James 'Whitey' Bulger Pleads Not Guilty

By Sarah Birnbaum

July 6, 2011

BOSTON — Reputed mobster James "Whitey" Bulger pled "not guilty" Wednesday to an indictment accusing him of participating in 19 murders.

The 81-year-old former gangster was the leader of the notorious Winter Hill Gang, a Boston outfit involved in drugs, loansharking, extortion and murder. He was also an informant for the FBI, and provided the agency with information on his rivals in the New England mob. He fled Boston in 1995 when his FBI handler tipped him off that the government was building a case against him, and was discovered last month in Santa Monica.

Last week, a federal judge granted Bulger access to a public defender paid for by taxpayers. The lawyer is Jay Carney Jr., a veteran Boston criminal defense attorney, who previously represented the gunman behind the 1994 shooting spree at two Brookline abortion clinics. Legal observers say Carney is well-suited to the job of defending Bulger, but Carney is asking that attorney Janice Bassil be appointed to help him with what he says will be a very "complex" case.

In a separate ruling last week, a judge granted the prosecution's request to drop an earlier indictment against Bulger to focus on the murder charges.

Bulger is currently being held in the Plymouth House of Correction. If convicted, he faces life in prison. He may also face the death penalty in Florida and Oklahoma, where he is wanted on murder charges.

Material from the Associated Press was used in this report.

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