BOSTON - A federal jury Monday convicted James "Whitey" Bulger of racketeering, extortion and conspiracy charges, ruling that the former Boston crime boss was responsible for 11 murders dating back to the 1970s.
Jurors convicted Bulger on charges related to 11 of the 19 murders he was charged with under a wide-ranging federal indictment that also implicated him on extortion, money laundering, illegal possession of firearms and other charges dating back to his reign as leader of South Boston's Winter Hill Gang.
The verdict - which came after 32 hours of deliberations over five days - brings the case one step closer to closure after a seven-week trial that featured more than 70 witnesses and startling testimony.
The 83-year-old defendant was convicted on 31 counts of a 32-count indictment. The murders were wrapped into one of the racketeering charges against Bulger.
Prosecutors had portrayed him as a cold-blooded, hands-on boss who killed anyone he saw as a threat, along with innocent people who happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. Then, according to testimony, he would go off and nap while his underlings handled the cleanup.
Bulger was accused of strangling two women with his bare hands, shooting two men in the head after chaining them to chairs and interrogating them for hours, and opening fire on two others as they left a South Boston restaurant.
Bulger, wearing a long-sleeved uncollared shirt and white sneakers, looked relaxed as he chatted with his attorneys and awaited the verdict. He will most likely spend the rest of his life in prison. Sentencing has been set for Nov. 13.
Until his arrest, Bulger, once on of the nation's most wanted criminals, had evaded authorities since December 1994, when he vanished just before he was to be indicted for racketeering.
But during his trial, testimony revealed that Bulger had been an FBI informant from 1975 to 1990, providing tips on rival gangs as well as his own gang. It was also revealed that Bulger and his gang paid off several FBI agents as well as state and local police officers, dispensing Christmas envelopes of cash and cases of fine wine to get information on search warrants, wiretaps and investigations and stay one step ahead of the law.
Bulger's attorneys tried to use that information as part of his defense as they detailed corruption inside the FBI and accusing prosecutors of offering absurdly generous deals to three former Bulger loyalists to testify against him.
Patricia Donahue wept as the verdict was read, saying it was a relief to see Bulger convicted in the murder of her husband, Michael Donahue, who authorities say was an innocent victim killed in a hail of gunfire while giving a ride to an FBI informant marked for death by Bulger.
"He's guilty of murdering my husband. There's nobody that said that," she said. "It brings out a lot of emotion, and when it finally happens, it's kind of hard."
Thomas Donahue, who was 8 when his father was killed, said: "Thirty-one years of deceit, of cover-up. ... Finally we have somebody guilty of it. Thirty-one years - that's a long time."
Separately, Bulger agreed to forfeit the weapons and $822,000 in cash found in his California apartment following his 2011 arrest, but he will be allowed keep his prized Stanley Cup ring.
In a document filed last week, Bulger said the ring commemorating the National Hockey League championship series was a gift from an unnamed "third party."
The document said both sides agreed to not include the ring among assets Bulger must forfeit.
(Copyright © 2013 USA TODAY)