Saturday 24 February 2018

Victim's son: 'James 'Whitey' Bulger is Satan'

Former mob boss and fugitive James
Former mob boss and fugitive James "Whitey" Bulger

Scott Malone

The son of one of James 'Whitey' Bulger's victims called the Boston mobster 'Satan' as prosecutors sked a judge to send the aging former crime boss to prison for the rest of his life.

The first survivor of one of Bulger's victims to take the stand, Sean McGonagle, addressed Bulger as "Satan" before recalling in 1974 how the defendant had murdered his father, Paul, when Sean was 11 years old.

Prosecutors called convicted mobster James "Whitey" Bulger a "sociopath" who reigned brutally over Boston in the 1970s and '80s, and asked a judge to send the aging former crime boss to prison for the rest of his life.

Bulger, 84, sat quietly in court, dressed in an orange prison jumpsuit, having instructed his attorneys not to participate in the sentencing hearing, which one of his attorneys said Bulger regarded as "a sham."

U.S. District Judge Denise Casper set two days for Bulger's sentencing, the closing chapter in a case that saw the mobster convicted in August of murdering 11 people following a two-month trial rife with bloody tales of gun-toting mobsters mowing down rivals and unlucky bystanders.

Casper said she would allow testimony from surviving family members of the 11 victims Bulger was convicted of murdering as well as others whose deaths prosecutors attributed to Bulger, head of the Winter Hill gang that once reigned over Boston's underworld.

"The carnage that he has caused is grotesque. And that doesn't even complete the picture of this defendant, who really is a sociopath," said Assistant U.S. Attorney Brian Kelly.

U.S. prosecutors have asked Casper to sentence Bulger to two life terms plus five years after his conviction on 31 criminal counts in a sprawling racketeering indictment that charged him with extortion and drug-dealing, in addition to murder.

One of Bulger's attorneys, Henry Brennan, said Bulger had instructed his lawyers not to participate in the sentencing.

"He believes the trial was a sham. In consequence he has directed us to take no position in that process," Brennan said.

Noting that Bulger's defense had spent much of the energy at the trial arguing Bulger had never served as an informant to the Federal Bureau of Investigation, rather than on denying the criminal charges, Kelly questioned Bulger's assertion that the trial had been a "sham."

"He desperately wants people to believe he wasn't an FBI informant," Kelly said. "That's the sham in this case, not the trial."

Bulger's trial was raw, broken by outbursts in which former gangmates-turned-prosecution witnesses swore at the man who lived on the lam for 16 years, many of them on the FBI's "Most Wanted" list.

Bulger's story has captivated the city for years. He rose from a South Boston housing project to become the most feared person in the city at the same time as his brother, William, became the president of the Massachusetts state Senate.

Helped by a relationship with a corrupt FBI agent who shared Bulger's Irish ancestry and was willing to turn a blind eye to his crimes in exchange for information on the Italian-American Mafia, Bulger ruled violently over Boston's criminal world.

In 1994, on a tip that arrest was imminent, he fled the city. Agents caught up with him in June 2011, living in a Santa Monica, California, apartment with his girlfriend, a cache of weapons and $800,000 in cash.

The first survivor of one of Bulger's victims to take the stand, Sean McGonagle, addressed Bulger as "Satan" before recalling in 1974 how the defendant had murdered his father, Paul, when Sean was 11 years old.

"In 1975, you called and said 'Your father is not coming home for Christmas.' When asked who this is, you stated, 'Santa Claus,'" McGonagle said. "Today I hope we find some semblance of peace and closure."

Reuters

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