'Whitey' Bulger seeking immunity
BOSTON - Reputed mob boss James "Whitey" Bulger appeared in court for the first time since his arrest almost two years ago, seeking documents his lawyer said will show he had an immunity deal with the Justice Department.
The government has accused Bulger, 83, of participating in 19 murders and running an extortion ring that started in South Boston and over two decades expanded around the city. He was captured after more than a decade on the run.
Bulger, in an orange prison uniform, sat at the defense table Friday in Boston federal court while his lawyers asked U.S. District Judge Denise Casper to make prosecutors provide internal Justice Department records and memos from the 1980s that might show their client had been granted broad immunity from prosecution.
"The records of the Justice Department and the FBI have been scoured in search of the Holy Grail," government attorney Fred Wyshak told the judge. "It does not exist."
Casper declined to rule on the motion and set jury selection to begin June 4.
For two decades, local and state police in Massachusetts unsuccessfully sought to build cases against Bulger. In December 1994, shortly before he was indicted, Bulger vanished.
Years later, a federal court examination of the relationship between Bulger and law enforcement officials determined that he had served as an informant for the FBI Boston office, helping agents dismantle the Patriarca crime family.
The records also showed that Bulger's primary handler, FBI agent John Connolly, had protected him from prosecution at the state level, tipping him off about potential informants who might incriminate him. Connolly was convicted of racketeering and second-degree murder. He is currently in prison.