A federal prosecutor said in opening statements today at James "Whitey" Bulger's racketeering trial that the reputed mobster was at the center of "murder and mayhem" in Boston for almost 30 years. The defense, meanwhile, acknowledged that Bulger had been a criminal but said he was nowhere near the criminal the government alleges. Prosecutor Brian Kelly told jurors that Bulger headed the violent Winter Hill Gang that "ran amok" in Boston for nearly three decades, killing 19 people, extorting millions from drug dealers and other criminals, and corrupting police and FBI agents. "At the center of all this murder and mayhem is one man—the defendant in this case, James Bulger." Kelly referred to him as a "hands-on killer."
Bulger's lead attorney, JW Carney Jr., went after the credibility of the prosecution's star witnesses, including hit man John Martorano, who admitted killing 20 people and has agreed to testify against Bulger. The government plans to show the jury a 700-page file they say shows that Bulger was also working as an FBI informant, providing information on the New England Mob—his gang's main rivals—and corrupting FBI agents who ignored his crimes. But the now 83-year-old was never an FBI informant, says Carney, according to CNN, because that's the "worst thing" a person of Irish descent could ever be. (Read more Whitey Bulger stories.)