Whitey Bulger, the infamous Boston mobster who was the inspiration for Jack Nicholson’s character in The Departed, has been convicted of 31 of 32 counts of racketeering including 11 murders that occurred decades ago.
The verdict was read out just after 2 p.m. local time today. Reports from the courtroom say that Bulger looked calm as the verdict was read.
Bulger’s charges stem from his decades as the iron-fisted ruler of South Boston’s Irish mob, The Winter Hill Gang. During the time it’s alleged that in addition to his criminal activities he had been an FBI informant. He used this as a tactic to eliminate his opponents. In 1994, acting on information that he was to be indicted, he fled Boston with girlfriend Catherine Greig. After one of the largest manhunts in U.S. history, Bulger was found in 2011, after 16 years on the run, in Santa Monica, California.
The trial has lasted 41 days, during which time there have been 72 witnesses, 840 exhibits of evidence and 35 days of testimony.
Here’s what you should know.
1. The Marathon Trial is Over
Reputed and alleged no more. Whitey Bulger is now a convicted mob boss and a convicted murderer.
— Curt Nickisch (@CurtNickisch) August 12, 2013
Bulger sat in court, calm as the jury read out the verdict. He had earlier stated that he believed his trial was a “sham.” Two of his nieces were present in the courtroom. A sentencing date has been set for November 13.
During the reading out of the verdict someone shouted: “Rat a tat tat Bulger” in his direction from the gallery. Later this person was revealed to be Cheryl Connors, the daughter of one of Bulger’s victims, Eddie Connors. She told reporters that Bulger knows what it means.
Bulger’s lawyers have said that they plan to appeal the verdict.
— Steven Bognar (@BogsWBZ) August 12, 2013
2. Bulger is Facing a Life Sentence
Each charge that Whitey faces could carry anywhere from 25 to life in prison with the possibility of parole or without. The likelihood of him serving even one of those life sentences would be miraculous seeing as though as the average life expectancy in the United States, according to Social Security is 84, which means Bulger, is about to be on borrowed time.
The other charges such as racketeering vary in jail time but other examples of cases similar to Bulgers such as the Gambino case, Could get anywhere from 30 to 50 years.
But Bulger has several high profile witnesses speaking on his behalf: FBI Director Robert Mueller, former Gov. William Weld and U.S. District Judge Richard Stearns, all of whom worked in the U.S. attorney’s office in Boston during a time when Bulger claims he received immunity from another federal prosecutor in the office, according to US News.
3. His “Immunity” Claim Didn’t Fly in Court
Judge Denise Casper is allowing Bulger’s 700-page informant file into evidence. The doc claims to prove Bulger’s cooperation with the FBI in helping to the feds shut down the New England Italian mafia. This was all being done while Bulger was leader of the Winter Hill Gang. Bulger’s lawyers deny that he was an informant but had planned to use his immunity from a federal prosecutor as a defense at his trial, according to FOX News.
4. He Was an American Criminal Legend
Known to some as a “Robin Hood” figure in Boston’s underworld, Bulger ran the working-class neighborhoods of the city like a tyrant. Prosecutors argued that Bulger used his contacts, through being an informant, with FBI Agent John Connolly, to evade capture in late 1994 and go on the run for nearly two decades.
Bulger’s contacts stretched even further, with his brother William being a former Massachusetts state senator, who upon his retirement was appointed as the president of University of Massachusetts systems.
Whitey escaped in December 1994, disappearing after a tip off from Connolly about impending RICO Act indictments that were to be handed down to Bulger and members of his gang. While he was on-the-lam, Bulger spent time as the the most wanted man in America.
Catherine Greig was Bulger’s only companion during his time as a fugitive. She was one of Bulger’s many girlfriends during his time as the alleged head of Boston’s underworld, but the only one Whitey took on the road.
She was caught with Bulger in Santa Monica, California in July 2011. Greig was subsequently charged with and pleaded guilty to conspiracy to harbor a fugitive, identity fraud, and conspiracy to commit identity fraud. She is serving an eight year prison sentence.
In 2006, the Oscar-winning movie The Departed was made by Martin Scorsese, it starred Jack Nicholson as “Frank Costello,” a character heavily based on Bulger. It drew specifically on the allegations that Bulgers was a turncoat to members of his own organization by supplying information to law-enforcement.
5. Judge Denise Caper Had Told the Jury to Stick to the Facts
You and you alone are the judges of the facts, you must decide the case based on the evidence that you see, and hear, in court.