UPDATE 6/12/2013: BOSTON (AP) - A federal prosecutor said in opening statements today at James "Whitey" Bulger's racketeering trial that the reputed mobster was at the center of "murder and mayhem" in Boston for almost 30 years, while the defense attacked the credibility of the government's star witnesses. Prosecutor Brian Kelly told jurors that Bulger headed the violent Winter Hill Gang that "ran amok" in Boston for nearly three decades, killing 19 people, extorting millions from drug dealers and other criminals, and corrupting police and FBI agents. "At the center of all this murder and mayhem is one man - the defendant in this case, James Bulger," Kelly said.
Bulger's lead attorney, J. W. Carney Jr., went after the prosecution's star witnesses, including hit man John Martorano, who admitted killing 20 people and has agreed to testify against Bulger. Martorano served 12 years in prison for his crimes, in what Carney called an "extraordinary benefit" for his cooperation with prosecutors. "The federal government was so desperate to have John Martorano testify ... they basically put their hands up in the air and said take anything you want," Carney said.
The government plans to show the jury a 700-page file they say shows that Bulger, while committing a long list of crimes, was also working as an FBI informant, providing information on the New England Mob - his gang's main rivals - and corrupting FBI agents who ignored his crimes.
Bulger, now 83, was one of the nation's most wanted fugitives when he fled Boston in 1994 after receiving a tip from his former FBI handler, John Connolly, that he was about to be indicted. He was finally captured in 2011 in Santa Monica, Calif., where he had been living with his longtime girlfriend in a rent-controlled apartment.
The trial is expected to last three to four months.
Some called him a Robin Hood, but the feds indicted him for 19 murders. Not a very good fella.
He was Massachusetts Mafioso James "Whitey" Bulger, and after a 19-year career as an FBI informant, he went on the lam in 1994. He wasn't captured until 2011, outside his apartment in Santa Monica.
But even a murderer needs a haircut, and Bulger, it turns out, used to go to a colorful barber in Santa Monica for a beard trim - his head being almost completely bald.
Bulger, says this barber, who has requested anonymity, was a gentleman, and gave a 100% tip for a $14 beard trim. Once, the barber remembers, he was cutting a cop's hair, and Bulger walked in and sat down in a nearby barber chair, cool as a cucumber, waiting his turn.
When asked what he thinks about Bulger's capture, the barber laments, "They took away one of my best customers."