Whitey Bulger pleaded not guilty to all charges in a 32-count indictment during his arraignment in South Boston on Wednesday.
Families of alleged victims looked on as Bulger denied guilt in the slayings of their loved ones as a part of the RICO enterprise.
“The ball is starting to roll,” said Thomas Donahue, son of Bulger victim Michael Donahue.
Donahue expressed optimism that the case is underway, but remained solemn overall. Family members of victims Debra Davis and Michael Milano joined the Donahues at the arraignment.
The Milano family were the subjects of a second hearing simultaneous to Bulger’s arraignment, but in a different courtroom. The family asked the court for a piece of the $800,000 in cash found in Bulger’s apartment.
The court ruled that the Milanos must wait until the criminal case is over to get money.
Former State Police Colonel Tom Foley also attended the trial. Foley investigated the Bulger case for years.
“All of us feel a lot of satisfaction that we can finally bring him to justice after all these years,” Foley said to the press outside the courthouse.
Foley also said that FBI informants should be chosen “from the bottom up.”
“It’s not the way to handle informants…with top echelon informants, you don’t have murderers out on the street giving out people down below,” he said. “That’s the way an investigation should be conducted, not authorizing people or giving people in that position at the top the green light to go out and do whatever they have to do, and that’s what happened in this case.”
Bulger’s lawyer, J.W. Carney Jr. said that he has no idea how long the trial will take, but indicated that it may move slowly due to the sheer volume of the case.
Carney also said that he will receive help from Janice Bassil and the 13 other lawyers in his firm.
“[Bassil] will be fully my co-counsel on the trial,” Carney said, despite a ruling that Bassil would not be officially appointed to the case.
Bulger’s next appearance in court is scheduled for September 14 for a status conference.
Although this is a slow start, it is a relief for many people.
“Seeing him walk in handcuffs, a broken man, was some sort of satisfaction for me,” Foley said.
Reporting from the John Joseph Moakley United States Courthouse in South Boston.
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