James ‘Whitey’ Bulger says Washington has documents that can prove he had immunity from prosecution
Attorneys for James ‘Whitey’ Bulger on Monday demanded that the US Justice Department be forced to hand over any records it has detailing the connection between Bulger and federal law enforcement, a connection that Bulger claims gave him immunity from prosecution for any crime he committed.
The defense also filed a letter listing potential government witnesses at Bulger’s trial, scheduled to start in June. Bulger, through his attorneys, has said he will take the stand in his own defense and argue that a former federal prosecutor, the now-deceased Jeremiah O’Sullivan, was the person who granted him immunity.
But, in court papers filed in US District Court, Bulger attorney J.W. Carney Jr. said the federal prosecutors have told him they can hand over documents about the Bulger case that are in the custody of the US Attorney Carmen Ortiz’ office in Boston, but they have no authority to provide records from the Washington headquarters of the DOJ.
That must change, Carney wrote, in order for Bulger to obtain the documents – or show no such documents exist – to back up his immunity claim.
“The government has long maintained the fiction that James Bulger was an informant for the FBI. Discovery has been provided indicating that FBI field offices were required to send annual informant reports to FBI headquarters in Washington,’’ Carney wrote.
“The defendant moves for all such reports for all years that James Bulger was characterized as “open” as an informant. If no such reports exist, then their absence directly undermines the government’s claim that James Bulger was an informant,’’ Carney wrote.
In a letter filed with the court, Carney also detailed a list of 53 names that he said prosecutors have identified as potential witnesses for them once the trial begins. Two of the witnesses are believed dead, and three more names are redacted because they are “unindicted co-conspirators’’ according to Carney.
The government witness list includes three Bulger former allies, Stephen ‘The Rifleman’ Flemmi, Kevin Weeks, and John Martorano, all of whom have detailed crimes they allegedly committed with, and for, Bulger.
All three have reached plea deals with federal prosecutors over the years. Flemmi remains imprisoned for 10 murders while Weeks and Martorano are both free after serving their sentences. Martorano admitted murdering 20 people and spent 12 years behind bars; Weeks admitted helping Bulger and Flemmi kill five people.
Carney expects to call Martorano as a defense witness as well as some former federal officials and one-time South Boston crime figures.John R. Ellement can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @JREbosglobe.