James “Whitey” Bulger, a brutal gangster who ruled over Boston’s criminal underworld in the 1970s and 1980s, and who evaded capture for 16 years, was found guilty of murder and racketeering by a jury on Monday and will likely spend the rest of his life in prison.
The 83-year-old Bulger, dressed in a gray shirt, dark pants and white sneakers, stood quietly as the verdict was read, showing little emotional response to the decision by jurors to convict him after five days of deliberation in Boston federal court. His sentencing was scheduled for Nov. 13.
A legendary figure in Boston’s underworld, Bulger ran the “Winter Hill” crime gang after coming to power in a mob war that resulted in the death of members of rival gangs. He cemented his grip on Boston’s crime scene through ties with corrupt FBI officials who shared his Irish ethnicity and turned a blind eye to his crimes in exchange for information they could use against the Italian Mafia.
During the two month-long trial, the 12 jurors heard vivid descriptions of Bulger’s crimes. They included brazen daylight shootings of fellow criminals, the terrifying extortion of a victim at whose crotch Bulger aimed a machine gun and how one associate would pull teeth from the mouths of dead victims, hoping to make the bodies harder to identify.
Nicknamed “Whitey” because of the shock of light-colored hair he had as a young man, Bulger fled Boston in 1994 after a tip from a corrupt agent that his arrest was imminent.
He spent 16 years on the run, many of them on the FBI’s “Ten Most Wanted” list, along with al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden until May 2011, when bin Laden was killed. Agents caught up with Bulger in June 2011, living in a seaside Santa Monica, California, apartment.
The jury convicted him of all but one of 32 criminal counts.