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Jury finds 'Whitey' Bulger guilty of racketeering, conspiracy

 

Jurors in the trial of James "Whitey" Bulger, the onetime Boston gang boss, have found him guilty of racketeering and conspiracy.

Bulger, 83, wearing a gray long sleeve shirt, dark trousers and white sneakers, stood stoically and showed no reaction as the verdict was read.

Bulger was charged primarily with racketeering, a catchall offense that listed 33 criminal acts -- among them, 19 murders that he allegedly helped orchestrate or carried out himself during the 1970s and '80s while he led the Winter Hill Gang, Boston's ruthless Irish mob.

After four and a half days of deliberations, the jury decided he took part in 11 of those murders and found him guilty of a laundry list of other crimes, including extortion conspiracy, possession of firearms and machine guns in furtherance of a violent crime, possession of unregistered machine guns, transfer and possession of machine guns, possession of firearms with obliterated serial numbers and 21 counts of concealing money laundering acts.

The jury also found Bulger guilty of playing a role in the murders of Paul McGonagle, Edward Connors, Thomas King, Richard Castucci, Roger Wheeler, Brian Halloran, Michael Donahue, John Callahan, Arthur "Bucky" Barrett, John McIntyre and Deborah Hussey, and the extortion of Richard O'Brien, Michael Solimando, Stephen Rakes, Julie Rakes, Richard Buscheri and Raymond Slinger.  

A sentencing hearing for Bulger is tentatively scheduled for Nov. 13 and is expected to take several days. Bulger could get life in prison.

J.W. Carney Jr., who served as Bulger's attorney, said in a statement after the verdict was read that he was pleased at how the trial went and even pleased at the outcome.

He said, for Bulger, it was "important to him government corruption is being exposed.”

The federal jury began deliberating Tuesday and deliberated nearly five days. 

On Monday, leading up to the verdict, the jury came into the courtroom and asked for a clarification from the judge. 

They asked if they found someone else is guilty, whether or not that would make Bulger "automatically" guilty as well because he's associated.

Carney Jr. argued that evidence proven against someone else doesn't mean Bulger is guilty.

In her response, U.S. District Judge Denise Casper said jurors 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."

Prosecutors say Bulger was a longtime FBI informant who was protected by corrupt FBI agents. Bulger's lawyers have strongly denied 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.

The jury heard testimony from 72 witnesses and saw 840 exhibits during the two-month trial.

Bulger fled Boston in 1994 on the eve of an indictment and was one of the nation's most-wanted fugitives until his capture in Santa Monica, Calif., in 2011.

Bulger said he'll forfeit the guns and $822,000 in cash that officials found in his California apartment, but he wants to keep one thing: a Stanley Cup ring.

In a document filed last week and signed by Bulger, the 83-year-old said the ring commemorating the NHL championship series was a gift from an unnamed "third party."

Because it was a gift, it's not among assets directly acquired from Bulger's alleged crimes that the government is trying to force him to forfeit, such as the wads of cash found hidden in his apartment's walls. And in the document Bulger said he doesn't want to give the ring up.

"The defendant elects to have the forfeitability of this specific property decided by the court," the document reads.

The court document gave no details about the ring or who gave it to him.

Even if the court decides Bulger doesn't have to forfeit the ring, the government could later seek to keep it as it pursues Bulger assets unrelated to his alleged crimes. The US attorney's office has said it wants to return as much as possible to Bulger's innocent victims.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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