By Jim Smith
BOSTON — Irish American mobster James "Whitey" Bulger was indicted last Thursday by a federal grand jury for the murder of 18 people, 16 men and two women. The indictment also alleges that three other murders were committed by associates of Bulger and his sidekick, Stephen Flemmi.
The 82-page indictment alleges that Bulger committed 11 of the murders while he was serving as a top-echelon FBI informant who was helping to bring down the Italian Mafia in New England.
Bulger, who is now 71, has been a fugitive since early 1995, when he was allegedly tipped off about a pending indictment by his FBI handler, agent John Connolly. Last December, both Bulger and Connolly were indicted on racketeering charges.
U.S. Attorney Donald Stern said Thursday that the use of Bulger as an FBI informant was a "horrible mistake" that has left "a deep stain on the FBI."
Relatives of some of Bulger’s victims now plan to sue the FBI for wrongful deaths, claiming that the agency coddled Bulger and looked the other way while he killed people who got in his way.
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Among those relatives is the family of John McIntyre, who disappeared at the age of 32 in November 1984 after he implicated Bulger in the unsuccessful plot to smuggle tons of arms and ammunition to the IRA from the fishing trawler Valhalla.
Last week’s indictment alleges that McIntyre and two other Bulger victims were initially buried in the basement of a South Boston home of a Bulger associate. The bodies were exhumed and reburied in Dorchester in 1985 after that home was put up for sale, and in January of this year those remains were unearthed after Kevin Weeks, a former top deputy of Bulger who is now in jail and seeking leniency, led authorities to the shallow grave.
Among other victims identified in the indictment are rival gang member Paul McGonagle and a disgruntled member of Bulger’s group, Tommy King, whose bodies were uncovered last month.
Bulger is also charged in the indictment with ordering the killing in 1981 of Roger Wheeler, chairman of Telex Corporation and owner of World Jai Alai, after he reportedly told police that gangsters in New England were stealing game profits. He was killed in Tulsa, Okla.
John Callahan, one-time president of Jai Alai, was killed a year later in Miami after he reportedly told authorities about links between World Jai Alai and Bulger’s gang.
Charles Prouty, a special agent now in charge of the FBI in Boston, said Thursday that he and fellow agents are troubled by the allegations.
"Ninety-nine percent of the FBI’s employees are honest, hard-working employees who often put their lives on the line, and every one of us are just very, very disturbed, disappointed, feel betrayed and are very upset by this," Prouty said.
A federal grand jury is continuing to look into evidence linking the FBI and other law-enforcement agencies to Bulger and his gang.
Prouty said he believes that "odds are very high" that the FBI will eventually capture Bulger.