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Jury selection starts in Bulger trial

By CNN Staff
updated 3:13 PM EDT, Tue June 4, 2013
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • "Whitey" Bulger faces racketeering charges and 19 murder counts
  • He was arrested in 2011 after 16 years on the run
  • The reputed Boston mob boss had been an FBI informant for years

(CNN) -- Jury selection began Tuesday in the trial of reputed Boston mob boss and longtime fugitive James "Whitey" Bulger on murder and racketeering charges.

Bulger was arrested in California in 2011 after 16 years on the run. Now 83, he's charged in the killings of 19 people during his days as the leader of south Boston's Winter Hill gang.

Federal prosecutors say Bulger led the Irish mob from the late 1970s through the mid-1990s. But after Bulger fled impending racketeering charges, investigators found he had been an FBI informant whose handler tipped him off about the charges -- a tale that became the inspiration for the Oscar-winning 2006 drama "The Departed."

Judge removed from Whitey Bulger trial

Illustrations of Bulger and Greig were on display at a press conference in 2004. Illustrations of Bulger and Greig were on display at a press conference in 2004.
Whitey Bulger in hiding
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Whitey Bulger in hiding Whitey Bulger in hiding

His lawyers tried to get the case against him tossed out, arguing that Bulger had been given immunity by the FBI. A federal judge denied that request in March, finding Bulger had no immunity for crimes committed after he cut a deal with the feds.

Bulger's onetime FBI handler is serving a 50-year sentence for second-degree murder and racketeering.

Bulger's brother William -- a former state Senate leader -- was forced to step down as president of the University of Massachusetts after then-Gov. Mitt Romney accused him of being evasive during congressional testimony about the whereabouts of his brother.

Whitey Bulger's longtime girlfriend, Catherine Greig, went on the run with him and was arrested with him in Santa Monica. She pleaded guilty to conspiracy to harbor a fugitive and two counts of identity theft, in 2012.

Landmark U.S. manhunts

CNN's Ross Levitt contributed to this report.

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