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Whitey Bulger's victims have been 'denied justice,' deserve swift trial, prosecutors say

June 28, 2011 | 12:09 pm

Bulger

Federal prosecutors said Tuesday they want to get James "Whitey" Bulger on trial "as soon as possible," saying the families of the 19 people he's accused of killing deserve justice.

U.S. Atty. Carmen Ortiz said in court papers filed in Boston that there was "substantial public interest in ensuring the defendant faces the most serious charges before the end of his natural life. The 19 families of murder victims have been denied justice for many years because the defendant has successfully eluded law enforcement apprehension," Oritz wrote.
"The U.S. attorney is committed to seeing that this defendant, who is now 81 years old, is called to account as soon as possible...."
Oritz announced prosecutors were dropping a 1994 racketeering indictment against Bulger in an effort to concentrate on a stronger case involving 19 murder charges against him. That indictment charged Bulger with multiple counts of extortion, loan sharking, witness tampering and conspiracy. A corrupt FBI agent allegedly tipped Bulger off to his impending arrest in that case and led Bulger to flee authorities.

New murder and racketeering charges were added in 1999 when members of his crime syndicate became informants for the government.

FBI agents are analyzing two cellphones found at the Santa Monica apartment of Bulger, hoping they can provide clues as to whether the Boston mobster received help during his 14 years as a fugitive.

In court papers filed this week, U.S. prosecutors said the phones as well as other undisclosed items were found at the apartment.

Authorities are trying to figure out how Bulger -- one of the FBI's 10 most wanted fugitives -- was able to live fairly openly in Santa Monica. One key question is whether he got financial help. The FBI found more than $800,000 in cash inside the walls of the apartment.

In an interview with the FBI on a flight from Los Angeles to Boston, Bulger admitted that he “previously stashed money with people he trusted." But he did not say whether anyone was hiding assets for him now, according to the court records.

In court Friday in Boston, Bulger asked for a government-paid defense attorney, saying he didn't have the money to hire his own. Prosecutors scoffed at that notion.

Photos: The hunt for James "Whitey" Bulger

“He was found with $800,000 in cash," said Assistant U.S. Atty. Brian T. Kelly. “We think he has access to more."

The cellphone could also help explain how Bulger was able to communicate with his associates without his true identity being discovered by those he saw every day.

Court documents detailed statements Bulger made to federal agents during the flight to Boston in which he said he had traveled -- sometimes armed and disguised -- to locations that included not only his hometown but also Las Vegas, San Diego and Tijuana, the court papers said.

In an effort to ascertain his true assets, Ortiz urged the court to further inquire about the matter by interviewing the accused mobster's brothers, John Bulger and William M. Bulger, who is the former president of the Massachusetts state Senate and president of the University of Massachusetts.

"James Bulger stands accused of an avalanche of serious charges," Ortiz wrote in the five-page response to Bulger's claim that he could not afford a lawyer. She noted, "[H]e has every incentive to lie and stick the taxpayers with the bill for his defense."

RELATED:

Full coverage: Get the latest on Bulger's arrest

Fugitive Boston mob boss is arrested in Santa Monica

Whitey Bulger, a savvy, feared fugitive, is found frail and paranoid

'America's Most Wanted' tipster said he saw Whitey Bulger playing chess in Santa Monica in 2008

-- Andrew Blankstein and Richard Winton

Photo: A courtroom sketch depicts James "Whitey" Bulger during his initial appearance Friday in a federal courtroom in Boston. Also depicted are his brother William Bulger, left, and Judge Marianne Bowler. Credit: Associated Press

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