Updated news on the Gambino, Genovese, Bonanno, Lucchese and Colombo Organized Crime Families of New York City.

Friday, July 1, 2011

‘Whitey’ Bulger to get court-appointed lawyer

James “Whitey” Bulger, the alleged former crime boss from Boston who eluded the FBI for 16 years and had more than $800,000 in his apartment when he was arrested in California, will get a court-appointed attorney, a federal magistrate judge ruled this afternoon.
“I find at this time that the defendant is unable to retain counsel,” said US Magistrate Judge Marianne Bowler.
Prominent defense attorney J.W. Carney Jr., a veteran of many high-profile murder cases, was appointed to represent Bulger.
“I’m Jay Carney. My pleasure,” Carney said as he introduced himself and shook Bulger’s hand in the courtroom.
Bowler found that Bulger did not have the financial resources to pay for his own attorney. She also said that she knew of no legal requirement that a defendant’s relatives pay for his defense.
Bulger’s brother, William, is the former president of the Massachusetts state Senate and a former president of the University of Massachusetts. He is now drawing a sizeable state pension.
Taxpayers are “paying his brother’s salary, and now we’ve got to pay his ... defense,” said Steven Davis, the brother of Debra Davis, one of James Bulger’s alleged victims.
“Our Constitution guarantees every defendant the right to a fair trial, and we’re going to see that he gets it,” Carney said after the hearing.
Carney is known for taking tough cases. His current clients include Tarek Mehanna, an alleged terrorist from Sudbury. Over the years, he has also made headlines representing John C. Salvi III, who attacked a Brookline abortion clinic in 1994, and Kenneth Seguin, a Holliston man who killed his entire family in 1992.
Though many thought he would never be captured, James Bulger, 81, was arrested last week in oceanside Santa Monica, Calif., where he had been living a quiet life on the lam with his girlfriend, Catherine Greig, 60.
The decision by Bowler came during the second of two hearings in federal court today in the Bulger case, which has riveted the city, revived the pain of victims’ relatives, and generated widespread headlines.
In the first hearing, US District Court Chief Judge Mark Wolf allowed prosecutors to drop 1995 charges against Bulger in favor of charges brought in 2000 that allege that Bulger played a role in 19 murders. “It is in the public interest that this case be dismissed,” Wolf said. “I find that the US attorney has made a good faith decision to dismiss this case.”
Prosecutors had said that the second case was stronger, involved more serious charges, and posed a better chance of bringing justice to the victims’ relatives.
Bulger made a dramatic entrance today in Boston when he disembarked from a US Coast Guard helicopter at Logan International Airport. The helicopter had brought him from the Plymouth jail, rather than the usual caravan of speeding vehicles.
Video shot by NECN-TV and WHDH-TV showed a handcuffed Bulger, in an orange prison uniform, being helped out of the helicopter by a camouflage-clad officer armed with an assault rifle. Bulger, who appeared to be wearing ear protectors, crouched a little as he passed under the helicopter’s rotors toward an SUV waiting a short distance away. The alleged vicious gangster stood patiently by the open door of an SUV before being placed in it.
Early in the afternoon, as the courtroom doors opened, officers allowed William Bulger and another brother, John, in first.
Steven Davis, 53, whose sister James Bulger allegedly strangled in 1981, immediately protested.
“Hey, why is he getting in first?” Davis said, and cursed as officers tried to calm him down.
“It’s his brother,” one of the officers responded. “If he was your brother, I’d let youse in, too.”
After the first hearing, Davis said he was furious that William Bulger went in before anyone else.
“They had no right putting him in front of the victims’ families,” Davis said.
Willliam and John Bulger sat next to each other. James Bulger winked at his two brothers while waiting for proceedings to begin.
By the end of the day, it was clear the hours of complex legal wrangling had taken its toll.
“I just wish they’d found him dead and we didn’t have to start over,” said John Davis, 62, another one of Debra Davis’s brothers.
After the second hearing, Bulger was handcuffed as a US marshal prepared to take him back into custody. Steven Davis began clapping loudly. A court officer quickly chastised him.
Tommy Donahue, son of murder victim Michael Donahue, said he could not blame Davis for becoming emotional. The families have waited for years for some sort of justice, he said.
“It’s a long process,” Donahue said, standing outside the courtroom. “We have a long road ahead of us, but we’re closer than we’ve ever been before.”
Bulger allegedly presided over a murderous reign in the Boston underworld, while being protected as a prized FBI informant.
He fled just before Christmas 1994 after his corrupt former FBI handler, John J. Connolly Jr., warned him that he was about to be indicted. Bulger and his longtime sidekick, Stephen “the Rifleman’’ Flemmi, were indicted in January 1995, along with Francis “Cadillac Frank’’ Salemme, then boss of the New England Mafia, and four other men on racketeering and extortion charges. Bulger, Flemmi, and Salemme were accused of running illegal rackets in Greater Boston and extorting money from bookmakers.
Bulger became the target of a worldwide manhunt. Flemmi tried to get the case dismissed by revealing that he and Bulger were FBI informants who provided the bureau with information about local Mafia leaders, including Salemme.
But the defense backfired. Several of Bulger’s former associates began cooperating with investigators, leading them to secret graves of homicide victims and exposing Bulger’s cozy relationship with the FBI.
The former associates’ assistance led to the 2000 indictment, which charged Bulger and Flemmi with 19 murders. Flemmi pleaded guilty to participating in 10 of those slayings and is serving a life sentence.



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