BOSTON (CBS/AP) – Whitey Bulger‘s lawyer made a surprising claim on Wednesday after a court hearing over Bulger’s claim of legal immunity.
J.W. Carney told reporters that Bulger was never an informant for the FBI or any other government organization, and that his immunity claim comes from another unspecified reason.
“James Bulger was never an informant to the FBI or anybody else at any time. And it is not the reason he received immunity,” Carney told reporters.
When asked to clarify, Carney refused.
“What are you doing June 10th? If you’re here, you’ll find out,” he said.
June 10 is the date set for the trial.
Carney faced off against prosecutors in court Wednesday as he argued that a jury should decide on his client’s immunity claim.
The contradiction makes sense to Boston Globe reporter Shelley Murphy who just co-wrote a book about Bulger.“We need to let the jurors decide if the government gave him immunity, and if so, what the scope of the immunity was,” Carney said.
“I think it goes back to the fact that in the Irish consciousness, there is nothing worse than being a rat,” said Murphy. “So he is determined to show that he is not a rat.”
A federal prosecutor said that any immunity agreement Bulger claims he had with the government would be “void as a matter of law” if it included murder, and that it should be up to the judge to decide whether the jury should be allowed the hear the claim.
The former Winter Hill Gang leader is accused of participating in 19 murders.
Contrary to what Carney said on Wednesday, it has been widely reported that Bulger claimed a federal prosecutor gave him immunity for crimes while he was providing the FBI information on local leaders of his gang’s main rivals, the Mafia.
Federal prosecutors asked a judge to decide the issue before trial.
The judge didn’t indicate when he would rule.
WBZ-TV’s Jim Armstrong contributed to this report.