Families of James “Whitey” Bulger murder victims calculate losses to be in millions
The families of some of James “Whitey” Bulger’s murder victims have submitted claims for restitution from the convicted gangster, estimating the loss of their loved ones to be valued in the hundreds of thousands of dollars, and in some cases millions.
The values were calculated in large part on funeral expenses and how much money the victim would have made and been able to contribute to their family, had they not been killed.
The family of John Callahan, a Boston businessman who was killed by Bulger’s cohort John Martorano in Florida, estimated his loss at $3.3 million, while the family of Edward Connors, a Dorchester bar owner who Bulger killed, calculated their loss at $1.7 million
In addition, the family of Roger Wheeler, a prominent businessman from Oklahoma, said his death cost them $810 million, while the family of Albert Plummer, a member of a rival faction who was slain, submitted a figure of $380,500.
And family members of Michael Donahue, an innocent victim who was killed in South Boston in 1982, estimated his loss at $2.2 million.
Some of Bulger’s extortion victims also requested restitution for the hundreds of thousands of dollars the gangster took from them at gunpoint.
The estimates were listed by federal prosecutors in a court filing late Friday, on the eve of Bulger’s sentencing hearing, which is scheduled to begin in multiple phases on Wednesday.
Prosecutors have asked that Bulger, now 84, be sentenced to life in prison following his conviction in August for running a criminal enterprise that sold drugs, extorted and laundered money, and murdered people to carry out its mission. Bulger was found responsible for 11 of the 19 murders he was accused of participating in.
Prosecutors have told the family members of Bulger’s slaying victims and three extortion recipients that they will seek to distribute any assets they can recover from him under a forfeiture order.
The prosecutors are seeking a $25.2 million forfeiture judgment against Bulger that would allow the government to seize his assets – including the $822,000 recovered from his California apartment after his arrest – and any profits he might make from selling his life story.
Prosecutors told family members in October that they would then divide the assets 20 ways – 19 shares for each of the murder victims, and the three extortion victims would divide the 20th share. Prosecutors said most of the family members agree with the proposed split.
The prosecutors said that the claims for restitution listed Friday were required but would be “moot” because an “overwhelming majority” of the family members have agreed to the proposed settlement through a forfeiture order.
But the prosecutors’ proposal has been opposed by some family members, who disagree with their plan to split up the money.
Other family members who have won civil judgments against Bulger say they are entitled to the money first. And at least one other family member argued that the government should include the millions of dollars it had already seized a decade ago from Bulger’s cohort, Stephen “The Rifleman” Flemmi, who cooperated with authorities and escaped the death sentence.
Some family members asked US District Court Judge Denise J. Casper to appoint a special investigator to determine how to divide the money.
Casper is expected to hear arguments on Wednesday.Milton J. Valencia can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @miltonvalencia.