Reporting Joe Shortsleeve
BOSTON (CBS) — South Boston lawyer Daniel Rull has quietly practiced law for 37 years out of a small office on East Broadway.
Few people, in fact, have ever heard of him.
But now an I-Team investigation reveals that for 20 years — spanning the 1970′s, 1980′s and 1990′s — Rull handled more than 30 real estate transactions for Whitey Bulger and his gang.
In an exclusive interview with the I-Team, Rull described his work for the now-convicted crime boss and explained why he did it for so long.
“I never called him Whitey,” Rull says. “He asked that I call him Jimmy, which I always did.”
At trial last month, a jury found Bulger guilty of hiding the proceeds from his criminal enterprise through four of those real estate deals handled by Rull — The South Boston Liquor Mart, Rotary Variety, condominiums on West Fourth Street, and the bar once called Triple O’s.
In the case of the liquor store, Bulger was also convicted of extortion.
Rull agreed to be interviewed only if we did not ask him about those specific transactions.
Asked why he decided to represent Bulger at all, Rull said: “Well, I think you’re asking this question in 2013 when we have the benefit of looking back with twenty-twenty hindsight. At the time that I met Mr. Bulger, there were no pending charges against him.”
Shouldn’t Rull have known that Bulger was a criminal?
“There was street talk involving the fact that perhaps Mr. Bulger wasn’t an altar boy,” Rull said. “But there was also street talk that centered around the fact that Mr. Bulger was a knight in shining armor. I didn’t pass judgment on what he was.”
Andrew Perlman, a professor of ethics at Suffolk University Law School, said Rull’s legal work for Whitey and his partners could raise ethical questions.
“It strikes me as a little bit fishy,” Perlman said. “I mean there’s certainly a lot of evidence that was available at the time to know that Whitey Bulger was a crime boss.
“The mere fact that he was representing Whitey Bulger in a real estate transaction, by itself, is not ethically problematic,” Perlman said. “Where a lawyer crosses the line is where a lawyer is knowingly helping a client achieve some criminal or fraudulent ends.
“So the question here would be, what did Mr. Rull know and when did he know it?” Perlman said.
Rull claimed that, as far as he knew, the deals he handled for Bulger were legal transactions.
But the lawyer also admitted that eventually he had second thoughts about doing legal work for the notorious crime boss and killer.
“At some point in time I suppose I would have preferred not to be doing business with Mr. Bulger, but that time never came,” Rull said. “There was an element of concern that could be translated into perhaps a small element of fear.”
Asked what he feared, Rull said: “I’m a married man, I have two daughters, and I didn’t want to subject them to anything that might be dangerous.”
Bulger was ultimately found guilty of participating in 11 murders, as well as money laundering, extortion, weapons possession, and conspiracy to distribute narcotics.
Rull has not been charged with any crimes in connection with the legal work he did for Bulger and his cohorts.
We asked Rull if he has any regrets.
“I’d be lying to you if I sat here today, after the verdict that the jury returned, and told you that I didn’t have any regrets,” Rull said. “Of course, I’m a human being.”
And why has Rull never spoken publicly until now?
“Because no one has asked,” he said.