Notorious Boston Mobster Makes Last Stand At The Supreme Court

Kevin Daley | Supreme Court Reporter

Infamous Boston mobster James “Whitey” Bulger has appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court to vacate his two life sentences in a last-ditch attempt to get out of jail.

Bulger, 86, was convicted of 31 counts of racketeering, extortion, and complicity in nearly a dozen murders in the 1970s and 1980s during his leadership of the Winter Hill Gang, the Boston-based organized crime syndicate which also ran guns for the Irish Republican Army.

Hank Brennan, Bulger’s attorney, contends that the former mobster’s right to a fair trial was violated. The presiding judge in the case did not allow Bulger to testify about his claim a deceased federal prosecutor promised him immunity. Bulger informed on rival Italian-American crime families throughout the mid 1970s. The 1st U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals previously rejected Bulger’s bid for a new trial.

“This error affected the fundamental fairness of Mr. Bulger’s trial and his convictions should be automatically reversed as a result,” Brennan wrote. (RELATED: Prison Guard Catches Whitey With A Bulger)

“There’s very little hope,” Brennan told WBUR of the appeal. “It’s like catching lightning in a bottle. But the idea that someone has the right to defend himself in this country no matter who they are, even James Bulger, is of such importance that I don’t think I could pass on the idea.”

The mobster fled Boston in 1994 after he learned he was the subject of a Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) investigation. He successfully evaded federal authorities for the next 19 years until his arrest in 2013 in Santa Monica, California. He spent 12 years on the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s top ten most wanted fugitives list.

Bulger was considered so adept at eluding authorities that part of the Boston Harbor was closed during his arraignment at the federal courthouse in Boston, which sits on the waterfront.

A film about Bulger’s life called Black Mass debuted in 2015, starring Johnny Depp.

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