Bulger, in a clear soft voice, pleads not guilty to federal indictment alleging 19 murdershttp://www.boston.com/Boston/metrodesk/2011/07/bulger-clear-soft-voice-pleads-not-guilty-federal-indictment-alleging-murders/FwRrcmaYuZTzfAMks7WabP/index.html
With his two brothers looking on, James “Whitey” Bulger this afternoon pleaded not guilty to a 32-count federal indictment that alleges he participated in 19 murders in a brief court appearance.
Bulger appeared in US District Court wearing the orange jail uniform and New Balance sneakers issued to federal pre-trial detainees while they are being held at the Plymouth County jail.
He answered “not guilty’’ multiple times in a clear voice that was soft and just above a whisper and was closely watched by some of the relatives of people who were murdered.
The 81-year-old Bulger was flanked by his court-appointed attorney, J.W. Carney Jr., who introduced himself to Bulger’s brothers and asked them if they wanted a private moment with their notorious sibling.
The hearing took just 15 minutes to complete and Bulger is not scheduled to be back in court until Sept. 14.
Magistrate Judge Marianne B. Bowler today rejected a request by Carney to let him add Janice Bassil to the Bulger defense team. Carney and Bassil have been partners in a Boston law firm since 1989.
Bowler said from the bench that Carney can tap Bassil’s expertise without formally adding her to the taxpayer-financed defense team.
Bowler appointed Carney as Bulger’s lead counsel last week after concluding the mobster could not pay for his own defense attorney. At the time, Bowler wrote she would consider adding Bassil, or another lawyer, to Bulger’s case because of the legal complexities involved.
Bulger arrived at the South Boston courthouse earlier today by car. Last week, Bulger traveled from the Plymouth County jail via a US Coast Guard helicopter, which landed at Logan International Airport where a caravan of heavily armed US marshals drove him to the court.
The US Marshals Service defended the use of the Coast Guard helicopter, saying it cost just $1,500 in fuel. The Coast Guard, while stressing the helicopter would have been in use anyway, said a trip on a Jayhawk chopper costs about $7,500.
The Coast Guard said they are not involved in Bulger’s transportation today.
At the same time that the criminal prosecution of Bulger finally got underway, an attorney for relatives of one of Bulger’s alleged murder victims were in another courtroom asking for a lien to be put on $800,000 cash seized from Bulger in his California apartment.
In papers filed in US District Court, Walpole attorney James E. Riley Jr. is asking that the family be given legal standing to tap into that cash to settle a $2. 2 million wrongful death judgment against Bulger.
Milano was 30 years old and a bartender at a North End restaurant when he was shot and killed while driving his Mercedes-Benz in Brighton in 1973. Confessed hitman John Martorano admitted in court that he shot and killed Milano at Bulger’s orders, but also acknowledged he was supposed to shoot the restaurant’s owner, who drove a car like Milano’s.
The Milanos are the second of Bulger’s alleged victims to ask the federal courts for the cash, which is currently being held by federal authorities. Riley noted in court papers that courts in the past have rejected claims by Bulger’s alleged victims for access to Bulger cash seized by federal authorities during his years on the run.
Late today, the US Attorney Carmen Ortiz filed papers urging US District Court Judge Richard Stearns to reject the Milano family request, and any others that may be filed.
The government wants Bulger to forfeit the cash as a result of his criminal activity, and no money should be distributed until Bulger’s criminal case ends, prosecutors wrote.