminal enterprise, Extortion Conspiracy, Money Laundering, and Possession of Firearms in Furtherance of Violent Crime.
Bulger, the former head of the Winter Hill Gang in Boston, was an informant to the FBI and rose to power in the 1980s. Bulger was known as a “Top Echelon Informant,” someone high up in a criminal enterprise that provided information about other organizations to authorities. Bulger would provide tips on the Mafia in Boston (his only competition), and his handler would tip him off about investigations into Bulger’s group. Bulger used this relationship to wipe out anyone who opposed or threatened his enterprise. With an indictment in 1994 coming down against him, Bulger received a tip from his FBI handler, agent John “Zip” Connolly, and went on the run before he was found in May of 2011.
In the explosive trial, jurors heard from law enforcement officials, a disgraced former head of the FBI, a former hitman for Bulger, John Martorano, Bulger’s enforcer, Kevin Weeks, and even his right-hand man, Stephen Flemmi. Their testimony chronicled a dark chapter of Boston’s past, one where the Winter Hill instilled fear into the lives of many. The evidence presented by the government in the case was overwhelming. Government witnesses included criminals who worked with Bulger. Graphic photos of murder scenes and weapons were more than enough to prove guilt on Bulger’s part.
Just five days into the trial, the government called John Martorano to the stand to testify against his former partner. Martorano talked about murders he committed in extensive detail, including a string of murders connected to the World Jai-Alai sporting complex. Martorano testified that acting under Bulger’s orders, he murdered the owner of the company, Roger Wheeler. Bulger and Flemmi later felt that John Callahan, the man that informed them of a business opportunity, could possibly implicate the group in the murder of Wheeler. Martorano was hesitant, but eventually agreed to kill Callahan. “I felt lousy, but [Bulger and Flemmi] were my partners,” Martorano testified. “We were up to our necks in murders already.”
Flemmi testified that Bulger had an “overbearing” personality, and that his relationship with Whitey was “strictly criminal.” Flemmi also called Bulger a pedophile, claiming he took a 16-year old to Mexico.
Though Judge Casper maintained order throughout the trial, that didn’t stop a few notable outbursts from occurring in her courtroom.
As Kevin Weeks was nearing the end of his cross-examination, he told Bulger’s lawyer he had regrets killing others. “We killed people that were rats, and I had the two biggest rats next to me. That’s why it…”
“You suck!” Bulger said.
“[Expletive] you, okay?” Weeks shot back.
“[Expletive] you too.” Bulger said.
Judge Casper quickly intervened, warning Bulger that his attorneys should speak for him, and that Weeks should only respond to questions asked of him.
A few weeks later, when Stephen Flemmi testified against Bulger, Flemmi misspoke, accidentally saying Stevie Davis, brother of alleged victim Debra Davis was involved with drugs. Davis, who was in the courtroom, jumped up and screamed “That’s [expletive] wrong! That’s a [expletive] lie!”
Judge Casper allowed Davis to remain in the courtroom, provided he did not act out again.
Bulger was found by the jury to have had a role in the murders of (in order of occurrence) Paul McGonagle, Edward Connors, Thomas King, Richard Castucci, Roger Wheeler, Brian Halloran, Michael Donahue, John Callahan, Arthur “Bucky” Barrett, John McIntyre, and Deborah Hussey.
The jury had “no finding” as to Bulger’s role in the murder of Debra Davis. The jury also found that evidence did not prove Bulger’s role in the murders of Michael Milano, Al Plummer, William O’Brien, James O’Toole, Al Notorangeli, James Sousa, or Francis “Buddy” Leonard.
The trial came to a close on August 12, almost two months after it officially began in early June. Bulger’s lawyer, J.W. Carney says the defense team will appeal the verdicts against their client.
Bulger will appear before Judge Denise Casper on November 13, at 2:00 at the Moakley Federal Courthouse for a sentencing hearing. Stay tuned to The Suffolk Voice for updates.