BOSTON (Reuters) - Former mob boss James "Whitey" Bulger is expected back in court in Boston on Thursday, where a judge could assign two prominent lawyers to take on the case of the aging gangster, the Justice Department said.
Bulger, 81, requested a public defender at his initial Boston court appearance on Friday, saying he could not afford an attorney. He has been provisionally represented by attorney Peter Krupp.
Published reports suggest Howard Cooper and Max Stern could be named to the Bulger case if a judge allows court-appointed counsel over prosecutors' objections.
The pair were in court for a another Bulger hearing on Tuesday. Neither returned calls seeking comment.
Stern was named one of Boston's best criminal defense lawyers in 2010 by "Law and Politics" magazine, while "Massachusetts Lawyers Weekly" named Cooper to its list of the state's most influential attorneys in 2009.
Bulger, who had been on the FBI's Most Wanted List, and his longtime companion Catherine Greig, 60, were arrested at their rent-controlled apartment in Santa Monica, California, on June 22 after being on the run together since 1995. The pair had some $820,000 on hand, mostly in bundles of $100 bills.
On Tuesday, prosecutors moved to drop a 1994 indictment against Bulger and focus on the 19 murder charges in a later case. A conviction on just one count could send Bulger to prison for life.
(Reporting by Lauren Keiper; Editing by Ros Krasny and Jerry Norton)