Federal prosecutors dropped older charges against accused Boston gangster James “Whitey” Bulger so they can focus on “more serious” charges of murder and racketeering.
U.S. Attorney Carmen Ortiz in Boston won’t pursue a 1994 indictment of Bulger for extortion and instead will focus on accusations made in 1999 that he participated in 19 murders, according to a court filing. Bulger, 81, would spend the rest of his life in prison if convicted in connection with any murders with a predicate act of racketeering, Ortiz said in the filing.
The evidence in the newer case is stronger while the older one weakened during the 16 years Bulger was on the run from authorities, Ortiz said, noting that at least two key witnesses have died.
“The U.S. attorney has determined that it is in the public interest to focus her prosecutorial resources on pursuing the most serious charges and the most provable case against the defendant,” Ortiz wrote.
Bulger and his girlfriend, Catherine Greig, 60, were arrested last week after the Federal Bureau of Investigation, acting on a tip, lured the fugitive out of a Santa Monica, California, apartment.
In addition to the murders, Bulger was wanted for crimes including extortion, loan sharking, bookmaking and drug trafficking. He was one of the FBI’s Top 10 most-wanted fugitives. The bureau offered a $2 million reward for information leading to his capture.
The older case is U.S. v. DeLuca, 94-cr-10287, U.S. District Court, District of Massachusetts (Boston). The newer case is U.S. v. Weeks, 99-cr-10371, U.S. District Court, District of Massachusetts (Boston).