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Whitey Bulger Trial: Lawyer for reputed mob boss under fire from prosecutors for comments to media, report says

James "Whitey" Bulger AP Photo

J.W. Carney Jr., the lawyer for James "Whitey" Bulger, is under fire from prosecutors for statements he made to the media.
WBZ Boston

UPDATE: Whitey Bulger Found Guilty

(CBS) BOSTON -- A lawyer for reputed mob boss James "Whitey" Bulger is drawing fire from prosecutors for comments he made to the media Thursday praising the jury, which is in its fourth day of deliberations.

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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 19 murders, six extortions, and conspiracy to sell drugs, Boston.com reported.

The case was turned over to the jury shortly before 11 a.m. Tuesday after more than seven weeks of testimony. Friday marked their fourth day of deliberations.

Prosecutor Brian Kelly on Friday brought to court a copy of a story in the Boston Herald, in which defense attorney J.W. Carney Jr. is quoted, WBZ Boston reports via Twitter. 

"[The jury has] taken their constitutional role with great seriousness and are clearly looking closely at the evidence and evaluating the validity of witnesses," Carney is quoted as saying in the Herald story. "The longer the jury stays out, the more it shows us they are as conscientious a jury as I have ever seen. And I know the prosecutors believe that and the judge believes that."

Kelly asked the judge to admonish Carney for the statements, calling them "an obvious attempt" to influence the panel of 12.

Carney says he was making a "neutral" comment. Judge Denise Casper did not take any immediate action. She took the copy of the story with her into her chambers, WBZ reports.

According to reports, Carney on Thursday took of his shoe and showed his purple-painted toenails to reporters, telling them he's been getting pedicures ever since receiving a gift certificate from his daughter.

Kelly referenced that in his statement to the judge, saying that it was fine if Carney wanted to talk about his strange habits with the media, but that he shouldn't discuss the trial, WBZ reports. 

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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