BOSTON (AP) — James “Whitey” Bulger is on trial in a 32-count racketeering indictment accusing him of a long list of crimes, including participating in 19 killings. Here’s a look at the case against him, his defense and what’s happening in the courtroom:
The 83-year-old Bulger, the alleged former leader of the Winter Hill Gang, was one of the nation’s most wanted fugitives after he fled Boston in 1994. He was captured in 2011 in Santa Monica, Calif., where he had been living with his longtime girlfriend in a rent-controlled apartment. His early image as a modern-day Robin Hood who gave Thanksgiving dinners to working-class neighbors and kept drug dealers out of his South Boston neighborhood was shattered when authorities started digging up bodies.
Prosecutors on Monday called James Marra, an agent with the Justice Department’s Office of the Inspector General. Marra read excerpts from Bulger’s FBI informant file, which described information Bulger allegedly gave to several Boston FBI agents about the Italian Mafia and assorted other criminals in the Boston area. Marra said that based on the file, Bulger provided information to the FBI almost continually from 1975 to 1990.
Bulger’s lawyers insist that Bulger was not an FBI informant. They say he paid certain FBI agents to warn him about investigations and indictments of him and his gang. Attorney Hank Brennan argued that Marra has no firsthand knowledge of Bulger’s activities in those days and should not be allowed to offer his opinion on whether Bulger was an informant. Judge Denise Casper sustained his objection.
Eleven men and seven women are serving on the jury, including 12 regular jurors and six alternates. The trial is expected to last three to four months.
The defendant appeared to get angry while prosecutors were calling him an informant. Several people in the courtroom overheard him mutter an expletive and deny being an informant.
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Former Boston FBI Agent John Morris could testify as early as Tuesday. Morris was John Connolly’s supervisor while prosecutors say Connolly was Bulger’s handler as an FBI informant. Morris, who was granted immunity from prosecution, has admitted that he accepted cash from Bulger’s gang.