June 30, 2011
BOSTON -- James "Whitey" Bulger will have a taxpayer-funded attorney, and won't be facing a racketeering indictment levied against him in 1994.
That's the word after back-to-back hearings on Thursday that gave the public their first glimpse of the former mob boss since he was escorted back to Boston by federal agents last week.
Judge Mark Wolf granted a bid by prosecutors to dismiss a 1994 racketeering indictment against former mob boss James "Whitey" Bulger so they can focus on a later indictment charging him with participating in 19 murders.
He said prosecutors were within their rights to dismiss the case and rejected a claim by Bulger's lawyer that prosecutors were "judge shopping."
During a second hearing, Magistrate Judge Marianne Bowler on Thursday determined that Bulger is indigent and meets the requirements for a court-appointed attorney. She appointed J.W. Carney Jr. to represent Bulger.
Bulger's provisional lawyer, Peter Krupp, had argued that his client could not pay for his defense. He said the government has seized Bulger's assets, including more than $800,000 in cash found in his Santa Monica, Calif., apartment when he was captured last week after 16 years on the run.
Prosecutors argued that Bulger had family members who could help him pay for his attorney.
Bulger, the former leader of the notorious Winter Hill Gang, was captured in Santa Monica, Calif., last week after 16 years on the run. He fled Boston just before the first indictment was made public in January 1995.
Bulger's provisional attorney, Peter Krupp, had argued in court that prosecutors decided to charge his client in connection with the murders in a new indictment because they were trying to avoid having Wolf hear the case.
Wolf was a pivotal figure in the Bulger case. He held a series of hearings in the 1990s that exposed the corrupt relationship between Bulger and the Boston FBI. Bulger was an FBI information who fed his handlers dirt on his gang's main rival, the New England Mob.
"It looks like they are trying to avoid this court as the judicial officer and that's judge shopping, in my view," Krupp said.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Fred Wyshak Jr. said the later indictment, which includes the murder charges, is the government's "best and strongest case."
The families of the 19 murder victims have been waiting for years for justice, Wyshak said.
The prosecutor also blasted Bulger for trying to seek a tactical advantage in court after spending years in hiding.
"He's the one who has been a fugitive for 16 years. He's the one who ran away ... He shouldn't be able to gain a tactical advantage for that at this point," Wyshak said.
FULL COVERAGE: "WHITEY" BULGER CAPTURED