(BOSTON) — James “Whitey” Bulger was Boston’s most fearsome crime boss; a man federal prosecutors have spent the last six weeks trying to prove was a cold-hearted killer of innocents and women; a drug dealer; extortionist and violent bookie.
But when the FBI and U.S. Marshals raided Bulger’s Santa Monica hideout that he shared with his longtime companion Catherine Greig, the accused killer did not grab for any of the loaded guns he had hidden in the walls in and in hollowed out books. He didn’t try to shoot it out with federal agents using any of the machine guns or knives that he had within reach.
Instead he walked agents around his two-bedroom apartment just blocks from the world-famous Santa Monica Pier where he and Greig lived as Charlie and Carol Gasko for 16 years. He pointed to “hides” in the walls where a total of 30 weapons were recovered, along with $822,000 in cash, FBI special agent Scott Garriola told a Boston court Friday.
“This is the first time I’ve signed this name in a long time,” Bulger told Garriola as he signed a consent form for a search warrant, the agent testified.
Garriola was the last witness for the government in the trial of Bulger, who is charged with 19 murders and a litany of other crimes.
Garriola told the court that the FBI’s Most Wanted fugitive, second only to Osama bin Laden at the time, was “cooperative” with investigators.
He showed agents the dummy with a cowboy hat Bulger left in the window of his apartment so it would always appear someone was home. He cautioned agents that the guns were loaded and showed them his fake identities, taken from a homeless man he befriended, and his AARP cards, Garriola said.
And he did it for love, his defense attorney J.W. Carney told the court.
“Did he tell you he was cooperative to get consideration for Ms. Greig?” asked Carney.
“Yes,” the agent testified. Still, Carney pointed out, repeatedly, to Garriola, that “consideration” landed Greig in a federal prison for eight years.
As the government rested its case, Bulger’s attorney was cagey about whether his client would take the stand. When asked by federal judge Denise Casper about potential testimony from the defendant, Carney told her “with all due respect, I can’t answer that yet.”
The Bulger trial, which began on June 6, was expected to last into September. But at a sidebar conference today Carney and federal prosecutor Brian Kelly told the judge that it was possible the jury could get the case as early as next week.
“Regardless of whether your client takes the stand, will the jury get this case next week?” federal Judge Denise Casper asked the attorneys for the government and the defendant Friday.
“Yes,” federal prosecutor Brian Kelly answered emphatically.
“I don’t know yet,” Bulger’s attorney Carney answered, adding that a decision whether the accused mobster will take the stand will be announced next week.
The defense plans to call Pat Nee, the author of A Criminal and An Irishman. Nee’s name has been associated with several murders from the witness stand in the trial but he has never been charged. Casper said from the bench Friday that Nee’s attorney has indicated that he will likely plead the fifth.
Confessed hitman John Martorano will also be called back to the stand, Carney told the court.
Garriola was that last of 63 government witnesses, among them three convicted killers and one accused murderer. Those killers, according to testimony and court documents, have been charged with killing 46 people.
Martorano confessed to 20 murders and served 12 years in prison. Stephen “The Rifleman” Flemmi has been convicted of 10 murders and has since confessed to another 10. Kevin Weeks killed five people and served five years.
Kevin O’Neil, the owner of Bulger’s South Boston hangout Triple O’s, was charged with killing a man but was acquitted. O’Neil’s lawyer was Bulger’s brother, former Massachusetts Senate President William Bulger, he told the court Thursday.
Many of the government’s witnesses were victims of Bulger’s alleged bloodletting: the loved ones of the dead and maimed, the bookies he allegedly beat down, the drug dealers who claimed they were forced to pay tribute.
Another potential government witness Stephen “Stippo” Rakes was found dead at the side of a rural road last week. Police are calling his death suspicious.
Bulger’s case inspired the Oscar-winning movie The Departed and a TV series on Showtime called Brotherhood. There have been roughly a dozen books written about Bulger.
Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio
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