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Whitey Bulger sentencing gets underway Wednesday

Whitey Bulger's sentencing hearing gets underway Wednesday morning in federal court in South Boston.

bulger james whitey bulger boston A 1983 mugshot of James "Whitey" Bulger taken at the Boston office of the FBI.
Credit: US Attorney's office

For decades, people feared saying the wrong thing or crossing James "Whitey" Bulger.

On Wednesday, that all changes when the 84-year-old former mob boss is confronted by the family members of his victims.

Bulger's sentencing hearing gets underway Wednesday morning in federal court in South Boston. A jury in August found him guilty of extortion, gun possession and racketeering including his involvement in 11 murders.

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The two days set for Bulger's sentencing are expected to be filled with emotion as more than a dozen victims and family members of victims are likely to speak about the violent crimes.

However, Bulger's lawyers have sought to keep some of them from speaking, arguing that the jury found that the government could not prove that Bulger was involved in eight of the 19 accused murders.

Prosecutors filed a motion to have all of the victims speak during the sentencing, arguing that Bulger's criminal enterprise was responsible for the murder of all of the victims listed regardless of who the actual murderer was.

Judge Denise Casper, who presided over Bulger's nearly three-month-long trial, will also preside over the sentencing and will speak to Bulger when she hands down his sentence, which will likely be life in prison.

Besides the amount of jail time handed down, the other issue to be resolved over the next couple of days will be the restitution claims by the families.

In a court filing, federal prosecutors detailed how they intend to split the assets they seized from Bulger, if Casper should order restitution.

"The United States intends to enter into settlement agreements with the victims or victims' estates whereby the assets are divided equally among the participating estates of the murder victims, with a smaller share provided to participating innocent extortion victims," the government said.

Thirteen victims' families or estates have submitted their loss calculations because of the crimes that total more than $830 million. The family of Roger Wheeler, the murdered head of World Jai Alai, estimated their loss to be $810 million.

Follow Michael Naughton on Twitter @metrobosmike.

 
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