Whitey Bulger, the infamous Boston gangster whose life has inspired several books and films--including "The Departed"--began his trial today on racketeering and murder charges. The story of how he rose to power over the Winter Hill Gang, allegedly killed 19 people, and somehow got the FBI in his pocket is sensational to say the least, but at least one juror didn't think so; during opening statements this morning, the man nodded off for several minutes.
Bulger is accused of using force--sometimes deadly--to get what he wanted from some of Boston's undesirables. The Irish mob made their ill-gotten funds disappear by buying up property in their neighborhood, but in 1994, Bulger was tipped off by an FBI informant that he was on the verge of being busted on federal racketeering charges. He went into hiding, and that's where he stayed for 16 years. Two years ago, he was captured in Santa Monica with his girlfriend, who received eight years for aiding and abetting a known criminal.
Now, the stories of Bulger's misdeeds are about to come to light, in grisly and fascinating detail.
"The guy is a sociopathic killer," Tom Foley, an organized crime investigator who spent most of his career with the Massachusetts State Police trying to bust Bulger, told CNN. "He loved that type of life. He's one of the hardest and cruelest individuals that operated in the Boston area. He's a bad, bad, bad guy."
Bulger's tactics for avoiding detection reportedly included cutting off the fingers and pulling the teeth of the people he killed so they couldn't be identified. It also helped that he had a friend working within the FBI who tipped him off to anything he wanted to know; disgraced agent John Connolly is now serving 50 years for second-degree murder in the death of a businessman who was about to testify against Bulger and other Mob members in 1982.
The trial is just getting started, but it's sure to be a doozy. And as more details of Bulger's deeds come to light, it's doubtful any more jurors will decide to take a nap. It may also make Johnny Depp rethink his position on salary.