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Convicted gangster James ‘Whitey’ Bulger seeking to keep Stanley Cup ring

James "Whitey" Bulger is pictured with former Boston Bruin Chris Nilan (left) and the Stanley Cup in this undated photo provided to the court as evidence by Bulger's defence team on July 31, 2013 and released to the media by the the U.S. Attorney's Office in Massachusetts.

REUTERS/U.S. Attorney's Office of Massachusetts/Handout

Even as he faced the prospect of spending the rest of his life behind bars, the infamous Boston mobster James "Whitey" Bulger was trying to keep a Stanley Cup ring that he says he got as a gift.

In a court document filed just before a jury found him guilty Monday for the murder of 11 people and numerous other criminal offences, Mr. Bulger agreed to forfeit to the U.S. government nearly a million dollars, guns, jewels and artwork – but kept the championship ring from the deal.

"The parties have agreed to exclude a Stanley Cup ring, which the defendant contends was a gift to him by a third-party," says the document co-signed by Mr. Bulger and the prosecution, which waived his right to have the jury determine which of his assets could be forfeited.

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The fate of the ring is to be decided by the courts, the document said.

The items – including $822,000 in cash, firearms and ammunition – were seized in an apartment in Santa Monica, California, where Mr. Bulger and his companion, Catherine Greig, were arrested in 2011 after 16 years on the run.

The court document does not say who gave the 83-year-old kingpin the ring.

In another court filing, made on July 31, Mr. Bulger's defence team had filed 20 pictures highlighting the accused's softer side, for example hugging a dog or shirtless on vacation.

One of the 20 pictures shows Mr. Bulger posing next to the Stanley Cup with Chris "Knuckles" Nilan, the Massachusetts-born hockey enforcer who played right-wing for the Canadiens in the 1980s and was a member of their 1986 championship team.

According to Boston media, Mr. Nilan was once married to Karen Stanley, daughter of Mr. Bulger's late girlfriend Teresa Stanley. Mr. Bulger paid for the couple's wedding, the Boston Globe reported.

Mr. Nilan, however, says he gave no ring to Mr. Bulger. The former hockey professional actually has two rings for the 1986 championship because he was given a second one after he offered the first to his father.

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After articles appeared this week linking him to Mr. Bulger's ring, Mr. Nilan called Montreal's The Gazette to say he still had his two rings in his possessions.

"I married Karen … I didn't marry [Bulger]," Mr. Nilan said.

He said he didn't know who paid for his wedding. "I just showed up."

Mr. Nilan declined to comment when contacted by The Globe and Mail.

Monday's verdict came after a two-month trial and five days of jury deliberations. In addition to finding that Mr. Bulger played a role in 11 killings, the jury convicted him of racketeering conspiracy, racketeering acts of murder, extortion, narcotics distribution, money laundering and possession of firearms.

The model for Jack Nicholson's crime boss in the 2006 Martin Scorsese movie The Departed, Mr. Bulger led a Boston gang, the Winter Hill Gang.

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Among other allegations, he was accused of strangling two women with his bare hands, shooting two men in the head after chaining them to chairs and interrogating them for hours, and opening fire on two men as they left a South Boston restaurant.

His sentencing hearing is scheduled for Nov. 13 and he could face a life sentence.

With files from The Associated Press

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About the Author
National reporter

Tu Thanh Ha is based in Toronto and writes frequently about judicial, political and security issues. He spent 12 years as a correspondent for the Globe and Mail in Montreal, reporting on Quebec politics, organized crime, terror suspects, space flights and native issues. More

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