BOSTON — James “Whitey” Bulger, the 82-year-old Irish-American mobster who is charged with participating in 19 murders, will take the stand in his own defense and will claim that he had immunity for many of his crimes, his lawyer said Monday in federal court.
“Our client, James Bulger, has made it clear that he is going to testify at this trial,” J.W. Carney Jr. told reporters outside the courthouse. “He is going to tell the truth, if the judge permits him to. And we will show that James Bulger is indeed telling the truth.”
Carney said that he will buttress Bulger’s claim of immunity through corroborating witnesses, presumably from within the Department of Justice.
Carney has not identified the source of the claimed immunity, but did say that it came not from the FBI, for whom Bulger was an informant, but from an official in the U.S. Attorneys Office in the 1970s.
In previously filed court documents, Carney wrote: “The defendant will show that a pattern of corruption and misconduct occurred at many levels of the federal government in an effort to enforce its immunity agreement with the defendant.”
Monday’s hearing involved heated exchanges between prosecutors and Carney, who is demanding that the government unseal thousands of documents which he said are being unfairly kept from the defense team.
“What, I ask again, does the government have to hide?” Carney said to reporters after the hearing. “What don’t they want us or the public to see.”
Bulger was arrested last year in Santa Monica, California after having been on the run for 16 years. His trial is scheduled to begin in March 2013.
He is being held in solitary confinement at the Plymouth House of Correction, south of Boston. His girlfriend, 61-year-old Catherine Greig, who pled guilty earlier this year to harboring Bulger, is serving an eight-year sentence at a low-security facility in Waseca, Minnesota.