Whitey Bulger biography
James "Whitey" Bulger embarked upon a life of crime at the age of 14, and had become a preeminent figure in Boston's organized crime scene by the late '70s. From 1975 to 1990, Bulger also served as an FBI informant, tipping off the police to the Patriarca crime family while building his own crime network. After fleeing the Boston area in 1995, Bulger landed on the FBI's "Ten Most Wanted Fugitives" list. He was captured in California in 2011 and faced numerous charges, including participating in 19 murders, money laundering, extortion and drug dealing. In August 2013, after a two-month trial, the notorious crime boss was found guity of federal racketeering, extortion, conspiracy and 11 murders. That November, he was sentenced to two life sentences plus five years in prison.
Whitey Bulger was born James Joseph Bulger Jr. on September 3, 1929, in Dorchester, Massachusetts. One of six children born to Roman Catholic Irish-American parents, Whitey—a moniker he was given for his white-blond hair—grew up in a South Boston public-housing project. His father worked as a longshoreman. Bulger was a troublemaker as a child, and even lived out the childhood fantasy of running away with the circus when he was 10 years old.
Whitey Bulger was first arrested when he was 14 years old, for stealing, and his criminal record continued to escalate from there. As a youth, he was arrested for larceny, forgery, assault and battery, and armed robbery and served five years in a juvenile reformatory. Upon his release, he joined the Air Force where he served time in military jail for assault before being arrested for going AWOL. Nonetheless, he received an honorable discharge in 1952.
Life of Crime
After returning to Boston, Bulger embarked upon a life of crime. His offenses grew increasingly large in scale, culminating in a string of bank robberies from Rhode Island to Indiana. In June 1956, he was sentenced to 25 years in federal prison. He ended up serving nine years, including stints in Atlanta, Alcatraz, and Leavenworth. He returned to Boston to resume his life of crime.
Bulger became an enforcer for crime boss Donald Killeen. After Killeen was gunned down in 1972, Bulger was consolidated into the Winter Hill Gang, where he quickly rose through the ranks. A shrewd, ruthless, cunning mobster, Bulger sanctioned numerous killings, including Spike O'Toole, Paulie McGonagle, Eddie Connors, Tommy King and Buddy Leonard.
By 1979, Whitey Bulger had become a preeminent figure in Boston's organized crime scene. That year, Howie Winter was sent to prison for fixing horse races, and Bulger assumed the gang's leadership. Over the next 16 years, he came to control a significant portion of Boston's drug dealing, bookmaking, and loan sharking operations. Under his reign, more than 18 murders accumulated in all.
During this same time (from 1975 to 1990), unbeknownst to even his closest associates, Bulger was an FBI informant. Taking advantage of his brother William's stature in the State Senate and childhood friendships that linked him to members of the police force, Bulger helped bring down Boston's Italian-American Patriarca crime family while simultaneously building a more powerful and arguably more violent crime network of his own.
In the spring of 1994, the Drug Enforcement Administration, the Massachusetts State Police and the Boston Police Department launched an investigation into Bulger's gambling operations. In early 1995, Bulger and his associate, Stephen Flemmi, were indicted. Bulger, however, managed to slip through the authorities grasp. According to federal sources, Bulger's FBI handler, longtime friend Special Agent John Connelly, tipped Bulger off to the 1995 indictment, allowing the criminal to flee with his common law wife, Theresa Stanley.
Bulger returned a month later, after Stanley decided that she wanted to return to her children, but fled again soon after with a mistress, Catherine Greig. In 1999, Bulger was officially named on the FBI's "Ten Most Wanted Fugitives" list, at one point being designated the bureau's second most-wanted man, behind only Osama bin Laden. A $1 million reward was issued for providing any information leading directly to his arrest.
Capture and Trial
Bulger's reign of Boston's underworld came to an end in June 2011, when he was caught and arrested in Santa Monica, California. He had been living there with Greig at the time, and had continued to pursue a life of crime, according to authorities.
Jury selection in Bulger's trial began in early June 2013. Bulger faced a 33-count indictment, including money laundering, extortion, drug dealing, corrupting FBI and other law-enforcement officials, and participating in 19 murders. He was also charged with federal racketeering for allegedly running a criminal enterprise from 1972 to 2000.
On August 12, 2013, after a two-month trial, a jury of eight men and four women deliberated for five days and found Bulger guilty on 31 counts including federal racketeering, extortion, conspiracy and 11 murders. They found he was not guilty of 7 murders and could not reach a verdict on one murder. Bulger was sentenced to two life sentences plus five years in prison on November 13, 2013. According to the Chicago Tribune, U.S. District Judge Denise Casper told Bulger that "The scope, the callousness, the depravity of your crimes are almost unfathomable," during his sentencing hearing.