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Tuesday
Jun282011

James 'Whitey' Bulger Case: Feds Want to Focus on Murder Charges

WCVB-TV BOSTON(BOSTON) -- Federal prosecutors said Tuesday they want to drop racketeering charges against James "Whitey" Bulger so they can press on with murder-related charges against the former boss of Boston's Irish mob.

Bulger, who was defiant in his first appearance last week, shuffled into court Tuesday afternoon looking tired and subdued. Wearing an orange jumpsuit with the letters PCCF on the back, the mobster said nothing during the 30-minute proceedings.

It was a sharp contrast to his cocky performance last week, when he told the presiding judge he wouldn't need a court-appointed attorney if the feds would give him his money back.

The hearing Tuesday was supposed to revolve around Bulger's financial status and whether he needed taxpayer money to foot the bill for his legal representation. According to a court filing by the U.S. Attorney's Office in Massachusetts, Bulger had $822,198 in cash hidden in a wall when he was arrested June 22 after 16 years on the run.

Instead of money, the hearing before Judge Mark Wolf dealt with the government's request to dismiss "with prejudice" the 1994 racketeering charges against Bulger. The government filed a motion Tuesday to dismiss those lesser charges in favor of concentrating on more serious charges involving 19 murders that were filed in 1999.

Both the court and the defense have a chance to fight the dismissal of those charges. Peter Krupp, Bulger's current court-appointed attorney, made a plea for time to confer with his client and called the government's request to dismiss the racketeering charges "troubling" and referred to it as "forum shopping."

If prosecutors were allowed to drop the charges that include extortion, loan sharking, witness tampering and conspiracy, it would remove Bulger's case from Wolf's court, since another judge is assigned to the indictment on the murder charges.

Wolf asked Bulger's attorney to file paperwork related to the federal prosecutors' request by the end of the day Wednesday.

Krupp then asked the judge to look into leaks by law enforcement officials to members of the press. Government lawyers quickly jumped in to say they were conducting their own investigation into leaks and would respond to the court by Wednesday.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio







ABC News Radio