BOSTON -- Former Boston crime boss James “Whitey” Bulger has been convicted in a string of 11 killings and other underworld crimes.
The 83-year-old Bulger faces life in prison after being convicted Monday of committing or playing a role in the killings during the 1970s and ‘80s while he led the Winter Hill Gang, Boston’s Irish mob.
Bulger was one of the nation’s most-wanted fugitives after he fled Boston ahead of a 1994 indictment. He was captured in Santa Monica, Calif., in 2011.
He is accused of shooting or strangling some of the victims himself. In other cases, he allegedly ordered the slayings or participated in some other way.
Bulger fled Boston in 1994 on the eve of an indictment and was one of the nation’s most-wanted fugitives until his capture. He was arrested in Santa Monica, Calif., in 2011 after 16 years on the run.
A jury at U.S. District Court in Boston on Monday began it its fifth day of deliberations on a 32-count racketeering indictment that includes 19 killings.
Prosecutors say Bulger was a longtime FBI informant who was protected by corrupt FBI agents. Bulger’s lawyers deny that he was an informant and say he paid FBI agents to get information about wiretaps and investigations so he and his cohorts could stay one step ahead of the law.
Within the main racketeering charge against Bulger are 33 separate criminal acts, including all of the killings. The jury must find that Bulger committed at least two of the acts within 10 years of each other to find him guilty of racketeering.
The jury heard testimony from 72 witnesses and saw 840 exhibits during the two-month trial.
In their first hour of deliberations Monday, the jurors asked that if they find a person named in the indictment guilty of a crime, are they to “automatically” find Bulger guilty as well?
In her response, U.S. District Judge Denise Casper said jurors they must find Bulger guilty separately.
But she stressed portions of her earlier jury instructions that explained that even if a defendant didn’t commit the actual murder, he’s still guilty under the racketeering statute if he knowingly participated in the murder “by counseling, hiring, or otherwise procuring such felony to be committed.”