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Judge may dock Bulger’s prison account

The federal judge who presided over the trial of Boston gangster James J. “Whitey” Bulger said Friday that she is inclined to deduct money from the account he can use to buy personal items in prison.

But she acknowledged the account balance is not likely to match the more than $50 million Bulger has been ordered to forfeit and pay in restitution.

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“The court is inclined to impose a payment plan that requires Mr. Bulger to pay a percentage of any monies in his prison account on an ongoing basis,” US District Judge Denise J. Casper said in an order Friday.

Bulger, 84, is now Inmate No. 02182-748 at a high-security federal prison in Tucson, according to the US Bureau of Prisons website.

Bureau of Prisons spokesman Chris Burke said inmates are entitled to a prison account to pay for items not issued by the prison, such as toothbrushes, candy bars, some clothing, and telephone and e-mail charges. The inmate and family and friends can deposit money from outside sources into the account. Money earned by the inmate from a prison job also goes into the account.

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Burke said all inmates are expected to work, though accommodations are made for physical and mental limitations.

Casper said that if either prosecutors or defense attorneys want to “provide any input as to the nature of the payment plan,” they should file legal briefs by next Friday.

Attached to Casper’s entry was a letter to her from the Bureau of Prisons stating the agency lacks the authority to collect on a $19.5 million restitution order against Bulger, a percentage of his total debt, in part because the order did not include a payment schedule.

Bulger was sentenced in November to two life prison terms plus five years after a jury found he participated in 11 murders and convicted him of racketeering, extortion, money laundering, and weapons charges. He was arrested in June 2011 in Santa Monica, Calif., after eluding a worldwide manhunt for more than 16 years, along with his girlfriend, Catherine Greig, who is now serving an eight-year prison term for her role in aiding him.

Authorities have recovered just a fraction of the $50.6 million Bulger owes. The largest chunk was $822,000 seized from the Santa Monica apartment.

Travis Andersen of the Globe staff contributed to this report.
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