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Captured fugitive 'Whitey' Bulger appears before judges

By the CNN Wire Staff
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Bulger captured after years on the run
  • NEW: Restaurant manager recalls the pair's fancy meal
  • James "Whitey" Bulger looks forward to facing charges, attorney says
  • Bulger's brother, a former state senator, smiled at the former fugitive during proceedings
  • James Bulger's girlfriend appears in separate hearing

Read more about this story from CNN affiliate KABC.

Boston (CNN) -- Whisked to Boston to face dozens of charges, including murder and racketeering, captured fugitive James "Whitey" Bulger made a court appearance Friday and said he could afford a lawyer "if you give me my money back."

Bulger, 81, appeared before two federal magistrate judges because he faces two 100-plus-page indictments featuring a litany of allegations dating back to the early 1970s.

The accused mobster, who authorities said was the leader of the Winter Hill Gang, "looks forward to facing the charges against him," his provisional attorney, Peter Krupp, said after the proceedings.

Bulger, arrested after being on the lam 16 years, was transported from California in a private jet, along with his longtime girlfriend, Catherine Elizabeth Greig. They were quickly driven to the courthouse.

Bulger, Greig lived good life in Santa Monica

Relatives of some of Bulger's alleged victims were in the packed courtroom.

Bulger, shackled when he entered court, did not seek bail or enter a plea Friday. He may ask for bail later.

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"He's a murderer and a destroyer of families," said Tom Donahue, who said Bulger is responsible for the death of his father, Michael. Donahue and his mother, Patricia Donahue, said the FBI should have found Bulger before this week.

"(Bulger) seemed like a very meek man, spoke very softly, was more concerned about what he had, rather than what's going on in his life," Patricia Donohue told reporters.

Bulger told a judge he has the money to pay for a lawyer "if you give me my money back." The FBI said it found more than $800,000 in cash at the suspect's California apartment.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Brian Kelly said that, based on a conversation with Greig, prosecutors believe Massachusetts political figure William Bulger will help pay for his brother's defense.

The prosecutor said he believes the reputed mob boss has significant resources. "He didn't earn $800,000 working a paper route along the Santa Monica Boulevard," Kelly said.

William Bulger, former president of the Massachusetts State Senate, smiled at his brother during the proceedings. William Bulger had no substantive comment when he left the courthouse.

Bulger vanished in 1995 into lore and became the inspiration for the 2006 Martin Scorsese film "The Departed." He was nabbed by the FBI on Wednesday night in Southern California.

Bulger was arrested with Greig, who is accused of harboring a fugitive. She made an initial appearance before a judge in a separate hearing in Boston on Friday. Greig will have a hearing for counsel Tuesday.

Bulger faces 19 counts of murder, along with conspiracy to commit murder, extortion, narcotics distribution and money laundering charges, the FBI said. He could receive a life sentence if convicted on the more serious charges.

Bulger had been living in a Santa Monica apartment and was arrested outside it, the FBI said.

Neither he nor Greig put up a fight, authorities said. After the arrests, members of the Fugitive Task Force, which included the FBI and police, searched the apartment. In addition to the cash, 30 firearms and fake IDs were found, the FBI said.

A neighbor of the couple, Catalina Schlank, said Greig once confided in her that Bulger was in the early stages of Alzheimer's.

A general manager at Michael's, a Santa Monica restaurant, said the pair had dined there a few times.

They made their reservations under the name of "Mr. Gasko" through an Internet reservation service, Andrew Turner said.

The couple, who lived two blocks away, kept to themselves and always sat at table 23 in the corner of the garden patio, lush with trees and plants, Turner told CNN.

In September 2009, Bulger and Greig allegedly ordered two Grey Goose vodka cocktails, two Chardonnays and foie gras as an appetizer. For an entree, Bulger ate a 10-ounce, 28-day aged New York strip streak, and Greig ate lobster, Turner said.

The bill: $192, plus tip, Turner said.

"They were pleasant but they kind of kept to themselves and certainly did not have, as far as I can tell, any interaction with any other guests," the manager added.

The fugitives' run from the law ended Wednesday.

A tipster called the FBI's Los Angeles office on Tuesday, and the information led authorities to the apartment, said Steven Martinez, FBI assistant director in charge in Los Angeles. He would not divulge the city from which the call came.

The end of the manhunt came within days of the FBI launching a publicity campaign, airing ads about Greig in 14 markets across the country where the couple was known to have ties, authorities said. The arrests were a "direct result" of the media campaign, authorities said.

But some law enforcement officials outside the FBI say that the media campaign explanation could be a cover for something else.

These non-FBI sources said it seems too easy that after so many years on the run and so much exposure, suddenly a public service announcement that doesn't even appear in Los Angeles leads to a tip. They hinted that maybe the explanation was a smokescreen to protect the real tipster from any harm.

Tom Fuentes, former FBI assistant director, told CNN's Anderson Cooper that the agency is capable of protecting the tipster no matter how the information came in and there is no reason for a ruse.

The version that Fuentes heard from investigators in the case and others is that "the person that called in the tip did not see the direct announcement but saw the media coverage that the FBI had done an announcement on one of the cable network channels, and they wouldn't tell me which one."

A law enforcement official with knowledge of the case verified that version of events. A "tipster was watching national coverage of the FBI campaign, went to, where they saw additional photos, then called the FBI with the tip," the official said.

The Boston FBI officially buttressed that assertion Friday.

"Any claim that the FBI knew Mr. Bulger's whereabouts prior to the FBI's publicity efforts this week are completely unfounded," FBI Special Agent Richard DesLauriers said in a statement. "When we learned his location, he was arrested promptly."

Carmen Ortiz, U.S. attorney for the District of Massachusetts, said she believes the death penalty is not an option in the federal charges Bulger faces in her district, but that she believes he could face the death penalty for two cases outside the district -- in Florida and Oklahoma.

Dick Lehr, who wrote a book about Bulger, described him as a cold-blooded killer whose gang went to lengths to avoid detection.

"When they killed someone -- this is pre-DNA -- they pulled the teeth out, cut the fingers off, tried to make it so the victims, if they were discovered from their graves, couldn't be identified. There's just no bottom. It doesn't get much uglier than someone like Whitey Bulger," Lehr told Cooper.

CNN's Deborah Feyerick, Sheila Steffen, Michael Martinez, Drew Griffin and Carey Bodenheimer contributed to this report.