Jury Finds Whitey Bulger Guilty of Racketeering, Conspiracy, and Murder

After over 30 hours of deliberation, the jury found the gangster guilty of many crimes, but said several murders were left unproven.

James "Whitey" Bulger

Image credit: Associated Press

After nearly 33 hours of deliberation over five days, the jury found James “Whitey” Bulger guilty of racketeering, conspiracy, money laundering, and illegal weapons possession, which will keep the 83 year old gangster in jail for the remainder of his life. In a disappointment for many of the victims’ families, the jury found that the government proved only 11 of the 19 murder acts included in his racketeering charge.* On the murder of Debra Davis, a crime Bulger particularly denied, the jury couldn’t come to a ruling. On several others, they found the government hadn’t proven its case. Still, they did find him guilty of some of the most gruesome killings described during his trial, including that of the young Deborah Hussey.

The 19 murders with which he was accused were part of a single, broad federal racketeering charge, and though the judge urged the jury to do its best to reach a unanimous decision on all 33 racketeering acts, she also noted that they need only find he committed two of them in order to return a guilty verdict on that charge. That meant that the jury needn’t agree that the government proved every act in order come to a decision. Thus was the family of Davis, for instance, denied the satisfaction of seeing him found guilty of the young woman’s murder even as he was found guilty of the charge within which her murder was alleged.

Bulger listened to the verdict wearing an informal gray long-sleeve T-shirt and jeans in a courtroom packed with victims’ families as well one of Bulger’s own relatives, his niece. While awaiting the jury at times, he bent over and appeared to be scrawling notes, a mysterious posture he’s taken for much of the trial.

Prosecutors issued a sweeping indictment against the long-sought gangster after capturing him and his girlfriend in a Santa Monica apartment in 2011, but in letters and through his defense lawyers, Bulger focused on only a few of the alleged crimes— in particular, the two murders of female innocents. Bulger’s former associates Kevin Weeks and Stephen Flemmi testified that he strangled both Deborah Hussey and Debra Davis. His lawyers all but conceded to money laundering and drug charges and instead focused on suggesting that Bulger’s henchmen were lying about the murders in exchange for lighter sentences. They also focused on proving he wasn’t an FBI informant, though it wasn’t a crime for which he was charged, and therefore, wasn’t addressed by the jury today.

The judge thanked the jury for taking its duty seriously before suggesting a sentencing beginning November 13. Outside the courtroom, his lawyers suggested he would appeal the verdict.

*He was found guilty in the murders of Paul McGonagle, Edward Connors, Thomas King, Richard Castucci, Roger Wheeler, Brian Halloran, Michael Donahue, John Callahan, Arthur Barrett, John McInyre, and Deborah Hussey. He wasn’t found guilty of murdering Michael Milano, Al Plummer, William O’Brien, James O’Toole, Al Notarangeli, James Sousa and Buddy Leonard.