Judge sets November trial for "Whitey" Bulger

Reuters News
Posted: Feb 13, 2012 4:44 PM
Judge sets November trial for "Whitey" Bulger

By Lauren Keiper

BOSTON (Reuters) - A federal judge set a November 5 trial date for accused former Boston mobster James "Whitey" Bulger on charges that include 19 murders over objections from his attorney who wanted at least a year to prepare his defense.

Attorneys for Bulger said in court on Monday they would need more time to process the mountains of evidence in the case, including roughly 580,000 pages of documents and 921 tapes of wiretaps.

Upon setting the trial date, Magistrate Judge Marianne Bowler said she would consider requests from the defense to hire additional lawyers to speed up work on the case.

Defense attorney J.W. Carney Jr. objected to the trial date but ultimately said he would do everything he could to work within the guidelines set by the court.

Carney told reporters after the hearing he was granted years to prepare in other recent cases that had significantly less "discovery," the process of exchanging pre-trial evidence between prosecutors and defense.

"The allotment of a reasonable amount of time to review a tsunami's worth of discovery does not depend on the age of the defendant, nor his notoriety," Carney said in court filing earlier in the day requesting more time.

Prosecutors allege Bulger for years led the Winter Hill Gang, a mostly Irish-American Boston organized crime operation, and he was the inspiration for the Jack Nicholson character in the 2006 Martin Scorsese film "The Departed." He was arrested in June in California along with longtime girlfriend Catherine Greig, 60.

A one-time FBI informant who was not in court for the hearing, Bulger pleaded not guilty in July to all charges including 19 murders in the 1970s and 1980s, many of them brutal slayings.

Prosecutors had previously asked the court to expedite the murder and racketeering case against the defendant. Prosecutors said again in court they believed Bulger, 82, would try to run out the clock to avoid trial.

The magistrate judge ordered lawyers in the case to meet every 30 days leading up to the trial for a status conference on their progress.

Authorities have said the pair had a stash of about 30 firearms and $822,000 in cash hidden in holes in the wall of their apartment when they were arrested.

Bulger fled Boston in late 1994 after receiving a tip from a corrupt FBI agent that federal charges against him were pending. Greig joined him a short time later and has been charged with harboring Bulger as a fugitive.

Greig has pleaded not guilty to that charge. She remains behind bars pending a spring trial after a judge deemed her a serious flight risk and denied her request for bail.

(Editing by Daniel Trotta)