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 the gangster’s current assets and profits he might make in the future.
“The government will seek to return assets currently owned by the Defendant (Bulger), and assets of the Defendant that may be recovered in the future, to the innocent victims in this case,” Assistant US Attorney Mary B. Murrane wrote in a motion filed in US District Court in response to concerns by some of the victims’ families that the government would keep all of 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,” 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 all. The Davises’ lawyers urged the judge to order restitution to the victims instead, and to appoint a special investigator to track and seize assets and distribute them among the families of Bulger’s victims.
But, the government said in today’s filing that it is mandatory that the court order both restitution and forfeiture. Prosecutors said they could not secretly seize additional assets from Bulger because they would require court approval and oversight.
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 judgement, including the $822,000 in cash seized from his California apartment when he was captured two years ago and 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. He was convicted in August by a federal jury in Boston of running a sprawling criminal enterprise from the 1970s through the 1990s, participating in 11 of 19 murders he was accused of, drug trafficking, money laundering, extortion, and racketeering. He is slated to be sentenced in November.
Murphy can be reached at Shelley.Murphy@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @shelleymurph.