Southie mobster James “Whitey” Bulger was sentenced today to two consecutive life terms — plus five years — after a federal judge ripped into the aging gangster for his “unfathomable” crimes all for the love of blood money.
Bulger, 84, who remained quiet again refusing to address the court or family members of his victims, was also ordered to pay $19,510,276 and 43 cents in restitution to the families. There was no reaction inside the court from families when the sentence was handed down.
U.S. District Court Judge Denise J. Casper took last night to sleep on her decision and what she heard yesterday from 12 sons, daughters, widows and siblings whose impact statements spoke of despair, family suicides, lost loves and even the triumph of moving on.
Today, she is not holding back: “It is hard to know where to begin,” Casper said. “The scope, the callousness, the depravity of your crimes is almost unfathomable … it was all about money.
“It takes no business acumen to take money from someone at the end of a gun,” she added as Bulger remained stoic dressed in his orange prison jumpsuit. “You have in certain quarters become a face of this city but you sir do not represent the face of this city” the jury that convicted him this summer does.
In a touch of courtroom irony, the judge added: “Upon release from prison, you will be on probation for five years. …” Whitey looks much heavier than at the beginning of his landmark trial. His hands remained crossed through it all today.
Bulger has has 14 days to file a notice of appeal. The judge also advised Bulger of his appellate rights, more boilerplate. “Do you understand sir?” (Nods, doesn’t say anything.)
Tommy Donahue, son of murder victim Michael Donahue, said of seeing Bulger for the last time, “It took 31 years, six months, two days to finally get a conviction of somebody for my father. That old bastard is going to be in prison. He’s going to die in prison. It’s a good feeling. It’s bittersweet, but it’s a damn good feeling. The next time I hear anything about him,l hopefully he’s dead.”
Donahue said he didn’t even need to see Bulger convicted in a death-penalty case for closure.
“I say stick him in a cell, shut the door and let him rot.” he said.
Sandra Patient of Manchester, N.H., carried a photograph of her brutally tortured and executed uncle Arthur “Bucky” Barrett into the courtroom.
“I brought my uncle’s photo today because I wanted to put a face to the name. I wanted these eyes to see the sentencing. He couldn’t be here,” said Patient, who has still found the strength to forgive Bulger.
“I hate the acts this man has committed,” she said, “but the Barrett family has no hate in our hearts for the human being that he is. Everybody does have the right to a second chance, whether you’ve done wrong to one or many.”
Assistant U.S. Attorney Brian Kelly had asked that Bulger, still facing death penalty eligible murder prosecutions in Florida and Oklahoma, be sentenced to two consecutive life sentences plus five years for his convictions in August for murder, racketeering, drug dealing, money laundering and extortion. Kelly told Casper yesterday the punishment was “severe, and appropriately so.” He got what he asked for.
On Bulger’s orders, his defense team neither submitted a sentencing recommendation nor any personal, financial or medical history for the serial slayer’s pre-sentencing report that could have been used by Casper as mitigating factors to show him mercy. Bulger’s sinister life of crime spanned three decades and culminated with his capture in 2011 in Santa Monica, Calif., after a 16-year global manhunt by multiple law enforcement agencies, including the FBI, who he’d secretly served as a top-echelon informant for their war against his rivals in the Mafia.
After a sidebar conference today, the judge annouced “we are in recess.” Defense attorney J.W. Carney Jr. shakes Bulger’s hand. Whitey’s days in Boston are over.