BOSTON — Jurors in James “Whitey” Bulger’s racketeering trial on Thursday were shown machine guns and other weapons from a massive arsenal that investigators say he and his gang owned, as prosecutors attempted to show that Bulger ran a criminal enterprise through violence, intimidation and fear.
Retired state police Col. Thomas Foley identified weapons hidden in several locations during a 2000 investigation, including in a shed behind a South Boston home owned by the mother of Bulger’s partner, Stephen “The Rifleman” Flemmi. When investigators searched the shed, they found just one handgun, but later, Flemmi’s son led them to a house in Somerville and a storage facility in Florida where investigators say the guns had been moved.
Foley slowly and methodically identified dozens of guns through photographs. But prosecutor Fred Wyshak also pulled out six machine guns — one at a time — and asked Foley to identify them.
Foley said Bulger’s gang collected fees known as “rent” or “tribute” from bookmakers, drug dealers and others to allow them to operate within their territory.
“What were the consequences of not paying a fee?” Wyshak asked.
“Well, it could range from being put out of business to taking a beating, or actually at times, some people were killed,” Foley said.
Bulger, the former leader of the Winter Hill Gang, is charged with a long list of crimes in a 32-count racketeering indictment, including participating in 19 killings in the 1970s and ‘80s. He was one of the FBI’s most wanted fugitives after he fled Boston in 1994.
Bulger, now 83, was captured in Santa Monica, Calif., in 2011.
During cross-examination by Bulger’s lawyer, Hank Brennan, Foley acknowledged that none of the weapons were found in Bulger’s house and neither his fingerprints nor DNA were found on any of them.
But later, during questioning by Wyshak, Foley said “numerous” guns were found in Bulger’s Santa Monica apartment when he was arrested two years ago. After Bulger’s arrest, authorities said they found about $800,000 in cash and more than 30 guns in the apartment.