Former reputed crime boss James "Whitey" Bulger has pleaded not guilty to a racketeering indictment that accuses him of participating in 19 murders.

The plea in Boston federal court Wednesday by Bulger, a former FBI informant, came 16 years after he fled following a federal agent's warning on a separate, pending indictment.

Bulger escaped prosecution until he was captured last month in California.

The arraignment comes after Bulger's attorney asked a judge to appoint his law partner to help him defend the 81-year-old Bulger.

J.W. Carney Jr. was appointed last week after a magistrate judge found Bulger to be indigent. Carney is asking that attorney Janice Bassil be appointed to help him with a case he says has a "host of complex legal issues."