June 25 (Bloomberg) -- James “Whitey” Bulger, the accused Boston mobster arrested in California with $800,000, was given three days to show why a lawyer should be appointed to represent him at taxpayer expense.
Bulger, 81, and his girlfriend, Catherine Greig, 60, made initial appearances in federal court in Boston yesterday after a trip from California. Bulger, who was a fugitive for 16 years, didn’t oppose his continued detention while awaiting arraignment. Wearing jeans and a white hooded sweatshirt, he was led out of the courtroom in handcuffs by U.S. Marshals.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Brian Kelly said prosecutors oppose any kind of taxpayer-funded attorney for Bulger, saying he has “family resources available.” Bulger was asked by Magistrate Judge Marianne Bowler if he could afford an attorney.
“Not after you took my money,” Bulger responded. More than $800,000 in cash and more than 30 firearms, along with false identification, were found in Bulger’s apartment after his arrest, the Federal Bureau of Investigation said.
“We think he has more access to cash,” Kelly said. “We clearly don’t think this was his last stash.”
The government seized all of Bulger’s assets, said Peter Krupp, a lawyer appointed to provisionally represent him. Bowler gave Krupp until the close of business on June 27 to make any filings regarding the appointment of lawyers to represent Bulger. She gave Bulger the same deadline to file a financial affidavit.
Winter Hill Gang
Bulger is described in a 111-page indictment dated May 23, 2001, as a leader of a criminal organization known as the “Bulger Group” and “Winter Hill Gang.”
The gangs committed extortion, loan sharking, bookmaking, narcotics trafficking and murder, beginning about 1972, the government said. Bulger was wanted in connection with 19 murders.
Bulger may face life in prison or the death penalty if he is convicted of murder, depending on the jurisdiction, Carmen M. Ortiz, the U.S. attorney for Massachusetts, said.
Greig, who fled with Bulger in 1995, was charged in an April 1997 complaint in federal court in Boston with harboring and concealing him from arrest. If convicted, she may face a five-year prison term.
After appearing yesterday before U.S. Magistrate Judge Jennifer Boal, Greig was returned to the custody of U.S. Marshals. She is scheduled to return to court June 28 for a hearing on bail.
Entering the courtroom yesterday, Bulger mouthed the word “hello” to his brother William, who was seated in the second row. Greig’s twin sister, Margaret McCusker, also attended yesterday’s court appearances.
William Bulger served as president of the Massachusetts Senate from 1978 to 1996 and later became president of the University of Massachusetts. While president of the university, he appeared before a U.S. House committee and refused to answer questions about his brother’s whereabouts, citing his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination.
Bulger and Greig were arrested June 22 in Santa Monica, California, after FBI agents and Los Angeles police put an apartment building under surveillance and lured Bulger outside with an undisclosed ruse, said FBI agent Richard DesLauriers.
The arrests came as the result of a tip received the day before generated as the result of an ad campaign about Greig. The ads ran in 14 cities starting this week and targeted women who were the same age as Greig and might have been her co-worker, hair-stylist or neighbor.
The tip was received by the FBI’s Los Angeles office. While the ads didn’t run in Los Angeles, news coverage of the campaign aired in that market on national news and cable outlets, DesLauriers said.
U.S. District Judge Mark L. Wolf was assigned to preside over Bulger’s case. It was in Wolf’s courtroom in 1998 that Bulger’s partner, Stephen Flemmi, revealed that he and Bulger were FBI informants and had been promised immunity from prosecution.
Bulger’s group was also linked to illegally shipping arms to the Irish Republican Army and importing about 36 tons of marijuana into the U.S., both in 1984, prosecutors said.
In the 1980s and early 1990s, Bulger worked as an informant on mob activities for the FBI in Boston, according to the agency. He was indicted in January 1995 for racketeering violations, including activities while he was an informant. Five years later he was indicted for multiple murders.
Bulger, who was born in Boston, has a violent temper and was known to frequent libraries and historic sites, the FBI said. He carried a knife and kept physically fit by walking on the beach, the agency said.
Another girlfriend of Bulger’s cooperated with the government in trying to track down the fugitive in 1996, according to a 1997 FBI affidavit in support of the criminal complaint against Greig. The woman, who told the FBI she had been Bulger’s girlfriend for 20 years, found out in 1994 that he had been involved with Greig as well during that time.
The former girlfriend told the FBI in 1996 that, after Bulger was charged in January of 1995, he returned to Massachusetts and picked up Greig, according to the affidavit.
In 2008, the FBI doubled its $1 million reward for information leading to Bulger’s capture. Officials said the disposition of the reward -- and a $100,000 reward for Greig -- is undetermined.
DesLauriers, the special agent in charge of the FBI’s Boston division, said speculation that the bureau knew of Bulger’s whereabouts before this week’s advertising campaign was wrong.
“Any claim that the FBI knew Mr. Bulger’s whereabouts prior to the FBI’s publicity efforts this week are completely unfounded,” DesLauriers said in a statement posted on the website of the FBI’s Boston division. “When we learned his location, he was arrested promptly.”
The case is U.S. v. Bulger, 94-cr-10287, U.S. District Court, District of Massachusetts (Boston.)
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