BOSTON - Bringing an end to Boston's longest-running crime saga, a federal judge on Thursday sentenced former mob boss James "Whitey" Bulger to spend the rest of his life in prison, calling his crimes "almost unfathomable."
Bulger, 84, sat stoically as US District Judge Denise Casper recounted the crimes he was convicted of, including 11 murders, extortion and drug dealing while he ran Boston's brutal Winter Hill crime gang in the 1970s and '80s.
"The scope, the callousness, the depravity of your crimes are almost unfathomable," Casper said before imposing two consecutive life sentences plus five years.
Bulger terrorised the city for decades before fleeing in late 1994 on a tip that his arrest was imminent, and he spent 16 years on the lam. His life inspired Martin Scorsese's 2006 Academy Award-winning film "The Departed".
"The testimony of human suffering that you and your associates inflicted on others was at times agonizing to hear and painful to watch," Casper told Bulger in Boston's waterfront federal courthouse, located just blocks from where some of Bulger's killings took place.
"At times during the trial I wished that we were watching a movie, that what we were hearing was not real," she said.
Bulger stood silently, wearing an orange prison jumpsuit over a long-sleeved T-shirt, as his sentence was read. He had declined to participate in the two-day sentencing hearing, saying through attorneys that he viewed the proceeding as "a sham."
"It took a lot of discipline for him not to react emotionally to some of the things that were said, and he's proud he was able to conduct himself in that fashion," attorney J.W. Carney told reporters after the hearing.
Bulger's two-month trial was raw, broken by outbursts in which the accused and his former gangmates turned prosecution witnesses swore at each other. A jury in August found Bulger guilty of 31 of 32 criminal counts, including 11 of the 19 murders prosecutors had accused him of committing.