Whitey Bulger has no redeeming qualities and should be sentenced to life, prosecutors say
Federal prosecutors said today that notorious gangster James “Whitey”Bulger “has no redeeming qualities” and should be sentenced next week to life in prison for killing 11 people while running a sprawling criminal enterprise.
“There are no mitigating factors, and defendant Bulger has no redeeming qualities, which would justify any sentence below the one called for by the US Sentencing Guidelines and the applicable case law and statutes,” prosecutors wrote in a sentencing memorandum filed in federal court in Boston.
US District Court Judge Denise J. Casper will hear from the families of Bulger’s victims, defense lawyers, and prosecutors on Nov. 13 and sentence the gangster the following day. Bulger, 84, who did not take the stand during his eight-week trial last summer, will be offered an opportunity to speak before he is sentenced.
Bulger was convicted in August of racketeering, money laundering, extortion and illegal possession of handguns and machine guns. Jurors found that while running a racketeering enterprise between 1972 and 2000, Bulger participated in drug trafficking and 11 of 19 murders he was accused of, including the strangulation of 26-year-old Deborah Hussey and the slayings of several FBI informants.
Jurors found prosecutors failed to prove Bulger participated in seven murders he was accused of, and the jury was unable to reach a verdict on allegations that he strangled a second woman, 26-year-old Debra Davis.
The gangster, who had been one of the FBI’s 10 Most Wanted, was captured in Santa Monica, Calif., in June 2011 after more than 16 years on the run.
In their memorandum, prosecutors called Bulger “one of the most violent and despicable criminals in Boston history” and said sentencing guidelines call for a mandatory life prison term for his conviction on racketeering counts that involve multiple murders.
In addition, they said Bulger faces a mandatory consecutive life sentence for his conviction on a charge of possessing machine guns while committing violent crimes.
“Presiding over a massive criminal enterprise, Bulger extorted dozens of individuals, flooded South Boston with cocaine, shot innocent people, strangled women, murdered his competitors, corrupted FBI agents, and then ran ran away and hid for sixteen years when he was finally indicted,” prosecutors wrote. They argued that Bulger deserves no mercy and urged the judge to sentence him to life in prison, followed by the second life sentence for possession of machine guns and a five-year sentence for possession of handguns.
Bulger’s lawyers could not immediately be reached for comment today. They have said Bulger will appeal his conviction, arguing that he should have been allowed to present his claim that a deceased former prosecutor promised him immunity from prosecution decades ago for all crimes, including murder.
The defense spent much of the trial trying to persuade jurors that Bulger was not an informant, despite a hefty FBI file indicating that he was. Bulger’s lawyers argued Bulger paid corrupt FBI agents for information and that his so-called handler, John J. Connolly Jr., fabricated his file to cover up their corrupt relationship.
Prosecutors said in their memorandum that Bulger “chose to go to trial and play an elaborate game of ‘Let’s Pretend,’” with his claims that he wasn’t an informant and had been given immunity. They said he declined to offer any proof prior to trial of his claim that he had immunity,
Prosecutors said Bulger also tried to block members of the media from covering his trial by listing reporters “whom he most despised” — including Boston Globe columnist Kevin Cullen, Shelley Murphy [the author of this article], Boston Herald columnist Howie Carr and former Boston Globe reporter Dick Lehr, as defense witnesses and asking that they be sequestered. After the judge refused to sequester the reporters — which would have prohibited them from attending the trial — the defense dropped them as witnesses.Shelley Murphy can be reached at Shelley.Murphy@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @shelleymurph.