Boston mob boss labeled 'depraved' as trial closes

Reputed Boston mob boss James "Whitey" Bulger and his gang acted as "judge, jury and sometimes executioners" in committing "horrid" crimes, US federal prosecutors said Monday in their closing arguments.

The remarks follow weeks of chilling testimony in a Massachusetts courthouse about murders and other crimes attributed to Bulger.

The 83-year-old is charged with 19 murders as well as extortion, money laundering and arms trafficking. He was arrested in California in 2011 after spending 16 years on the run.

"The Winter Hill gang and the Mafia acted as judge, jury and sometimes executioners in any dispute. They act as the law in the criminal world," prosecutor Fred Wyshak said of the group Bulger ran.

"The evidence in this case is overwhelming. As leader, he is legally reponsible for it all," the lawyer said.

Prosecutors called 63 witnesses in the trial that began June 4. Some recounted harrowing tales of murder victims having their teeth removed to block posthumous identification and a mobster's girlfriend being strangled to death because she "knew too much."

"You jurors can find Bulger guilty of murder or conspiracy to commit murder," Wyshak said, calling Bulger "depraved" for his "horrid" crimes.

The jury is to begin deliberations Tuesday on Bulger's fate.

Bulger declined to testify last week, calling the trial a sham. He has asserted that federal agents granted him immunity from prosecution during his years operating as boss of the Boston underworld.

Bulger denies having been an informant for the FBI but close links between his Winter Hill Gang and some FBI agents in the 1970s and 80s are well documented.

Wyshak downplayed the importance of the issue, however, saying "it doesn't matter if he's an informant. He's a murderer."

Prosecutors have said Bulger became an informant for the FBI to protect his criminal enterprises.

Closing arguments were expected from the defense Monday afternoon.

Bulger's case was the inspiration for Jack Nicholson's character in the Oscar-winning Martin Scorsese film "The Departed," which came out in 2006.

After fleeing Boston, Bulger lived under a false name in Santa Monica, California, along with his partner, Catherine Greig, 22 years his junior.

Greig was also arrested and sentenced in June 2012 to eight years in prison after pleading guilty to helping protect the fugutive.