Federal prosecutors pledged Friday to give all of James “Whitey” Bulger’s money to his victims if a judge grants their request for a $25.2 million forfeiture judgment that will allow the government to seize all of the notorious gangster’s assets.
“The government will seek to return assets currently owned by the Defendant, and assets of the Defendant that may be recovered in the future, to the innocent victims in this case,” prosecutors wrote in a motion filed in US District Court. The motion came in response to concerns by some of the victims’ families that the government would keep Bulger’s money.
“Once the Court issues its orders as to forfeiture and restitution, the United States will work with the victims and the Court to resolve issues in determining the best practice in effectuating such a distribution,” Assistant US Attorney Mary B. Murrane wrote.
Lawyers representing the estate of Debra Davis filed a motion last week urging US District Judge Denise J. Casper to reject prosecutors’ request for the forfeiture order, saying it would allow the government to secretly seize Bulger’s assets and keep them.
The Davises’ lawyers urged the judge to order restitution to the victims’ families instead, and to appoint a special investigator to track and seize assets and distribute them among the families.
But Murrane said prosecutors want restitution for the victims, in addition to the forfeiture order, and that both are mandatory under the law. She also said the court will continue to have oversight over any assets of Bulger’s that the government may locate, and would have to approve their forfeiture.
If the judge grants the government’s request for a $25.2 million forfeiture order, it would force Bulger, 84, to turn over all of his assets to satisfy the judgment, including the $822,000 seized from his California apartment when he was arrested. It would also include any profits he might attempt to make by selling his life story.
Bulger was captured in Santa Monica, Calif., in June 2011 after more than 16 years on the run.
In August, a federal jury in Boston found Bulger participated in 11 of 19 murders he was accused of while running a sprawling criminal enterprise from the 1970s through the 1990s that engaged in drug dealing, racketeering, extortion, and money laundering. He is slated to be sentenced in November. During the eight-week trial, Bulger’s lawyers conceded that he raked in millions upon millions in the drug trade.
Jurors found prosecutors failed to prove Bulger participated in seven of the 19 murders he was accused of, and were unable to reach a verdict on whether he strangled Davis in 1981.
Lawyers representing Davis’s estate said in their filing last week that the government failed to give any money to victims’ families after seizing approximately $12.5 million from Flemmi, who is serving a life sentence for his participation in the slaying of Davis and nine other people.
However, in Friday’s response motion, prosecutors said they received a $10 million forfeiture judgment against Flemmi, but seized considerably less, $2.3 million.
Some of Bulger’s property and cash were already forfeited to the government in civil cases while he was on the run. The government netted $2 million from Bulger’s share of a 1991 lottery ticket, $99,335 from a BayBank safe deposit box, and $106,709 from the sale of Bulger’s condominium in Clearwater, Fla.Shelley Murphy can be reached at Shelley.Murphy@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @shelleymurph.