Quantcast
Get breaking news alerts via email

Click here to manage your alerts
FILE - This June 23, 2011 booking photo provided by the U.S. Marshals Service shows James "Whitey" Bulger, who fled Boston in 1994 and wasn't captured until 2011 in Santa Monica, Calif., after 16 years on the run. Bulger's defense team is expected to call its final witnesses Friday, Aug. 2, 2013 during his trial in federal court in Boston. Bulger, 83, is accused of participating in 19 murders in the 1970s and '80s while leading the Winter Hill Gang. He has pleaded not guilty. (AP Photo/ U.S. Marshals Service, File)
Bulger lawyer says underworld witnesses told lies
First Published Aug 05 2013 04:34 pm • Last Updated Aug 05 2013 04:34 pm

Boston • James "Whitey" Bulger’s lawyers tried to put the government itself on trial during closing arguments Monday, accusing federal prosecutors of making sweetheart deals with ruthless killers to put the reputed Boston crime boss behind bars.

A prosecutor, meanwhile, summed up the government’s case by calling Bulger "one of the most vicious, violent and calculating criminals ever to walk the streets of Boston," and urged the jury to convict him of charges that include 19 killings committed during the 1970s and ‘80s.

Photos
Join the Discussion
Post a Comment

The jury is expected to begin deliberating Tuesday in the racketeering case against the 83-year-old Bulger, whose 16 years on the run embarrassed the FBI and exposed the bureau’s corrupt relationship with its underworld informants.

Bulger’s lawyers attacked the credibility of three key government witnesses: former hit man John Martorano, one-time Bulger protege Kevin Weeks and mobster Stephen "The Rifleman" Flemmi.

Defense attorney J.W. Carney Jr. said the three former Bulger loyalists decided to "add a little Bulger to the mix" to almost every crime they were questioned about so they could get time shaved off their sentences.

Carney argued that their testimony was bought and paid for by prosecutors.

"The witnesses are selling their testimony to the government," Carney said. "The currency that’s used here: How much freedom is the person going to get? The currency is the power of the government to keep someone locked up in a cell, surrounded by four concrete walls topped by barbed wires."

Martorano and Weeks have completed their prison sentences and are free. Flemmi struck a deal to avoid the death penalty and is serving a life sentence.

The defense went after Flemmi in particular, saying Flemmi, not Bulger, had a motive to kill the two women who are among the 19 murder victims. According to testimony, Flemmi had been sexually abusing one of the women — his own stepdaughter — for years.

"He killed his stepdaughter so she wouldn’t say what he had been doing to her," Carney said.


story continues below
story continues below

Bulger fled Boston in 1994 after being tipped off by a retired FBI agent about his indictment. He was one of the FBI’s most-wanted fugitives until he was captured with his longtime girlfriend in Santa Monica, Calif., in 2011.

Prosecutors say Bulger was secretly working as an FBI informant while the bodies piled up over the years — a claim his lawyers have strongly disputed.

During the government’s closing argument, prosecutor Fred Wyshak recounted grisly details of the killings Bulger is accused of committing or orchestrating.

Among the victims, he told the jury, were two men who were chained to chairs for hours, interrogated, then shot in the head, two women who were strangled, and two men who died in a hail of gunfire as they left a South Boston restaurant.

Wyshak said Bulger, as the boss of the Winter Hill Gang, South Boston’s Irish mob, was a hands-on killer who carried out many of the slayings himself.

He described the gang’s array of guns, knives, a souped-up "hit car" and walkie-talkies used when the group decided to kill someone.

"They hunted their targets," Wyshak said. "These men didn’t hunt animals, ladies and gentlemen, they hunted people."

In addition to the killings, Bulger is accused of numerous instances of extortion, money laundering and hoarding of guns.

Wyshak reminded the jury that witness after witness testified that Bulger was the boss, that he ran the gang and oversaw all its activities.

"It’s humorous to have them stand up here and say these crimes were committed by Weeks, Flemmi and Martorano, not by Bulger, that he was just thrown in," Wyshak said.

Prosecution witnesses and Bulger’s own lawyers said that Bulger gave payoffs to a half-dozen FBI agents, at least one state trooper and Boston police officers to get information on search warrants, wiretaps and investigations so he could stay one step ahead of indictments.

Next Page >


Copyright 2014 The Salt Lake Tribune. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Top Reader Comments Read All Comments Post a Comment
Click here to read all comments   Click here to post a comment


About Reader Comments


Reader comments on sltrib.com are the opinions of the writer, not The Salt Lake Tribune. We will delete comments containing obscenities, personal attacks and inappropriate or offensive remarks. Flagrant or repeat violators will be banned. If you see an objectionable comment, please alert us by clicking the arrow on the upper right side of the comment and selecting "Flag comment as inappropriate". If you've recently registered with Disqus or aren't seeing your comments immediately, you may need to verify your email address. To do so, visit disqus.com/account.
See more about comments here.
Staying Connected
Videos
Jobs
Contests and Promotions
  • Search Obituaries
  • Place an Obituary

  • Search Cars
  • Search Homes
  • Search Jobs
  • Search Marketplace
  • Search Legal Notices

  • Other Services
  • Advertise With Us
  • Subscribe to the Newspaper
  • Login to the Electronic Edition
  • Frequently Asked Questions
  • Contact a newsroom staff member
  • Access the Trib Archives
  • Privacy Policy
  • Missing your paper? Need to place your paper on vacation hold? For this and any other subscription related needs, click here or call 801.204.6100.