By Cliff Renfrew – Radar Reporter
Notorious gangster James ‘Whitey’ Bulger pled ‘not guilty’ in court Wednesday to a 32-count federal indictment that alleges he participated in 19 murders.
With his two brothers looking on Bulger appeared in South Boston’s US District Court wearing the orange jail uniform that was issued to him by the Plymouth County jail, where he is currently incarcerated.
The 81-year-old answered “not guilty” multiple times in a clear voice while he was closely watched by some of the relatives of those he is accused of murdering.
Bulger was flanked by his court-appointed attorney J.W. Carney Jr., who introduced himself to Bulger’s brothers and asked them if they wanted a private moment with their notorious sibling.
The hearing took just 15 minutes to complete and Bulger is not scheduled to be back in court until Sept. 14, 2011
Magistrate Judge Marianne B. Bowler rejected a request by Carney to let him add Janice Bassil to the Bulger defense team. Carney and Bassil have been partners in a Boston law firm since 1989.
Bulger arrived for Wednesday’s court appearance by car. Last week he travelled from the Plymouth County jail via a US Coast Guard helicopter, which landed at Logan International Airport where a caravan of heavily armed US Marshals drove him to the court.
The US Marshals Service defended the use of the Coast Guard helicopter, saying it cost just $1,500 in fuel. The Coast Guard, while stressing the helicopter would have been in use anyway, said a trip on a Jayhawk chopper costs about $7,500.
The Coast Guard said they were not involved in Bulger’s most recent transportation.
Bulger, 81, was the leader of Boston’s notorious Winter Hill Gang when he fled in January of 1995 after being tipped off by a former Boston FBI agent that he was about to be indicted. Bulger was a top-echelon FBI informant.
He was arrested along with his longtime girlfriend, 60-year-old Catherine Greig, on June 22 at their apartment in Santa Monica, California.
Authorities found a stash of weapons in their residence, along with $800,000 in cash – much of it hidden in the apartment’s walls. The arrest was based on a tip after federal authorities reactivated a nationwide publicity campaign to find him.
At the time of his arrest, he was number one on the FBI’s Most Wanted List.