Prosecutors: ‘Whitey’ Bulger said on jailhouse tape he paid off agents, undercutting immunity claim
Notorious gangster James “Whitey” Bulger claimed he was never an FBI informant, but paid FBI agents instead for information, according to a jailhouse telephone conversation with his brother last September that was recorded by authorities.
“I bought [expletive] information, I didn’t sell it,” Bulger, 83, said during the Sept. 11, 2012 call to his younger brother, John, from the Plymouth County Correctional Facility. “I never gave them [expletive] information. Nothin’. Nothin.’”
The conversation was detailed by prosecutors in a filing late today in federal court in Boston. Prosecutors are urging a judge to decide Bulger’s claim that he was granted immunity for all his crimes, including murder. Bulger claims a former federal prosecutor, who died in 2009, promised him immunity. He wants a jury, not a judge, to decide his immunity claim when he goes to trial in June in a sweeping federal racketeering case charging him with participating in 19 murders.
Prosecutors argued that Bulger’s jailhouse conversation with his brother is proof that the gangster didn’t have immunity, because if he did, he wouldn’t have paid off FBI agents or fled to avoid prosecution for so many years.
“I’m up to my [expletive] ears in it,” said James Bulger, who has been reviewing FBI reports that were turned over to his defense team and include his own informant file, containing information he is credited with providing to his long-time handler, disgraced former agent John J. Connolly Jr.
“I was accused … I never, I didn’t know that [expletive] John Connolly wrote all those reports and the other guy – what they did is they wrote reports making themselves look like Whitey told us what – I never told them a [expletive] thing,” Whitey complained to his brother.
Bulger’s claim is contradicted by FBI records filed in previous court proceedings that indicate he served as Connolly’s informant from 1975 to 1990.
Connolly is currently serving a 40-year prison sentence for helping Bulger and his sidekick and fellow informant, Stephen “The Rifleman” Flemmi, orchestrate the 1982 slaying of a businessman in Florida.
Flemmi, who is serving a life sentence for 10 murders, testified during Connolly’s murder trial in Miami that Connolly was like a member of their gang, and he and Bulger made payoffs totaling about $235,000 to the agent in the 1980s and 1990s.
Bulger fled just before his 1995 racketeering indictment after being warned by Connolly that his arrest was imminent. He was captured in Santa Monica, Calif., in June 2011 after more than 16 years on the run.