Whitey Bulger should forfeit more than $25m, prosecutors say
Federal prosecutors urged a judge today to issue a $25.2 million forfeiture judgment against notorious Boston gangster James “Whitey” Bulger, which would allow them to seize all of his assets, including any future profits he may make.
In two motions filed in US District Court in Boston, prosecutors said evidence at Bulger’s eight-week racketeering trial showed that he raked in $25,162,800 from shaking down drug dealers, businessmen, and one of his murder victims, Arthur “Bucky” Barrett.
Bulger, 84, was convicted in August of 31 of 32 counts in a sweeping federal racketeering indictment as jurors found he participated in 11 of 19 murders he was charged with in the 1970s and 1980s. He is scheduled to be sentenced Nov. 13 and 14.
“The Defendant’s racketeering conspiracy spanned decades. ... The evidence at trial established, and counsel for the Defendant submitted to the jury, that the interests acquired and maintained ... totaled ‘millions upon millions upon millions of dollars,’” prosecutors wrote in their motion.
“More specifically, as detailed below, the gross proceeds generated from the Defendant’s racketeering conspiracy totaled well over $25 million,” the motion said.
In their filing, prosecutors included a chart detailing many of the crimes that witnesses testified about during Bulger’s trial and the staggering amounts they were forced to pay him. The chart estimated that Bulger made more than $20 million in the 1980s from cocaine trafficking alone.
Bulger’s lawyer, J.W. Carney Jr., conceded during opening statements and closing arguments at trial that Bulger had amassed millions from the drug trade.
Bulger, who had been one of the FBI’s Ten Most Wanted fugitives, was captured in June 2011 after more than 16 years on the run, living in a rent-controlled apartment in Santa Monica, Calif., with his longtime girlfriend, Catherine Greig. The FBI found $822,000 in cash and 30 guns in the apartment, most of it stuffed inside holes Bulger had cut in the walls and covered with plaster.
Prosecutors told US District Judge Denise J. Casper, who presided over Bulger’s trial, that they want to split the $822,000 among the families of Bulger’s victims.
Also seized at the apartment was a replica of a Stanley Cup championship ring from the 1986 Montreal Canadiens win. Bulger has claimed the ring was not subject to forfeiture because it was a gift, not purchased with any criminal profits. But in one of their motions, prosecutors indicated that they could seize the ring and sell it to satisfy the judgment, if it’s granted.
Assistant US Attorney Mary B. Murrane wrote in one motion that once a forfeiture order is entered against Bulger, the goverment may “conduct any discovery the court considers proper in identifying, locating or disposing of the property” that has been forfeited.
She said that could include allowing the government to take depositions of witnesses — a move that would allow authorities to question people under oath about whether Bulger has stashed away money or other assets that have yet to be located.
The government already seized cash and property from Bulger while he was a fugitive through four civil court cases, according to court records.
In his absence, the court ordered the forfeiture of Bulger’s remaining $2 million share of a Mass Millions lottery jackpot in 1991; the forfeiture of $99,335 from a Boston bank safe deposit box; the forfeiture of a condo in Clearwater, Fla., that sold for $106,709; and the forfeiture of a South Boston liquor store Bulger extorted from a South Boston couple in 1984.
The FBI also announced while Bulger was on the run that agents had seized safe deposit boxes belonging to the gangster in London, Dublin, Florida, and Canada. The FBI said $50,000 in assorted currency was found in the box in London. Yet the government has never provided a full accounting of all of the assets it seized from Bulger.
After his arrest, Bulger claimed he couldn’t afford to hire a lawyer because all his money had been seized. He was appointed a team of lawyers at taxpayers’ expense.
The court revealed last week that Bulger’s defense team has billed the government more than $2.6 million between June 2011 and June of this year, and that amount will climb because it doesn’t include costs from July and August while his high-profile trial was underway.Murphy can be reached at Shelley.Murphy@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @shelleymurph.