Attorney Who Sentenced Whitey Bulger to Speak Monday

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In Martin Scorcese’s 2006 mob epic The Departed, Jack Nicholson’s diabolical Frank Costello, based on the infamous South Boston gangster James “Whitey” Bulger, delivers what might be the movie’s most famous line.

“I don’t want to be a product of my environment,” he says. “I want my environment to be a product of me.”

Bulger, who, along with his girlfriend, Catherine Greig, was captured in Santa Monica, Calif., in 2011 after almost two decades as a fugitive, chased the same dream throughout the 1970s, ’80s, and ’90s. He fled Boston in 1995 after a federal racketeering indictment, and spent 12 of the years in between on the FBI’s 10 Most Wanted Fugitives list.


“Pre-law at BC is not like pre-med. Sometimes you just need somebody to let you know that you’re going in the right direction.”

-Erin Nunes, head of mentoring for the Bellarmine Society and MCAS ’16


On Monday, Feb. 15, Brian Kelly, the “mobster prosecutor” and a former U.S. Justice Department attorney, will speak in McElroy 237 at 5 p.m. Kelly served as the federal prosecutor on the 2013 case that convicted Bulger, then 84, on racketeering charges, firearms possession, and 11 killings, and sentenced him to over two life terms in prison.

The event will be hosted by Boston College’s Bellarmine Law Society, which focuses on providing resources for pre-law students by holding informational panels, discussions, and networking events.

After the high-profile Bulger case, Kelly moved to the prominent Boston firm Nixon Peabody, where he serves as a partner. At Nixon Peabody, Kelly works on trials dealing with health care fraud, insider trading, and other white collar crimes. The talk will focus on his experience on the Bulger case, as well as his expertise in government investigations.

“He’s definitely a success story, especially for people who don’t have law in their families,” Erin Nunes, head of mentoring for the Bellarmine Society and MCAS ’16, said. “Neither of his parents were lawyers and now he’s this successful lawyer.”

According to a 2013 article in The Boston Globe, Kelly first started working on the Bulger case in 1991. He and his colleagues had to fight the interests of the federal government, particularly the FBI, for which Bulger was a top-secret, protected informant for decades. After Bulger’s capture in 2011, Kelly immediately anticipated working on the trial.

“It was a pretty intense case from the very beginning, we had to get a number of witnesses, many of whom were afraid to testify against him and his gang, so it was certainly a very challenging case to put together, but ultimately, we had enough evidence to charge him in 1995,” Kelly said, talking about his work on the case and the charge that caused Bulger to skip town. While the gangster was in hiding, Kelly and his team prosecuted his co-conspirators and seized some of his assets. Then came the call that Bulger had been captured.

“I heard the news around two in the morning, and safe to say I couldn’t get back to sleep after that phone call, because I wanted to go into work a little early that day,” he said.

The Bellarmine Society, in addition to bringing in speakers, offers a mentoring program in which undergraduates can be paired with a student from BC Law School. The law students can help students interested in law school figure out what kinds of classes to take and navigate the law school application process.

“Pre-law at BC is not like pre-med,” Nunes said. “Sometimes you just need somebody to let you know that you’re going in the right direction.”

Featured Image Courtesy of BC Law

About Connor Murphy 122 Articles
Connor is the editor-in-chief of The Heights. He was the news editor for 2017, and the copy editor for 2016. You can follow him on Twitter @murphheights.