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Bulger gang life: collections, beatings, walks on Boston beach

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(Globalpost/GlobalPost)

By Daniel Lovering

BOSTON (Reuters) - Life in accused mob boss James "Whitey" Bulger's gang entailed collecting money from bookies, beating people up and taking long walks along Boston's waterfront to talk business, a top enforcer for the former "Winter Hill" gang told a jury on Monday.

Kevin Weeks, 57, is the second of Bulger's top associates to testify against his former boss, who is on trial on charges of committing or ordering 19 murders in the 1970s and 1980s.

Bulger, 83, fled Boston after a 1994 tip from a corrupt FBI official that his arrest was imminent. He evaded authorities for 16 years while listed prominently on the bureau's "Ten Most Wanted" list before his capture in Santa Monica, California, in June 2011.

If convicted, he faces life in prison.

During his years with the gang, Weeks recalled, he would routinely leave work as a track repairman for Boston's transit system to meet Bulger in the late afternoon.

They often walked through parts of South Boston, including Castle Island, a popular beach in the city, along with fellow gang member Stephen "The Rifleman" Flemmi to discuss business.

"Jim liked to walk for the fresh air and the exercise," he said. "We talked outside so we wouldn't be intercepted by law enforcement."

Weeks served just five years in prison after confessing to five murders in exchange for testifying against Bulger. He is the second of three top associates of the gang to testify at the trial, now in its fifth week.

Earlier, the jury heard from John "The Executioner" Martorano, who calmly recounted committing a dozen murders while working with Bulger.

Weeks said he met Bulger while he was a bouncer at a bar, Triple O's Lounge, in the early 1980s, and that he saw Flemmi and Bulger together daily in later years.

Weeks identified himself, Bulger and Flemmi - who is also due to testify - in photos shown in court, including one of the three sitting in lawn chairs near bleachers across from a public park.

Weeks turned on his former boss when he learned that Bulger for years had been talking with corrupt FBI agent John Connolly, who had grown up in the same South Boston neighborhood.

Bulger has pleaded not guilty to all charges, though in opening statements his attorney said he had been an extortionist, loan shark and drug dealer.

Also through his attorneys, Bulger has repeatedly denied serving as an FBI informant, insisting that he paid Connolly for information but never provided any of his own.

Connolly is serving a 40-year prison sentence after being convicted on murder and racketeering charges.

The story of Bulger's rise from a working-class neighborhood to become one of the most feared criminals in Boston's history has fascinated the city for years. It inspired Martin Scorsese's 2006 Academy Award-winning film "The Departed."

(Writing by Scott Malone; Editing by Dina Kyriakidou and Xavier Briand)

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/thomson-reuters/130708/bulger-gang-life-collections-beatings-walks-boston-beach