In her first major ruling since taking control of the James “Whitey” Bulger trial, US District Court Judge Denise J. Casper rejected Monday his demand for the name of a confidential FBI informant who helped the government seize the mobster’s share of a winning 1991 Massachusetts lottery ticket.
Last Friday, Bulger made a surprise visit to court where he saw Casper for the first time since she was named in March to replace Judge Richard Stearns, who was ordered off the case because, as a former Department of Justice official, there was an appearance of a conflict of interest.
In Monday’s ruling, Casper addressed the request for the name of the informant who worked with FBI Special Agent John Gamel made by Bulger’s lawyers, who said they need it to undermine the testimony of Kevin Weeks, Bulger’s former close associate who is slated to testify for the prosecution at Bulger’s upcoming racketeering trial.
“Contrary to Bulger’s argument, there is still reason to preserve the CI’s [confidential informant’s] anonymity,’’ Casper wrote.
Weeks, who has admitted committing crimes with the notorious gangster, was one of four men who claimed they had won $14.3 million in a 1991 Mass Millions lottery game.
Michael Linskey told the Massachusetts State Lottery Commission in the early 1990s that he shared the proceeds with his brother Patrick, Weeks, and Bulger, according to court records.
Linskey claimed 50 percent of the cash, and Bulger and the others would get 16 percent, equal to about $119,000 a year in pretax payments over 20 years, according to court records.
Weeks has insisted under oath and in his autobiography that the lottery win was legitimate. According to Bulger’s attorneys, Weeks was allowed to continue to receive his share, but Bulger’s portion was seized.
Two confidential informants told Gamel in the 1990s that it was a money-laundering scheme, according to court records. One of the informants who spoke with Gamel has since been publicly identified, but Casper refused today to unmask the second person.
Although Bulger is facing charges that span nearly 30 years — including 19 slayings, extortion, and money laundering — none of the 48 allegations in the 111-page indictment touch on the split of the lottery ticket, the judge noted in her six-page decision.
And because there is no connection between the case and the lottery ticket, Bulger loses.
“Bulger alleges that the CI has information about the acquisition of Bulger’s share in the winning Mass Millions lottery ticket, a matter that is not even alleged in the lengthy and broad indictment charged against him here,’’ Casper wrote. “There is no suggestion that the CI played any role in the criminal conduct [by Bulger] charged here, much less a critical role in such conduct.’’
Casper cited three other grounds for her decision, including the need by law enforcement to protect the names of people who agree to cooperate with them in criminal investigations.
“This assurance of anonymity is essential,’’ Casper wrote.
“The key consideration is not that there is no pending investigation or other law enforcement interest remaining in the underlying matter, but that the qualified privilege presumes confidentiality unless the burden to disclose such information is met.’’