Bulger Day Three: The Bookies

Here's what you missed.

So Whitey Bulger’s on trial and you’re interested in hearing about it, but you’ve got this darn day job and you can’t manage to keep up with all the live tweets. We feel you. Here’s what you missed: 

The witnesses: Today we heard testimony from two bookies, James Katz & Dick O’Brien, who agreed to cooperate with the government as witnesses in exchange for various leniencies. Katz, 72, is in the witness protection program, and testified against Bulger to a Grand Jury only after being held in contempt of court, so this was not the most eager witness:

Both bookies described how they paid “rent” money to Bulger and his enforcer Stephen “The Rifleman” Flemmi, and both had colorful ways of describing what might have happened if they hadn’t paid up. According to O’Brien, when one guy said he’d go his own way, Bulger told him, “We have a business beyond bookmaking.” Specifically, “Killing assholes like you.” Well, then.

Bulger’s lawyers focused on their agreements to cooperate with the government, as part of the broader strategy to cast doubt on the cast of criminals who will appear as witnesses for the prosecution.

The fashion: As it is everyday, the fashion was a focus for court reporters. Whitey looked like the aging Honey Badger that he always does.

As was the fashion of the past:

Most uncomfortable courtroom moment: That’d go to defense lawyer J.W. Carney who asked Katz, “”was there anyone in prison who would gently & lovingly touch your arm” like his wife. He said no, and some small part of each of our souls perished.