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Mobster James ‘Whitey’ Bulger found guilty of racketeering, involvement in murders

Bulger linked to 11 of the 19 murders he was accused of

CNN News Wire | 8/12/2013, 2:18 p.m.
James "Whitey" Bulger

BOSTON, Mass. — The jury in the trial of convicted mob boss James “Whitey” Bulger found him guilty Monday on 31 of 32 counts — including involvement in 11 murders.

The guilty verdicts in the federal racketeering trial could bring a sentence of up to life in prison. Now age 83, Bulger could die in prison.

Sentencing was scheduled for November 13.

It’s “a complete victory for the government,” said CNN legal analyst Sunny Hostin.

In one of the racketeering counts, Bulger was accused of involvement in killing 19 people, including two women.

The jury found Bulger played a role in 11 murders, and that the the government failed to prove he was involved in seven other murders. The jury made no finding in one murder.

“Pat Donahue is crying,” Feyerick tweeted from court. “Her husband’s murder was proved.” And Eddie Connor’s daughter Karen clenched her fists and said, “Yes” when her father’s death by Bulger was proved, Feyerick reported.

But the daughter of Buddy Leonard left court after the jury did not find enough evidence to link Bulger to his death.

And Debra Davis’ brother Steven Davis left the court in disbelief after the jury had “no finding” in her death.

Debra Davis was dating Bulger’s partner Steve Flemmi, and one day just didn’t come home.

The only count Bulger was not found guilty of was on the alleged extortion of Kevin Hayes, a ticket broker, who had said he was warned in 1994 that he had to give “payoffs” to Bulger in order to operate.

Bulger showed no emotion as the verdicts were read.

The eight men and four women of the jury deliberated for five days, over more than 32 hours, before reaching their verdict.

It came after seven weeks of testimony about murder, extortion, drug trafficking, loansharking, bookmaking and other gangster crimes covering the time Bulger ran Boston’s Irish mob from the early ’70s through 1995, when he fled the city.

The verdict closes an epic criminal tale that included a life on the lam for 16 years that began in 1994 when a crooked FBI agent told Bulger that he was about to be indicted on federal racketeering charges.

The Irish mob kingpin of tough-talkin’ south Boston soon became one of the most wanted men in America. Bulger the FBI informant became Bulger the FBI fugitive.

It was the stuff of Hollywood moviemaking, and in fact, Bulger’s mob-boss brutality inspired Jack Nicholson’s character in the film “The Departed,” which was directed by Martin Scorsese and won four Oscars in 2006, including best picture.

Then, in 2011, the FBI finally tracked him down: Bulger was living on the other side of the country in an apartment just blocks from the beaches of Santa Monica, California, caressed by year-round sunshine and ocean breezes.

It was a fine life, with about $822,000 in cash — largely $100 bills — hidden inside a wall in his apartment, located in a tourist haven right beside Los Angeles. Bulger also kept 30 guns in his residence.

Daring to the end, Bulger was hiding in plain sight, living under an alias with his girlfriend. They called themselves Charlie and Carol Gasko.

It was a long fall for Bulger: One of America’s notorious mob bosses was called “a rat bastard” and “a coward” by victims’ relatives and former associates who attended or watched the trial.

Bulger declined to take the stand to testify in his defense, telling the judge, outside the jury’s presence, that his trial was “a sham” because he had an immunity deal with federal authorities in exchange for being an informant. The judge had ruled he couldn’t make that claim during his trial.

Bulger’s girlfriend, Catherine Greig, pleaded guilty in March to charges of conspiracy to harbor a fugitive, identity fraud and conspiracy to commit identity fraud.

Her crime was “the most extreme case” of harboring a fugitive, prosecutors said.

Greig, 61, was sentenced in June to eight years in federal prison.

Josh Levs and Michael Martinez | CNN