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Judge Sentences 'Whitey' Bulger To Two Life Terms In Prison

A 1953 mug shot of James "Whitey" Bulger.
Boston Police
A 1953 mug shot of James "Whitey" Bulger.

James "Whitey" Bulger has been sentenced to two terms of life in prison, to run consecutively, plus five years for his role in the murder of 11 people. Bulger, 84, is also being punished for racketeering and other crimes. Before announcing the sentence, U.S. District Judge Denise Casper read aloud the names of Bulger's victims.

Relatives of the victims testified at a hearing in Boston yesterday. As Mark reported, a woman took the chance to tell the former mob boss, "We got you, you rat."

The sentence also includes a call for Bulger to pay more than $19 million in restitution.

Bulger did not address the court Wednesday. As his sentence was read, he stoically stood between his attorneys.

Addressing Bulger as she prepared to announce his punishment Thursday, Casper reprimanded the notorious gangster for his actions — and for becoming a fugitive.

From Boston, WBUR reports that there was a "strong moment" this morning, as Casper told Bulger, "You, sir, do not represent this city."

"The scope, the callousness, the depravity of your crimes are almost unfathomable," Casper said to Bulger. "Your crimes are made all the more heinous because they are all about money."

Bulger was captured in California in 2011, after living as a fugitive for more than 15 years — spending 10 of them on the FBI's "Most Wanted" list. He was charged with participating in 19 murders. In August, a jury found him guilty in 11 of those deaths.

Defense attorneys for Bulger were not allowed to present his claims that he should not be tried for his crimes because of an immunity deal reached with the U.S. Justice Department.

"Bulger will raise numerous issues on appeal," David Frank of Massachusetts Lawyers Weekly tweeted after the sentence was announced. He said a central issue for Bulger's attorneys will be the "judge's refusal to let him raise an immunity defense."

As The Two-Way reported in August, "Bulger could be still tried in Oklahoma and Florida, which have the death penalty, on other murder charges."

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Bill Chappell is a writer and editor on the News Desk in the heart of NPR's newsroom in Washington, D.C.