BOSTON – A magistrate judge on Monday set a Nov. 5 trial date for James “Whitey” Bulger, rejecting a plea from the reputed gangster’s lawyers for more time to prepare.
Bulger, the former leader of the Winter Hill Gang, is charged with participating in 19 murders. He was captured in Santa Monica, Calif., in June, after 16 years on the run.
During a hearing in federal court Monday, Bulger’s attorney, J.W. Carney Jr., said it would take his law firm at least a year to go through more than 500,000 documents and nearly 1,000 tapes prosecutors have turned over to the defense.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Brian Kelly said it appears that the 82-year-old Bulger is trying to “run out the clock” to avoid trial altogether.
“To suggest that he needs a full year … I don’t think is appropriate,” Kelly said.
Magistrate Judge Marianne Bowler said she understands what a “monumental task” reviewing the materials will be and said she would consider Carney’s request to hire additional lawyers. Bowler scheduled a status hearing for March 19.
Bulger, who was also a top-echelon FBI informant, fled Boston in 1995 after being tipped by John Connolly Jr., his longtime FBI handler. Connolly recently completed a 10-year prison sentence on racketeering charges and is now serving a 40-year sentence for helping to set in motion a mob hit in 1982 against a business executive.
Tom Donahue, the son of a man allegedly killed by Bulger, said he and the families of other victims want to see Bulger go to trial.
“My biggest fear is delays,” he said.
Donahue’s father, Michael, a truck driver, was killed during a hit on a man who was cooperating with investigators against Bulger. Michael Donahue gave the man a ride home. Bulger and another man are accused of riddling their car with bullets.
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