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Whitey Bulger Trial: Judge tells jury to try to reach verdict on each racketeering allegation, including murders

James "Whitey" Bulger AP Photo

Whitey Bulger
Former mob boss James "Whitey" Bulger is on trial for racketeering.
AP Photo

(CBS) BOSTON - As they resumed deliberations for a third day Thursday, a federal judge told the jury in the trial of James "Whitey" Bulger to try to reach verdicts on all of the 33 criminal acts included in a racketeering charge against the reputed mob boss. The criminal acts include the 19 murders Bulger allegedly participated in.

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The alleged former leader of South Boston's notorious Winter Hill crime gang is charged in a broad 32-count indictment that accuses him of raking in millions from drug trafficking and extortion. One of the counts, a federal racketeering charge, covers 33 criminal acts including the murders, six extortions, and conspiracy to sell drugs, Boston.com reported.

The case was turned over to the jury Tuesday after more than seven weeks of testimony. Wednesday, the panel of 12 asked a judge whether they needed to be unanimous in deciding the government didn't prove its case against Bulger for any particular racketeering act, WBZ Boston reported. A judge informed them they should be unanimous in any decision, but to leave the count blank if they couldn't decide.

Thursday morning, a judge clarified that instruction, granting a request from prosecutors, Boston.com reported - telling the jury, "You have a duty to attempt to reach agreement on each of the racketeering acts, if you can do so conscientiously."

A judge also told the panel Wednesday they needed only find Bulger guilty of two of the 33 acts covered in the racketeering charged order to find him guilty of racketeering.

Steve Davis, the brother of murder victim Debra Davis, told Boston.com he feared that the jury may have passed over the allegation that Bulger killed his sister without further clarification from the judge.

Bulger is charged with orchestrating or committing the killings during the 1970s and '80s while he allegedly led the notorious Winter Hill Gang, a crew of mostly Irish-American gangsters.

Bulger was one of the nation's most wanted fugitives after he fled Boston in 1994 ahead of an indictment. During his 16 years on the run, his secret relationship with the FBI as an informant was revealed, embarrassing the FBI and exposing corruption within the bureau.

Bulger, now 83, was finally captured in Santa Monica, Calif., in 2011, where he had been living in a rent-controlled apartment near the beach with his longtime girlfriend.

In the racketeering indictment, Bulger is accused of being a hands-on boss who killed anyone he saw as a potential rival or danger to the gang. He is accused of shooting or strangling some of the victims himself. In other cases, he allegedly ordered the slayings, or participated in some other way.

He is also accused of making millions by extorting drug dealers, bookmakers and legitimate businessmen by threatening to hurt or kill them or their families.

Bulger's lawyers strongly denied that Bulger was ever an informant and told jurors the government's three main witnesses - all once-loyal Bulger cohorts - were pathological liars who blamed Bulger for crimes they committed so they could get reduced sentences.

Complete coverage of the Whitey Bulger case on Crimesider

  • Erin Donaghue

    Erin Donaghue covers crime for CBSNews.com's Crimesider.

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