(Updated) Bulger guilty of murder, money laundering and conspiracy
James “Whitey” Bulger, the notorious and storied leader of the violent Winter Hill Gang, was found guilty on Monday of his crimes that left a neighborhood in fear, cast doubt on the FBI and stole loved ones away from their families.
But while the jury found him guilty of multiple charges, they also delivered a surprise and declared that the government did not prove that Bulger was involved in eight accused murders.
A jury deliberated for about 32 hours over five days before returning guilty verdicts against the 83-year-old former mob boss. Judge Denise Casper scheduled his sentencing for Nov. 13. Bulger will likely spend the rest of his life behind bars. The first count alone carries a life in prison sentence.
Bulger stood up with his hands folded in front of him as the verdicts were read. There was stunned silence in the courtroom as the first few murder charges were declared “not proven” by the court clerk who read out loud the jury’s verdict form.
Outside the courthouse, some relatives of the Bulger’s victims were angered at the jury’s findings.
“My father just got murdered 40 years later,” said William O’Brien, whose father William was allegedly killed by Bugler in 1973. The jury found that the government did not prove Bugler was involved in his murder. “The prosecution dropped the ball. The jury should be ashamed of themselves.”
Other relatives rejoiced at the news. Seeing the man that had killed their loved ones and then flee to California for 16 years finally be brought to justice brought tears to their eyes.
“I think there was justice today for me,” said Pat Donahue, whose husband Michael was killed by Bulger in 1982.
But Bulger’s guilty verdict will not be enough for some people.
While the conviction of Bulger ends a dark chapter for the city, it will always remain a part of Boston’s history. Bulger was able to commit crimes and avoid prosecution for years because of his status as an FBI informant and his relationship with corrupt agents. One agent, John Connolly, who was Bulger’s handler, is serving a prison sentence in Florida.
But some of the victims families, and those who endured Bulger’s tenure, feel there are more people that helped Bulger who also need to be held responsible.
“Our road’s not done yet, we still have another guy to go for,” said Tommy Donahue, Michael Donahue’s son. Donahue said he wants the state to prosecute a former Winter Hill Gang member as the second gunman who helped Bugler kill his father.
Bulger’s defense team tried to make their case by putting the government on trial. During his closing argument, J. W. Carney urged the jurors to “stand up to governmental abuse” when they return their verdict.
Carney said after the verdict that Bulger would appeal because he was unable to present his defense that he was allegedly given immunity by a former federal prosecutor.
Hank Brennan, Bulger’s other lawyer, hinted that Bulger would speak at some point.
“I don’t think you’ve heard the last word from James Bulger,” Brennan said.
US Attorney for the District of Massachusetts Carmen Oritz said that making deals with some of the witnesses like confessed killer John Martorano and confessed mobster Kevin Weeks were part of an imperfect system.
“Here there were numerous people that were clearly responsible and I think we did the best that we could,” Ortiz said.
Follow Michael Naughton on Twitter @metrobosmike.