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Excerpts of opening statements from Bulger trial transcript

Reporters were outside the federal courthouse Wednesday as opening arguments began in James “Whitey” Bulger’s trial.

David L. Ryan/Globe Staff

Reporters were outside the federal courthouse Wednesday as opening arguments began in James “Whitey” Bulger’s trial.

Excerpts from opening statements on Wednesday:

ASST. US ATTORNEY
BRIAN T. KELLY

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This is my chance to give you an overview of the case. It’s a case about organized crime, public corruption, and all sorts of illegal activities, ranging from extortion to drug dealing to money laundering to possession of machine guns to murder, 19 murders.

It’s about a criminal enterprise, which is a group of criminals, who ran amok in the city of Boston for almost 30 years. So you’ll hear about crimes in the ’70s, the ’80s, and the ’90s. And at the center of all this murder and mayhem is one man, the defendant in this case, James Bulger.

* * *

And they made millions of dollars extorting people. And part of their success was due to their fearsome reputation; that is, other criminals were afraid of them, other criminals would rather pay them off than argue with them or fight with them.

* * *

Now, you will hear from several drug dealers who dealt directly with Bulger. You will hear that Bulger liked to promote the myth that he had nothing to do with drugs. But you will hear from these drug dealers that in the 1980s Bulger was deeply involved in the distribution of drugs in the South Boston area, especially cocaine. And he and his gang made millions at it.

* * *

But there was another part to their success, and the other part to their success was public corruption. Because you will hear that Bulger and his friends made a point of paying off members of law enforcement. They did that so they could get tipped off to investigations and stay one step ahead of the honest cops who were actually trying to make a case against them. So it was part of a strategy they had, and it worked.

* * *

You will also hear about FBI agents taking money and compromising investigations on behalf of Bulger, tipping him off to investigations that legitimate, honest cops were trying to make against him and his colleagues.

* * *

. . . after several of the murders that Bulger and [Stephen] Flemmi committed together, Flemmi pulled the teeth out of the victims in the mistaken belief that that would somehow prevent the bodies from being identified, not anticipating DNA testing years later. So, clearly, Flemmi is a vicious killer, but just as clearly, the evidence in this case will show that he was James Bulger’s partner, partner for many years.

* * *

Now, [Kevin] Weeks is also going to testify in this case; he received a reduced sentence from a federal judge based upon his cooperation. As he will tell you, he testified at several trials. And he also took investigators directly to the bodies of “Bucky” Barrett, John McIntyre, and Deborah Hussey.

* * *

And that, ladies and gentlemen, is what this case is about, a defendant, James Bulger, who was part of a criminal gang which extorted people, paid off cops, earned a fortune dealing drugs, laundered money, possessed all sorts of guns, and murdered people, 19 people.

J.W. CARNEY
(defense lawyer)

Now, James Bulger never ever, the evidence will show, was an informant for John Connolly. The evidence will show that he was never an informant for John Connolly. There were two reasons for this. Number one, James Bulger is of Irish descent, and the worst thing that an Irish person could consider doing was becoming an informant because of the history of The Troubles in Ireland. And that was the first and foremost reason why James Bulger was never an informant against people.

* * *

Bulger also gave money to State Police, local police, and he did that consistently. Why would Jim Bulger pay this? Because he wanted information. James Bulger was involved in criminal activities in Boston. He was involved in illegal gaming, meaning selling football cards or other betting games and collecting the proceeds, which is illegal. It’s called, in the business, bookmaking. He also lent money to people at very high rates. It’s called loan-sharking. He was involved in drug dealing.

These crimes, that’s what he did. And in order to protect this business, he wanted to pay for information and receive it from corrupt law enforcement officers.

* * *

Ladies and gentlemen, I tell you this history from the early ’70s until the mid-‘90s so that you will know the depth of corruption in federal law enforcement that existed during this period, because it puts in context what happened after 1994, and this was how James Bulger was able to do illegal gambling, make illegal loans, be involved in drug trafficking and extortion of people, and never, ever be charged, and on top of that, make millions upon millions upon millions of dollars doing so.

* * *

He settled in California, not hiding, living openly in plain sight for the next 16 years while those former FBI agents, I submit, pretended to look for him.

* * *

At this point, so many years had gone by that it’s fair to say that Stevie Flemmi thought he’d never see Bulger again. And what Stevie Flemmi decided to do, I submit, was start blaming Bulger, Jim Bulger, for crimes that Stevie Flemmi himself had carried out.

* * *

What the evidence will show is that Bulger is a person who had an unbelievably lucrative criminal enterprise in Boston. He was making millions and millions of dollars. He had people on the local police, the State Police, and especially the federal law enforcement on his payroll. He had nothing, no interest, no motivation, no reason to go out of his comfort zone and ever get involved in anything in Florida, where he knew no one.

* * *

At the end of this case, I’ll be asking you the question I asked at the beginning of my opening: Given these three individuals, given their backgrounds, given their character, if that was all you knew, would you believe them beyond a reasonable doubt? But when you add to the recipe the unbelievable incentives the prosecution has given these three men so that they will testify in the manner that the government wants and John Connolly and Jim Bulger, do you believe them beyond a reasonable doubt? This process may be a pretty good recipe to get testimony, but it’s an unreliable recipe to get the truth.

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