James 'Whitey' Bulger, reputed Boston organized-crime boss and former FBI Most Wanted fugitive, appeared in federal court Monday. Some of the trial's likely narratives were evident in pretrial motions.
Jane Flavell Collins/AP
It’s been a long time coming, thanks to a manhunt that took 16 years, but the trial of James “Whitey” Bulger is about to begin.
Mr. Bulger, long at the top of the FBI’s Most Wanted list, sat before a US District Court judge Monday for a pretrial hearing, dressed in an orange jumpsuit with a long-sleeved white shirt underneath.
He is alleged to have maintained a lucrative crime racket in South Boston through a quarter-century reign of terror ending in the mid-1990s. Federal prosecutors are charging him with 19 murders, extortion, money laundering, and other crimes.
The 83-year-old Bulger showed little expression Monday, staring forward with his arms folded in front of him for much of the hearing. He wore eyeglasses and, unlike when he was captured at a California apartment in 2011, the defendant was clean-shaven.
But the case is packed with emotion. Victims’ families are eager for justice. For residents of the region, the trial embodies a years-long effort to root out entrenched organized crime.