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US Supreme Court declines to hear ‘Whitey’ Bulger appeal

James “Whitey” Bulger in 2011. U.S. Marshals Service/File

The US Supreme Court has declined to hear the appeal of the notorious Boston gangster James “Whitey” Bulger, who was convicted of participating in 11 murders during his reign of terror in Boston’s underworld from the 1970s to the 1990s.

Without commenting, the court on Monday included Bulger’s case on a long list of those that were denied certiorari, meaning they will not be heard.

The news came as a relief to Patricia Donahue, whose husband, Michael, was killed by Bulger in 1982. “I am ecstatic,” Donahue said. “I can’t even tell you how great it feels just to know that it’s over.”


A federal jury convicted Bulger in August 2013 of participating in the murders, along with drug trafficking and other crimes. Bulger had previously appealed to the First US Circuit Court of Appeals, which ruled in March that his trial was fair.

Now 87, Bulger is incarcerated at the maximum security prison at Sumterville, Fla.

US Attorney Carmen M. Ortiz, whose office secured Bulger’s conviction, also welcomed the high court’s decision.

“I am pleased by the Supreme Court’s decision to deny Mr. Bulger’s petition, and am relieved that we can finally put this matter to rest,” Ortiz said in a statement. “I hope that the victims’ families and survivors of his brutal crimes feel the same way, given the long road to justice. Mr. Bulger’s lifetime of crime and deceit is now a matter for the history books.”

Bulger’s lawyer could not be reached for comment.

Bulger, a longtime FBI informant, fled Boston shortly before his January 1995 racketeering indictment. He eluded a worldwide manhunt, becoming one of the FBI’s 10 Most Wanted. He wasn’t caught until June 2011, when he and his girlfriend were found living quietly in Santa Monica, Calif.

Bulger had argued before the First Circuit that his trial was a “sham,” claiming the judge violated his rights by refusing to let him tell jurors a now-deceased prosecutor had promised him immunity decades ago for all his crimes.


The court ruled Bulger failed to support his “rank assertions.”

John R. Ellement of the Globe staff contributed to this report. Martin Finucane can be reached at martin.finucane@globe.com. Travis Andersen can be reached at Travis.Andersen@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @TAGlobe.