For Bulger Brothers, A Reunion Of Sorts

By Jess Bidgood

June 24, 2011

William Bulger is surrounded by reporters as he leaves Boston's Moakley Courthouse shortly after watching the first local court appearance of his brother, James "Whitey' Bulger. (Luke Boelitz for WGBH)

BOSTON — William Bulger, the former president of the Massachusetts Senate and the former head of the University of Massachusetts, sat in the second row of the Boston courtroom where his brother, James "Whitey" Bulger, faced a judge on Friday.

William sat with his two sons. When Whitey entered the courtroom, he mouthed "hi" to his brother, who smiled back.

Whitey Bulger was indicted on 48 counts, including murder, conspiracy and racketeering, over two hearings. When prosecutors asked, William pledged to help his brother with his legal expenses.

The two exchanged smiles again as Whitey exited the courtroom in handcuffs.

When William left the courthouse, he was greeted with a massive reporters' scrum. "It's an unusual experience," he said.

William spent much of Thursday out of the public eye, issuing a simple statement late in the day.

"I wish to express my sympathy to all the families hurt by the calamitous circumstances of this case. As the judicial process takes its course, I shall make no further comment at this time. Along with everyone else involved, I look forward to a resolution of this matter," William said, concluding, "I do hope, in the meantime, that my family may be accorded a measure of privacy."  

The Bulgers grew up in a working-class family in South Boston. Whitey would become Boston's most notorious crime boss before fleeing the city in December 1994.

William Bulger served as the president of the Massachusetts state Senate for a record 17 years before serving as the president of the University of Massachusetts. In 2003, then-Gov. Mitt Romney grew angry at what he saw as William's refusal to cooperate with authorities on the question of his brother's location and called for his ouster.

Material from the Associated Press was used in this report.  

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