Accused mobster James "Whitey" Bulger told a Boston federal judge that he would not take the stand in his own defense against a 32-count indictment, including charges that he helped commit 19 murders, denouncing his trial as a "sham."
In remarks to U.S. District Judge Denise Capser of Boston outside of jury's presence on Friday, Bulger ended days of speculation over whether he would take the stand. "I didn't get a fair trial and this is a sham. Do what you want with me," he said.
Bulger, 83, reportedly was a powerful underworld leader in Boston in the 1970s and 1980s. He was caught in June 2011 in Santa Monica, Calif., after nearly 16 years on the run. His longtime girlfriend Catherine Greig is serving an eight-year sentence for harboring a fugitive.
Bulger's indictment alleges racketeering, conspiracy, money laundering and firearms offenses. Thirty-three acts, including alleged participation in 19 murders, extortion and drug distribution, underpin the racketeering charges.
During a recess to discuss whether he would testify, Bulger began by noting that he made the choice "involuntarily." He said it was because Casper did not allow his lawyers to argue that now-deceased federal prosecutor, Jeremiah O'Sullivan, granted him immunity. He also claimed he protected O'Sullivan's life.
He said he's been "choked off" from the opportunity to give an adequate defense.
Casper replied that she made a legal ruling rejecting Bulger's immunity defense. "I understand if you disagree with it," Casper said.
At that point, Bulger called the proceedings a sham.
Casper later said that lawyers for each side would have three hours and 15 minutes for their closing arguments on Monday. Jury deliberations are set to begin on Tuesday.
The 35-day trial has featured gruesome testimony from former Bulger cronies who cut sentencing deals with the government in exchange for the testimony. A parade of former Federal Bureau of Investigation officials has detailed corruption in the Boston FBI office during Bulger's time.
In June former FBI supervisor John Morris offered dramatic testimony about taking $7,000 in bribes from Bulger, accepting a case of wine and hosting dinner parties for him at his home.
Morris, who has immunity and has testified in related trials, also described disclosing the identity of a witness who was in danger to former corrupt FBI agent John Connolly Jr. The witness, Brian Halloran, and Michael Donahue, an innocent bystander, were gunned down soon after in 1982.
Connolly was convicted in 2002 and sentenced to 10 years prison for racketeering, obstruction of justice and lying to the FBI about Bulger and his associates. In 2011, Connolly started serving a sentence on a 2008 second-degree murder conviction.
Last month, former Bulger associate Stephen Flemmi testified that Bulger gave Connolly Jr. $230,000 plus vacations.
Sheri Qualters can be contacted at email@example.com.