Notorious gangster James “Whitey’’ Bulger was taken to Boston Medical Center early this morning after complaining of chest pains, officials said.
Plymouth Fire Department battalion chief Kevin Murphy said in a phone interview tonight that firefighters responded to the Plymouth County Correctional Facility at 1:48 a.m. and took Bulger to the hospital.
Murphy said he did not know why Bulger was hospitalized and declined further comment.
But officials who were briefed on the situation said Bulger had been complaining of chest pains.
The Plymouth County Sheriff’s Department, US Marshals Service, and the US Attorney’s office in Boston refused to comment on Bulger’s condition. A hospital spokeswoman said she had no information on Bulger’s condition Sunday night and Bulger’s attorney, J. W. Carney Jr., could not be reached for comment.
Bulger, 83, was examined at a Boston hospital in December and returned to the jail later in the day, but officials at the time would not say why.
While he has always been a physical fitness buff, Bulger has for decades suffered from a common ailment that prompts him to take Atenolol, a beta blocker used to treat high blood pressure and improve blood flow to the heart.
Last week, several relatives of Bulger’s alleged victims raised concerns about the gangster’s health after his lawyer argued in court that he can’t possibly be ready for trial on the scheduled date, March 4, and asked for a postponement to November 2013. The judge has taken the request under advisement and is expected to rule this week.
After that hearing on Thursday, Carney described Bulger as “mentally very sharp’’ and said he was looking forward to testifying at his trial.
Carney has argued that the evidence in the case, which spans several decades, is voluminous and Bulger’s right to a fair trial will be violated if he isn’t given adequate time to prepare his defense. Federal prosecutors have accused Bulger of trying to intentionally stall the trial and oppose any delay.
Bulger, a longtime FBI informant, is claiming that a former federal prosecutor promised him immunity from prosecution. He fled Boston shortly before his January 1995 federal racketeering indictment after his former FBI handler, John J. Connolly Jr. , warned him his arrest was imminent.
After more than 16 years on the run, Bulger, one of the FBI’s 10 Most Wanted, was captured June 22, 2011, in Santa Monica, Calif., along with his girlfriend, Catherine Greig. The couple had lived there for 15 years.