BOSTON (CBS/AP) — James “Whitey” Bulger, the feared Boston mob boss who became one of the nation’s most-wanted fugitives, was convicted Monday in a string of 11 murders and other gangland crimes, many of them committed while he was said to be an FBI informant.
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Bulger, 83, showed no reaction upon hearing the verdict, which brought to a close a case that not only transfixed the city with its grisly violence but exposed corruption inside the Boston FBI and an overly cozy relationship between the bureau and its underworld snitches.
WBZ’s Jim Armstrong on scene inside court
Bulger was charged primarily with racketeering, a catchall offense that listed 33 criminal acts — among them, 19 murders that he allegedly helped orchestrate or carried out himself during the 1970s and ’80s while he led the Winter Hill Gang, Boston’s ruthless Irish mob. The racketeering charge also included acts of extortion, money-laundering and drug dealing.
The jury had to find he committed only two of those acts to convict him of racketeering. After 4½ days of deliberations, it decided he took part in 11 of those murders, along with nearly all of the other crimes.
Bulger could get life in prison. But given his age, even a modest term could amount to a life sentence for the slightly stooped, white-bearded Bulger.
WBZ NewsRadio 1030′s Lana Jones reports
Bulger faced a wide-ranging racketeering indictment that included 19 murders.
The jury believed federal prosecutors proved its case that Bulger participated in the murders of Paul McGongale, Eddie Connors, Thomas King, Richard Castucci, Roger Wheeler, Brian Halloran, Michael Donahue, John Callahan, Arthur “Bucky” Barrett, John McIntyre and Deborah Hussey.
The jury could not come to a unanimous decision on the murder of Debra Davis, which may have been the biggest surprise.
Bulger insisted he never killed a woman – specifically Hussey or Davis. Bulger’s partner, Stephen Flemmi, testified last month that Bulger decided Debra Davis knew too much about their criminal operation and strangled her in front of Flemmi.
Flemmi’s testimomy wasn’t enough to convince the jury.
Watch: Victims’ Families React
“I don’t feel that (Bulger) hands-on himself killed my sister, but I do know that he was guilty of conspiring or taking part of the whole thing, so the ‘no finding’ is better than a not guilty,” Davis’s brother Steve told reporters outside court.
Bulger’s attorney J.W. Carney, Jr. said he was “pleased” with the outcome of the trial, from the perspective of a criminal defense attorney.
Read: Whitey Bulger Timeline
“We hope we made our fellow criminal defense lawyers proud,” Carney told reporters.
Carney said Bulger plans to appeal.
Bulger skipped town in 1994 after being tipped off — by a retired FBI agent, John Connolly, it turned out — that he was about to be indicted.
During 16 years on the run, Bulger was on the FBI’s 10 Most Wanted list. He was finally captured in 2011 in Santa Monica, Calif., where he had been living in a rent-controlled apartment near the beach with his longtime girlfriend, Catherine Greig. She was sentenced to eight years in prison for helping Bulger evade the law.
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