Whitey Bulger has been sentenced to life in prison for eleven murders and other racketeering charges of which he was convicted earlier this year. The former mob boss and FBI informant’s sentence was exactly what prosecutors wanted – two consecutive life sentences plus five extra years. At 84 years of age, there is no chance that Bulger will ever see the outside of prison again.
In a surprising move, Judge Denise Casper allowed victim impact statements from the families of eight victims for whose murders Bulger was not convicted. Juror Number 12, Janet Uhlar, openly questioned the judge’s decision to allow testimony by these families. Author Margaret McLean, who is also an adjunct law professor at Boston College, attended every day of the trial. According to McLean, Judge Casper may allow those statements because, according to the law, she is able to consider the defendant’s behavior in total.
She believes that the victim impact statements given yesterday may have had an impact on Bulger. “What I did notice from court was he [Bulger] was doodling and during some of these stories, he stopped, and I could tell he was listening. At one point, he changed his glasses and I could tell it might have made an impact,” reports McLean. Victims’ families were vocal and descriptive in their hatred of Bulger. Some of the invectives used to describe Bulger during the victim impact statements were sociopath, coward, devil, and disgrace to the Irish.
Whitey Bulger being sentenced to life in prison has been a long time coming for the residents of the blue-collar Irish section of South Boston in which Bulger and his henchman supervised a ring of loan sharks and gambling scams. He was not above killing, stealing, or protecting the drug dealers who were wreaking havoc on his part of town. The difference in the Bulger case versus other high profile mobsters is that he was able to run a criminal empire while also working as an informant for the Boston FBI. When the federal government began charging Bulger for his numerous crimes, his previous FBI contact tipped him off. This information allowed Whitey Bulger to escape arrest, spending 16 years as a fugitive before being captured.
Although sentenced to life in prison, Bulger is adamant that his trial was unfair and based on government lies. Bulger was also ordered to pay $19.5 million in restitution, a sum that victims will never see. Whitey Bulger will now fade away into the prison system, a bitter shell of the powerful overlord he once was. Given his pride and his unwillingness to accept blame, perhaps that is the greatest punishment of all. As one of his victim’s sons said to him yesterday, “You don’t even matter anymore.”
By Jennifer Pfalz