Lawyers for accused mobster James “Whitey” Bulger are set to be in a Boston courtroom Wednesday, arguing that Bulger can’t be tried for his alleged role in 19 killings.
Bulger is scheduled to go on trial in June, charged with racketeering, murder, and other crimes for his alleged involvement in 19 killings while he was leader of the Winter Hill Gang. He has pleaded not guilty, and claims that former federal prosecutor Jeremiah O’Sullivan granted him immunity in exchange for being an FBI informant during the 1970s and 1980s. O’Sullivan, who died in 2009, testified to Congress in 2002 that he never made a deal with Bulger.
The U.S. Attorney’s office is challenging Bulger’s immunity claim. Last week, prosecutors filed a motion asking U.S. District Judge Richard Stearns to decide the issue. The motion included a transcript of a jailhouse conversation Bulger had with his brother Jack in September 2012, in which Bulger said he never gave information to the FBI. Bulger’s lawyers want a federal appeals court to remove Stearns from the case, because he was a federal prosecutor during the time Bulger worked with the FBI.
The 83-year-old Bulger was arrested in 2011 after spending 16 years as a fugitive. At the time of his capture, Bulger and longtime girlfriend Catherine Greig were living under assumed names in Santa Monica, Calif. Authorities say the couple had numerous weapons and nearly $800,000 in cash in their apartment.
Greig pleaded guilty to harboring a fugitive and other federal charges last year. She is appealing a nearly eight year prison sentence.