In the end, James “Whitey” Bulger, the notorious gangster who once reigned with terror in Boston’s underworld, was an elderly man living in an apartment in a seaside California city, with a fortune in cash and an arsenal of guns close at hand, prosecutors say.
Nearing the close of their federal case, prosecutors today showed a jury the $822,000 in cash and 30 firearms the FBI allegedly found hidden inside the walls of Bulger’s apartment in Santa Monica, after his arrest in 2011.
FBI Special Agent Scott Garriola testified how Bulger, after 16 years on the lam, was found living with long-time girlfriend Catherine Greig. The two were posing as harmless retirees Charles and Carol Gasko.
Garriola was the final witness called by US Attorney Carmen Ortiz’s office in the high-profile racketeering trial of the 83-year-old Bulger. The government rested shortly before noon. It had laid out an extensive case against Bulger since the trial began June 12.
The defense said it would call eight witnesses on Monday and seven on Tuesday, but it hadn’t yet decided whether Bulger himself will testify, as his lawyers had vowed earlier. A prosecutor said the trial could end as early as next week; the defense said it wasn’t clear.
Detailing the end of Bulger’s life on the run, Garriola said that when Bulger was finally in custody, the South Boston gangster signed paperwork permitting law enforcement to search his apartment. “This is the first time I’ve signed this name in a long time,’’ Bulger told the agent, Garriola testified.
He also testified that Bulger expected that some consideration would be given to Greig because of Bulger’s decision to cooperate with law enforcement.
Garriola testified that he lured Bulger out of the apartment by cutting the lock on a storage locker the couple controlled at the complex, and then having the property manager call Greig to report that the lock had been damaged.
About five minutes later, Bulger came out of an elevator in the building, heading to the locker. That’s when Garriola and other law enforcement officers grabbed Bulger.
“He swore at us a few times, told us he was not going to get down on the ground, there was grease on the ground,” Garriola recalled.
Bulger initially insisted that he was Charlie Gasko, but eventually admitted his true identity. “You know who I am. I’m Whitey Bulger,’’ he told the officers.
Garriola testified that with Bulger in custody, he asked him if he needed to send in a SWAT team to get Grieg out of the apartment. Bulger told him she would cooperate and Greig peacefully surrendered.
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