As jurors deliberate for the fourth day in the racketeering trial of James “Whitey” Bulger, a fight has broken out over what to do with the $822,000 in cash found hidden inside Bulger’s California apartment in 2011.
A lawyer for Julie Dammers urged US District Court Judge Denise J. Casper today not to take action on the government’s request that Bulger forfeit the cash as proceeds from his criminal activities, which is one of the issues the jury must decide.
Also before the jury is the allegation that Bulger extorted a South Boston liquor store in 1984 from Dammers and her ex-husband, Stephen “Stippo’’ Rakes. (Rakes was murdered last month in Middlesex County, allegedly by a business partner in a crime unrelated to the Bulger trial.)
Dammers won a $29 million judgment against Bulger while he was on the run. On June 24, 2011, just days after Bulger’s capture, US District Judge William G. Young issued a lien on Bulger’s assets, including the cash.
Dammers’s lawyer, Anthony Cardinale, is arguing that his client, Dammers, has the first claim to the money.
Dammers is not the only one with a claim on Bulger’s assets.
The family of Debra Davis, who was allegedly strangled by Bulger in 1981, won a $15 million state court judgment against each of the gangsters in 2009.
And through his lawyers, Bulger has said he wants the money to go to the families of Michael Donahue and Brian Halloran, both of whom were shot to death, allegedly by Bulger in 1982. Bulger’s target was Halloran, who was cooperating with the FBI against him; Donahue was an innocent victim who just happened to be giving Halloran a ride home.
The wrangling over the money was done without the jury in the courtroom and Casper said she will wait until the verdicts are in before addressing what happens to the cash.
This morning, the panel of four women and eight men briefly came into the courtroom. Casper then sent them out to resume their closed-door deliberations. She will let them deliberate until around 4:15 p.m. unless they reach a verdict before then.
Since getting the case Tuesday, the panel has spent more than 20 hours wrestling with the sweeping indictment that alleges Bulger ran a criminal enterprise for decades, murdered people, and extorted bookmakers and drug dealers.
Bulger faces 32 counts, including a racketeering charge. The racketeering charge alleges that Bulger committed 33 criminal acts, including 19 murders, as well as extortion and conspiracy to sell marijuana and cocaine.
Bulger eluded a worldwide manhunt for 16 years before his 2011 arrest. Federal prosecutors say he was able to carry out crimes for so long because he was a longtime FBI informant who was protected by corrupt agents.
With the jury out of the room, Assistant US Attorney Brian Kelly complained to Casper that Carney was trying to influence the jury through impermissible comments to the large media contingent covering the trial.
Carney, Kelly said, can discuss his “strange personal habits” — he showed reporters his purple painted toenails on Thursday — but should not talk about the jury. Carney was quoted by the Globe praising the jury. He said “All Americans can be proud of this jury.’’
After 35 days of testimony by 72 witnesses and three days of jury deliberations, family members, lawyers in the case, and reporters were left to wait patiently for a verdict in one of the highest-profile trials the city of Boston has ever seen.
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