BOSTON (AP) — James “Whitey” Bulger and his once-loyal criminal apprentice had an angry, profanity-laced exchange in court Tuesday during Bulger’s racketeering trial after the former aide called Bulger and his partner “the two biggest rats.”
Tensions exploded as Kevin Weeks was questioned by Bulger’s lawyer about a plea deal with prosecutors that resulted in Weeks serving five years in prison after pleading guilty to aiding and abetting Bulger in five murders.
Weeks bristled at attorney J.W. Carney Jr.’s suggestion that he had beaten the system and that he wasn’t bothered by his participation in five killings.
“How does it bother you?” Carney asked.
“Because we killed people that were rats, and I had the two biggest rats right next to me,” Weeks snapped.
“You suck,” Bulger said from his seat at the defense table.
“F— you, OK!” Weeks replied.
“F— you, too,” Bulger said.
“What do you want to do?” Weeks challenged Bulger.
Judge Denise Casper moved to restore order.
“Hey!” Casper said. “Mr. Bulger, let your attorneys speak for you. Mr. Weeks, here’s how this works: You answer the questions, OK?”
Weeks was referring to the prosecution’s claim that Bulger and his longtime cohort, Stephen “The Rifleman” Flemmi, were FBI informants on the rival New England Mafia while they were both committing a litany of crimes.
Weeks, 57, said he decided to cooperate with prosecutors and testify after learning that Bulger and Flemmi were informants.
The outburst came on the second day of Weeks’ testimony against Bulger. Earlier Tuesday, he offered gruesome details about three murders he said he saw Bulger commit.
Bulger, 83, is accused of playing a role in 19 killings during the 1970s and ’80s while he allegedly led the Winter Hill Gang.
Bulger has pleaded not guilty and insists he was never an FBI informant. During the trial, his lawyers have focused much of their energy on rebutting the informant claim.
Weeks, who started working for Bulger as an enforcer in the late 1970s, said Bulger was a mentor, friend and “like an older brother to me.”
“He treated me great,” he said.
Weeks said he helped Bulger even after Bulger fled Boston in 1994 when he learned he was about to be indicted.
That changed, Weeks said, when he learned that Bulger and Flemmi had been FBI informants for years. He said that went against the South Boston culture to never rat on your friends or your enemies.
Carney asked Weeks if he was concerned that he’d be seen as a rat after he made his deal with prosecutors to testify against Bulger and Flemmi.
“You can’t rat on a rat,” Weeks said.