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"Whitey" Bulger Trial: Reputed mob boss won't testify, calls trial "a sham"

Former mob boss "Whitey" Bulger, found in Santa Monica after being on the run for 16 years, appeared in a Boston court and pleaded not guilty to charges of murder and racketeering. AP Photo

Whitey Bulger
James "Whitey" Bulger
AP Photo
(CBS/AP) BOSTON - James "Whitey" Bulger revealed Friday that he wouldn't be testifying in his own defense, but he said the decision was "involuntary" and that his racketeering trial was a "sham."

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Defense attorney J.W. Carney Jr. met with Bulger on Friday morning and returned to the courtroom to tell Judge Denise Casper that he had finished presenting witnesses.

Bulger then told the judge, without the jury present, that he had decided not to testify "involuntarily."

"I feel that I've been choked off from having an opportunity to give an adequate defense," he said. "As far as I'm concerned, I didn't get a fair trial. This is a sham."

He railed about the judge's decision prohibiting his lawyers from using an immunity defense. Bulger has claimed he received immunity from a now-deceased federal prosecutor. Casper ruled before trial that that was not a legal defense to crimes including murder.

Bulger, 83, is on trial in a broad racketeering indictment that accuses him of participating in 19 murders in the 1970s and '80s as leader of the Winter Hill Gang. He has pleaded not guilty.

Bulger fled Boston in 1994. He was one of the nation's most wanted fugitives until he was captured in Santa Monica, Calif., in 2011.

It was also revealed Friday that Bulger wants $822,000 in cash seized from his apartment in Santa Monica, Calif. to go to relatives of victims who won monetary judgments in lawsuits but then saw those awards overturned on appeal because the statue of limitations had expired.

Defense attorney J.W. Carney Jr. told Judge Denise Casper that Bulger made the request while lawyers were discussing whether the seized cash should be put in the jury room during deliberations.

It appears that two families fall into that category: Relatives of Michael Donahue and Edward "Brian" Halloran. In 2011, the 1st U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals upheld an earlier decision that ruled the two families didn't file their lawsuits against the FBI in time.

Other victims' families have had their lawsuits tossed before trial and some have won judgments against the government, but Carney specifically cited those whose judgments were thrown out by the 1st Circuit.

Prosecutor Brian Kelly said it has always been the intention of the government to give Bulger's seized assets to victims' families, but he said he isn't sure Bulger "can dictate which ones get" money.

If he's convicted, Bulger would have to give up his assets anyway. It is routine for the government to seek forfeiture of assets acquired through illegal activities.

Complete coverage of the Whitey Bulger case on Crimesider

  • Crimesider Staff

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