James “Whitey” Bulger named a former Massachusetts U.S. Attorney late Wednesday as the federal official who he says gave him immunity to commit crimes while he was an FBI informant.
Lawyers for Bulger, after withholding the name for months, alleged that Jeremiah O’Sullivan offered him immunity in the 1970s while he funneled information to the FBI about mob activity in Boston, according to a report in the Boston Globe. O’Sullivan died in 2009. Bulger, 83, was arrested in June 2011 after 16 years on the run, and he is now facing charges in connection with participating in 19 murders.
The motion, filed by defense attorney J.W. Carney, also demands that U.S. District Judge Richard Stearns recuse himself from the case because his time working in the Boston U.S. Attorney’s office, at the same time as O’Sullivan, serves as a conflict of interest.
Federal prosecutors have maintained that no one in the Boston U.S. Attorney’s office gave Bulger immunity at any time. However, Bulger’s “reign of terror,” as the Boston Globe puts it, was a major scandal for the FBI at the time, prompting congressional hearings on the matter.
In 2002, O’Sullivan told a congressional committee that he was aware of an unprofessional relationship with some gang informants, including Bulger, and FBI agents, but he did not intervene for fear of retaliation.
“‘It would have precipitated World War III if I had tried to do anything about F.B.I. informants,” O’Sullivan said, according to a report in the New York Times. He was the head of the New England Organized Crime Strike Force and the U.S. Attorney for Massachusetts in the 1970s and 80s.