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Prosecutor guns for Whitey Bulger with jailhouse tapes

U.S. Marshals Service via Reuters

Former mob boss and fugitive James "Whitey" Bulger.

Jailhouse tapes of James "Whitey" Bulger were played Tuesday for jurors, who heard the accused Boston mobster make a machine-gun sound as he chatted about the murder of an associate left riddled with bullets in a phone booth.

The gruesome 1975 death of Eddie Connors is one of 19 that Bulger allegedly was involved in. Convicted hitman John Martorano previously testified that Bulger was the triggerman in Connors' slaying.

Jurors have also seen a photo of the victim, an ex-boxer, sprawled in the booth with the receiver suspended over his bloodied body.

Armed with transcripts, the jury on Tuesday listened intently to a short recording of Bulger, 83, talking to his nephew and niece, the children of one of Massachusetts most powerful political figures, former State Senate president William Bulger.

The jailed Winter Hill Gang leader could be heard making the machine-gun sound-effect as he spoke of "the guy in the phone booth," the Boston Globe reported.

"Somebody threw my name in the mix," he said. His nephew replied, "As usual."

The recording followed testimony from Connors' daughter, who was 7 at the time. She emotionally recalled how she asked to tag along with her father when he went out that night and how she wasn't allowed to attend his funeral.

"I was too young," she said.

Jurors also heard another jailhouse tape in which Bulger laughed and joked as he recalled pointing a shotgun at three youths he thought might be about to rob a liquor store he owned.

“I put one in the chamber,” he said on the tape. “One went this way, the other went that way. ... They were lucky.”

Bulger was taped during the two years he spent in custody after being nabbed in June 2011 in Santa Monica, Calif., capping 16 years on the lam.

He's pleaded not guilty to a federal racketeering indictment that charges him with the 19 murders, loan-sharking, extortion and guns and drug charges.

Prosecutors say he was a crime kingpin and FBI informant who ruled South Boston with an iron first, a hot muzzle and the help of corrupt law-enforcement officials. The defense insists he was just a two-bit hustler who never ratted anyone out.

Prosecutors put on the stand a former drug dealer who said he ran a marijuana and cocaine operation for Bulger in the 1980s that grossed $100,000 a week at its height.

When the dealer, William Shea, tried to get out of the business, Bulger balked. Shea went to Florida anyway and when he returned, he said, the boss and two of his hitmen took him to the concrete basement of a deserted apartment complex.

"I'm thinking he took me down there to frighten me or whack me," Shea said, according to Reuters.

He testified that he reminded Bulger that he had gone to jail on a drug charge without becoming an informant and Bulger relaxed and let him go.

The testimony by Shea and other drug-dealers runs in opposition to Bulger's longtime image as the man who kept drugs out of the neighborhood known as Southie.

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