When I first heard about the capture of fugitive Whitey Bulger two years ago here in Los Angeles, images of “The Fugitive” Richard Kimball flashed through my mind, a man on the run, persistently hunted by the law, who managing to stay one jump ahead of his pursuers. Of course the circumstances of both fugitives is quite different, Kimball was an innocent man, wrongly convicted, searching for the one armed man who killed his wife. Bulger is a purported cold blooded killer responsible for the death of at least nineteen people. He’s the real thing. He was also charged with money laundering, extortion and arms trafficking.
Bulger had been on the run for sixteen years, well not really on the run, more like hiding out, living a quiet, unassuming life in Santa Monica with his girlfriend in a small two bedroom apartment near the beach. Just a regular Joe who always paid his rent on time and in cash. The only remnants of his former gangland life were the stash of 30 assorted weapons, fake ID’s and the $800,000 in cash found in his apartment. Yeah turns out the FBI’s most wanted notorious fugitive from justice, was just another little old man living in retirement.
I can imagine this 81 year old reputed mobster boss quietly sitting back in his easy up recliner watching the History or Western Channel all day, everyday. It drums up images of the retired Godfather playing in his garden with his grandchildren. Bulger is a guy who enjoyed the limelight, hobnobbing, nightclubbing, travelling to the French Rivera, living the good life. Yet there he was, hiding in plain sight in a rent controlled apartment in Santa Monica, go figure. You’d think he’d be in Buenos Aires, Sicily somewhere he could live like a king or perhaps Dublin, Ireland where he could put on a pea cap and blend in with a thousand other old Irish guys. While FBI and other law enforcement agencies were turning over rocks on two continents looking for him, he was sitting in his modest apartment or strolling the Santa Monica Pier. Unreal.
Bulger faced federal charges that include murder, conspiracy to commit murder, narcotics distribution, extortion and money laundering. For awhile lots of people thought the former gangster/FBI informant would be able to strike up some sort of deal? Although Bulger denies it, for years he was an FBI informant, ratting out other Boston gang activities and getting a pass from the FBI in return which allowed him to continue his own crime spree Sweet deal. There’s been talk that Bulger owned at least six FBI agents as well as others in law enforcement. In fact it was an FBI agent that gave Bulger the heads up that indictments against him were coming down, giving him ample time to make his getaway. It’s good to have friends in high places.
So now more than two years later his trial is drawing to a close. It was a sordid affair. 63 witnesses testified for the prosecution and provided chilling details about the murders and other gruesome crimes Bulger and his gang took part in. The federal prosecutor in his closing argument referred to Bulger as a depraved monster who acted as “judge, jury and on occasion executioner.” His fate now rests in the hands of the jury.
Personally I don’t think Whitey gives a hoot. What does he care! I mean really, what can they do to him? Put him to death? Lock him away for life? Hell, he’s 83 years old! Not much life left. I look at his picture and see a harmless old man, not a notorious mobster, cold blooded killer. That man is long gone. I look at my 89 year old father and see a harmless old man as well, not the tough talking, rough housing, truck driving man who use to give me so much hell when I was a teen. I suppose we all mellow with age even criminals.
Now we’ll just have to wait and see what the jury decides. It definitely isn’t a slam dunk. As we’ve seen in other big name cases, you just never know how a jury is going to see things. Should be interesting.