Boston gangster James 'Whitey' Bulger gets life in prison

Former Boston crime boss James "Whitey" Bulger is sentenced to life in prison for his murderous reign of terror in the 1970s and '80s, bringing to a close a case that exposed FBI corruption so deep that many people across the city thought he would never be brought to justice.

Former mob boss whose story inspired Scorsese movie The Departed, guilty of 11 murders

84 year-old ex-crime boss, defiant to the end, calls his trial on racketeering charges a sham 3:29

Convicted mob boss James "Whitey" Bulger will spend the rest of his life in prison after a U.S. judge on Thursday sentenced him to serve two life terms plus five years for crimes he committed, including 11 murders.

"The scope, the callousness, the depravity of your crimes are almost unfathomable," U.S. District Judge Denise Casper told Bulger, 84, who was convicted in August on charges including racketeering, extortion, drug dealing and other crimes as he ran Boston's Winter Hill crime gang in the 1970s and '80s. 
A 1953 Boston police booking photo shows James 'Whitey' Bulger after an arrest. Bulger was the reigning gangster of the Boston criminal underworld at one time and spent 16 years on the lam. After his arrest in 2011, he was tried and convicted of extortion, drug-dealing and murder and was sentenced in a two-day hearing ending Thursday. (Boston Police/Associated Press)

Bulger stood silently, wearing an orange prison jumpsuit over a long-sleeved T-shirt, as his sentence was read.

Attorneys for Bulger declined to speak on his behalf at the two-day sentencing hearing, saying their client had instructed them not to participate in a proceeding he viewed as "a sham."

After a two-month trial, Bulger was found guilty of 31 of 32 criminal counts, including 11 of the 19 murders prosecutors had accused him of committing.

Bulger's trial was raw, broken by outbursts in which former gangmates-turned-prosecution witnesses swore at the man who lived on the lam for 16 years.

Scorsese film

During Thursday's hearing, he spoke only once, replying "Yes," when Casper asked if he understood he had a right to appeal the verdict.

Bulger's story has captivated the city's residents for years. He rose from a South Boston housing project to become the most feared person in the city at the same time that his brother, William, became the powerful president of the state senate.

His life inspired Martin Scorsese's 2006 Academy Award-winning film The Departed.

"The testimony of human suffering that you and your associates inflicted on others was at times agonizing to hear and painful to watch," Casper said. "At times during the trial I wished that we were watching a movie, that what we were hearing was not real."


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