James "Whitey" Bulger is looking for legal representation. But can he afford it? The alleged Boston mobster was to go before a judge at a Tuesday hearing on whether he can put up the cash for an attorney.
But has all of his money been confiscated? CBS News Legal Analyst Jack Ford said on "The Early Show" that's what officials are trying to figure out.
Investigators say Bulger and his longtime girlfriend, Catherine Greig, lived "a relatively comfortable lifestyle" while on the lam for 16 years. But is the $822,198 in cash the FBI says it found in the couple's Santa Monica apartment last week their sole source of assets?
Ford said, "The federal system has a public defender arrangement the way the states do. And the deal is, and we all know the warnings, 'If you don't have an attorney, can't afford one, we'll provide one to you.' But the government doesn't want to be paying for a lawyer if somebody has, as we heard 'Whitey' Bulger talk about, $800,000 stashed in a wall someplace. Or if they have assets someplace else."
Ford explained. "The government is saying, 'All right, let's find out if he does have assets that somebody is sitting on that could be used to pay for his lawyer so we, the government, don't have to.' The other is, you know, I think the prosecution is trying to get a head start on taking a look at, 'What other assets does he have out there? Because if we do convict him here, one of the things we're going to do is (and they traditionally do is), we're going to try to grab all those assets and bring them back to us.' I think they're trying to do both things at the same time here."
So what does Bulger say about affording a lawyer?
At a hearing last week, Bulger told the judge, "Well, I could (afford one), if they would give me my money back."
Meanwhile, Bulger's 60-year-old girlfriend, Greig, has obtained a defender -- high-profile Boston-area attorney Kevin Reddington. If convicted, she faces five years in prison for harboring 81-year-old Bulger.
Ford said Greig's lawyers will want to know what she knew about Bulger and what he was doing.
"If she did know, was she just under such duress that she was afraid to either leave him or go to the authorities? Or, was she an active participant? Was she helping out these things?" Ford said. "Then I'm going ... to talk to the prosecutors and say, 'All right, what can we do for you? How can we help you in this case here? And then what can you do for us,' so that, you know, she's not going to spend as much time, or maybe no time at all in jail. So it all depends on what her relationship really was, but I'm sure her lawyer is actively talking right now to the prosecutor and is saying, 'Can we work out some kind of deal here. Helps you and helps us."'
Bulger seemed to disappear into thin air 16 years ago when he became one of America's most wanted. But as new details emerge about the once feared alleged gangster and his girlfriend, it turns out their life on the lam may not necessarily have been a life on the run.
According to a filing by the U.S. Attorney's Office in Massachusetts, after waiving his Miranda rights, Bulger told investigators he was living a life of leisure, taking numerous trips to Las Vegas to play the slots, where he claimed to win more than he lost.
CBS News Correspondent Betty Nguyen reported Bulger traveled to San Diego, where he would cross the border into Mexico to purchase medicine, and, most surprisingly, the alleged former head of Boston's Winter Hill Gang says he returned to his former hometown on several occasions, in disguise, "'armed to the teeth" because he "had to take care of some unfinished business.'"
That even surprised Kevin Weeks, who says he was a longtime lieutenant of Bulger's.
Weeks told CBS News, "If he's armed to the teeth, I would imagine he was looking for people."
Bulger faces numerous charges, including racketeering and 19 counts of murder.