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Tuesday, 28 June 2011

James (Whitey) Bulger, the legendary Boston crime boss, traveled to Las Vegas often to play the slots

17:16 | , ,

James (Whitey) Bulger may have been on the lam, as they say, but he did not let it cramp his style.

During his 16 years in hiding, federal prosecutors say, Mr. Bulger, the legendary Boston crime boss, traveled to Las Vegas often to play the slots. And wearing a disguise, he even returned to Boston, “armed to the teeth” to “take care of some unfinished business.”

The disclosure came in a court filing on Monday, amid an escalating fight over whether Mr. Bulger should get free legal counsel in the two looming cases against him. Prosecutors restated their belief that he has hidden assets that could pay for his defense.

But Mr. Bulger’s temporary lawyer, Peter B. Krupp, said that Mr. Bulger, 81, had no assets beyond the more than $800,000 that the government seized from the Santa Monica, Calif., apartment where they captured him last week. Nor will Mr. Bulger ask relatives like his brother William, a former president of the Massachusetts State Senate, to pay his legal bills, Mr. Krupp said in a memorandum to Judge Mark L. Wolf of Federal District Court.

“His family has not come forward to hire counsel,” Mr. Krupp wrote, “and there is no evidence to support the government’s surmise that extended family members might be willing and able to hire counsel.”

Brian Kelly, an assistant United States attorney, wrote in the government’s court filing that Mr. Bulger’s disclosures of trips to Boston and Las Vegas (where he “claimed he won more than he lost”) suggested that Mr. Bulger “may have additional assets and/or allies willing to assist him in his current predicament.”

Much of the $822,198 seized from Mr. Bulger was found hidden inside a wall of his apartment, Mr. Kelly wrote. A judge has placed a lien on the money at the request of two of Mr. Bulger’s alleged victims.

A hearing on the issue is scheduled for Tuesday. In the meantime, Mr. Krupp asked Judge Wolf to bar the F.B.I. and other law enforcement agencies from leaking details of the case to the news media, saying it would already be “more challenging than in any case in modern memory” to get Mr. Bulger a fair trial. He is facing charges in connection with 19 murders and other crimes.

“The jury pool has surely been tainted by the flood of publicity about this case over the last 25 years,” Mr. Krupp wrote. “If it is now possible — and Mr. Bulger seriously questions whether it will be possible — for Mr. Bulger to receive a fair trial, law enforcement leaks of non-public information must end.”

Mr. Bulger’s girlfriend, Catherine Greig, had also initially sought a court-appointed lawyer to defend her against the charge of harboring a fugitive. But on Monday, she hired Kevin Reddington, a well-known criminal defense lawyer in private practice.

Ms. Greig, a former dental hygienist who went on the run with Mr. Bulger in 1995, was arrested with him in California on Wednesday after a tipster led the F.B.I. to their apartment. Mr. Reddington’s clients have included Mo Vaughn, a former player for the Boston Red Sox, who was acquitted of drunken-driving charges in 1998.

Mr. Reddington did not respond to a phone call and e-mail; it was unclear if he was charging Ms. Greig or taking her case pro bono. She is due in court Thursday for a detention hearing.

Mr. Kelly said in the government’s court filing that Mr. Bulger had told the authorities after his arrest that William Bulger might be willing to help post bail for Ms. Greig.

Mr. Kelly asked Judge Wolf to require affidavits from William and another brother, John, before deciding whether Mr. Bulger was entitled to public counsel.

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