BOSTON — James “Whitey” Bulger wants the $822,000 in cash seized from his apartment in Santa Monica, Calif., to go to relatives of victims who won monetary judgments in lawsuits but then saw those awards overturned on appeal, his lawyer told a judge Friday.
Defense attorney J.W. Carney told Judge Denise Casper that Bulger made the request while lawyers were discussing whether the seized cash should be put in the jury room during deliberations.
Bulger, 83, is on trial in a broad racketeering indictment that accuses him of participating in 19 murders in the 1970s and ’80s as leader of the Winter Hill Gang. He has pleaded not guilty and must soon say if he will testify.
Carney said Bulger wants the money to go to families who had civil judgments overturned by a federal appeals court because the statute of limitations had expired.
It appears that two families fall into that category: Relatives of Michael Donahue and Edward “Brian” Halloran. In 2011, the 1st U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals upheld an earlier decision that ruled the two families didn’t file their lawsuits against the FBI in time.
Other victims’ families have had their lawsuits tossed before trial and some have won judgments against the government, but Carney specifically cited those whose judgments were thrown out by the 1st Circuit.
Prosecutor Brian Kelly said it has always been the intention of the government to give Bulger’s seized assets to victims’ families, but he said he isn’t sure Bulger “can dictate which ones get” money.
If he’s convicted, Bulger would have to give up his assets anyway. It is routine for the government to seek forfeiture of assets acquired through illegal activities.