Notorious Boston gangster and murderer James “Whitey” Bulger faces only two possible sentences: life plus 30 years or life plus 35 years, a federal prosecutor said today at a hearing in federal court in Boston to set the ground rules for Bulger’s November sentencing hearing.
Bulger did not attend today’s hearing in US District Court in Boston. The sentencing hearing is slated to begin Nov. 13.
Bulger was charged in a sweeping racketeering case with participating in 19 murders during his deadly career in Boston’s underworld, along with extortion, money laundering, and weapons offenses. A jury last month found him responsible for 11 murders and convicted him of 31 of 32 counts.
Prosecutor Brian Kelly said the families of all 19 victims want to submit victim impact statements and 14 relatives want to speak at sentencing. Defense attorney J. W. Carney Jr. said he would file a written response to that request.
US District Court Judge Denise J. Casper said speakers would be limited to speaking five to 10 minutes. She told prosecutors that victims should refrain from angry outbursts and remember they are in court.
Prosecutors said they would speak for an hour; the defense said it would need a half-hour. Casper said she would hear the arguments and testimony from the victims’ families and hand down her sentence the next day.
After the hearing, Carney said Bulger “is at peace within himself. He has now concluded going to trial. He’s frustrated that he wasn’t able to present the full defense that he wanted to and he recognizes that there will be a very emotional sentencing hearing ahead and he’s preparing himself for it.”
He said Bulger, who did not take the stand during his eight-week trial, has yet to decide whether he will speak at his sentencing hearing.
Bulger, who turned 84 last week, was captured two years ago in seaside Santa Monica, Calif., after more than 16 years on the run from a worldwide manhunt. He was accused of running a sprawling criminal enterprise from 1972 to 2000, first as part of the Somerville-based Winter Hill gang and later setting up headquarters in his native South Boston.
His legend grew after revelations that he had been protected as a prized informant for the FBI while on his criminal rampage. His story has served as fodder for numerous books, movies, and TV shows.
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