No Bulger ‘license to kill’ claim, lawyers say

Federal charges barred if he kept deal, they assert

James “Whitey” Bulger has asserted he struck a deal with US prosecutor Jeremiah O’Sullivan (right), who has died.
Barry Chin/Gloe Staff/File
James “Whitey” Bulger has asserted he struck a deal with US prosecutor Jeremiah O’Sullivan (right), who has died.

Lawyers for James “Whitey” Bulger said Monday that he is not claiming a blanket “license to kill” by asserting that a former US Justice Department ­official granted him immunity from prosecution for crimes includ­ing murder.

Instead, Bulger’s lawyers said in court filings, he asserts that an agreement he had with the late Jeremiah O’Sullivan, a former federal prosecutor in Boston, only barred federal author­ities in Massachusetts from charging him criminally as long as he kept his end of the bargain.

The 83-year-old gangster is charged in a sweeping federal indictment with 19 murders. His trial in federal court in ­Boston is scheduled to begin in June.


On Monday, his lawyers wrote that his asserted immunity agreement was a federal one and does not prevent state prosecutors, as in Middlesex or Suffolk counties, from charging him with murder.

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“The defendant did not possess a license to kill, but rather an agreement with the [Depart­ment] of Justice,” ­defense lawyers wrote.

Bulger’s lawyers have not said what he agreed to do in ­exchange for federal immunity. He denies being an informant, despite evidence from prior court proceedings that he provided information to the FBI for years.

Federal prosecutors contend that there is no evidence that O’Sullivan offered Bulger immu­nity and that O’Sullivan lacked authority to enter into such an agreement.

In the court filings Monday, defense lawyers asked US District Court Judge Denise J. Casper, to allow Bulger to present his immunity defense at ­trial, a request that her predecessor denied last month.


Separately, prosecutors asked Casper Monday to reject Bulger’s bid to unmask the identity of a confidential informant who implicated him in a lottery ticket scheme two ­decades ago.

Travis Andersen can be reached at tandersen@
. Follow him on ­Twitter @TAGlobe.