Saturday, June 25, 2011

Victim's Family Lash Out At Bulger, FBI

By Lisa E. Crowley
BROCKTON—One of the son’s of Michael Donahue, a murdered innocent bystander of accused mob boss James “Whitey” Bulger, warned all who follow the case not to be fooled by the captured fugitive’s meek and respectful demeanor in U.S. Federal District Court in Boston.
“He’s a scumbag...he’s a mass murderer and a destroyer of families,” said Tommy Donahue, the youngest of Michael Donahue’s children who was 8-years-old in 1982 when his father was gunned down in a hail of machine gun bullets on Northern Avenue all because Donahue happened to be in a car with Bulger associate Edward “Brian” Halloran who Bulger wanted dead.
The site of the shooting--Northern Avenue--was just a few hundred yards from the federal courthouse where Bulger began the first of what will be many court hearings after being captured in Santa Monica, California after 16 years on the run.
Tommy Donahue and his mother Patricia, who had kept quiet about Michael Donahue’s death, released 16 years of anger and frustration following a brief court appearance by Bulger, 81, and longtime girlfriend Catherine Grieg, Friday, June 24 at the John Joseph Moakley Court House in Boston.
Bulger faces life in prison and possibly the death penalty in two of 19 murders. Grieg could face up to five years behind bars for harboring a fugitive.
Tommy Donahue, with his arm lightly on his mother’s back, respectfully disagreed with his mother’s opinion that Bulger should be imprisoned and not get the death penalty in Oklahoma and Florida where Bulger is wanted for murder.
“I hope he gets the chair,” Donahue said. “Whether you’re 21 or 81 the electric chair is the same. I know, I’m an electrician,” he said.
Tommy Donahue said he didn’t want Bulger to have any sort of life in prison even if he is 81-years-old and might not have long to live.
His mother Patricia believes the opposite and called the electric chair “the easy way out.”
“I want him to rot in prison and be miserable just like we’ve been for the last 16 years,” she said.
Emotions ran high outside the courthouse, but inside silence pervaded Courtroom 10 when Bulger first appeared in court minutes before 4 p.m.. with his hands cuffed behind his back and surrounded by federal and court police.
Sitting in the crowd just behind Whitey Bulger was his brother Billy—the longest-sitting State Senate President and Grieg’s twin sister Margaret McCusker.
Part of the team prosecuting the case are U.S. Assistant Attorney’s Fred Wyshak Jr. and Brian Kelly—who are credited with spear-heading the dismantling of Whitey’s Winter Hill Gang and sent Bulger henchmen Stephen “The Rifleman” Flemmi, Joseph Matarano and Kevin Weeks to prison.
More than 200 members of the press, family of victims, the general public and courthouse lawyers, staff and college interns waited in line—some for several hours--to gain a seat in Courtroom 10.
Court officials allowed a percentage of each of the spectators and those who could not get into Courtroom 10 watched the proceedings on television screens in two other courtrooms.
Because of judicial process, Bulger was brought in and out of the courtroom for two separate hearings. The first was before Judge Mark Wolf and the second in front of Magistrate Judge Marianne Bowler.
Judge Wolf, who presided over the recent trial of convicted House Speaker Sal DiMasi, addressed Bulger and asked him if he understood the charges against him.
Bulger, with fingers of both hands pressed flat on the table in front of him, answered quietly, “Yes.”
During the hearing in front of Wolf, Bulger—wearing a white shirt, blue jeans and sneakers-- appeared meek and respectful—like a dawdling old man who answered questions softly or nodded.
During the second hearing in front of Bowler when the question of paying for his defense was again discussed, Bulger seemed to regain the confident form that made him the king of Boston’s underworld and manipulator of Boston’s FBI Bureau.
U.S. Assistant Attorney Brian Kelly rejected Bulger’s assertion through temporary-court appointed attorney Peter Krupp that Bulger should have a permanent attorney assigned to him and paid for by taxpayers because when he was arrested at his Santa Monica apartment authorities found $800,000 in cash and almost 30 valuable guns and weapons.
“We certainly don’t think this was his last stash,” Kelly said.
Kelly said officials are still seeking more Bulger assets and affirmed the government would seize everything it finds.
Kelly also pointed to co-defendant Catherine Grieg’s submission of pre-trial court financial documents for her defense indicate Whitey’s brother Billy is willing to help pay for bail and possibly use "family assets" for trial expenses.
When Bowler asked Bulger if he could pay for his defense or needed a court-appointed lawyer, Bulger quipped, “I could if you give me my money back,”which gained chuckles fand groans from many in the courtroom.
Bowler said: “You’ll have to talk to Mr. Kelly about that.”
During both hearings Kelly requested Bulger—a fugitive from justice for 16 years and on the FBI’s Top 10 Most Wanted list—not be allowed bail.
“He is a danger to the community and quite obviously a risk of flight,” Kelly said.
Kelly also added Bulger is a risk to obstruct justice and could threaten potential witnesses if allowed to be released.
When the question of Whitey’s possible release was first discussed in front of Judge Wolf, the crowd in one of the spillover courtrooms—mostly silent through the proceedings—let out quick laughs and scoffs that the question of Whitey's release even has to be asked.
Temporary defense attorney Peter Krupp said Bulger would not argue the point at that moment, but requested and was granted Bulger’s right to revisit the bail question at a future hearing.
Until the matter of bail is decided Bulger will be held at Plymouth County House of Corrections where he was taken by a motorcade of Boston and State Police and U.S. Marshal's.
After Bulger’s two hearings, which lasted about 15 minutes each, Grieg was brought into the courtroom at about 4:45 p.m. to face charges of harboring a fugitive.
Grieg turned to look over her left shoulder to make eye contact with her sister McCusker as court officers took off the handcuffs that pinned Grieg’s arms behind her back.
After being released and seated at a table, Grieg, wearing a white top, white pants and white sneakers, again looked over her shoulder to look at her sister.
Similar to Bulger’s hearings, Grieg was held without bail until a future hearing and the question of her court-appointed or paid attorney and possible bail, is tentatively scheduled for Tuesday, June 28 at 2:30 p.m.
Grieg’s hearing took about 10 minutes.
Back outside crowds of reporters and cameras awaited comments from Bulger’s temporary lawyer Krupp and family members of victims.
Krupp came out first and quickly addressed the throng of press and onlookers.
“We look forward to facing these charges in court,” Krupp said.
After Krupp, the Donahues let out their hearts.
Patricia told reporters she thought Bulger seemed meek and frail. She said the court hearing was an anticlimax after 16 years.
“He looked like an old man,” she said.
Tommy Donahue then warned Bulger’s appearance as a meek, old man should not be believed.
Both mother and son lambasted the FBI for their handling of the investigation and said they believe nothing about reports that the FBI is crediting a public-information campaign begun Monday, June 20 in 14 media markets, including San Francisco and San Diego, but not Los Angeles—as the break that finally netted the tip that led to Bulger’s arrest Wednesday.
“If the FBI did its job they could have had him 16 years ago,” Tommy Donahue said.

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