Mob boss played slots in Vegas while on the run

WASHINGTON Mon Jun 27, 2011 6:24pm EDT

Images of accused Boston crime boss James ''Whitey'' Bulger, including some that are age enhanced, are seen in this June 23, 2011 screen grab taken from FBI's Most Wanted website. On the run for 17 years, Bulger and his longtime girlfriend were finally caught in California by the Federal Bureau of Investigation on Wednesday. REUTERS/FBI/Handout

Images of accused Boston crime boss James ''Whitey'' Bulger, including some that are age enhanced, are seen in this June 23, 2011 screen grab taken from FBI's Most Wanted website. On the run for 17 years, Bulger and his longtime girlfriend were finally caught in California by the Federal Bureau of Investigation on Wednesday.

Credit: Reuters/FBI/Handout

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WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A picture of what life was like for former mob boss James "Whitey" Bulger while he was on the run emerged on Monday: Las Vegas casinos, trips to Mexico and returning to his hometown of Boston heavily armed to take care of "unfinished business."

Bulger, 81, waived his legal rights when he was arrested in Santa Monica, California, last week and prosecutors said he told FBI agents some details about his travels while running from the law and 19 murder charges during the past 16 years.

"Bulger admitted traveling (in disguise) to Boston on several occasions while 'armed to the teeth' because he 'had to take care of some unfinished business,'" prosecutors said in a court filing about whether the government should pay for his lawyer.

Bulger did not elaborate on what that meant, the prosecutors said.

Bulger also told FBI agents he visited Las Vegas -- a city blanketed with security cameras -- many times and won more money than he lost at the slot machines. The filing said he also went to buy medicine in Tijuana, Mexico, where it is often easier to buy prescription drugs than in the United States.

The details emerged as prosecutors resisted a request by Bulger for the government to pay for his legal defense, a bill that could run into millions of dollars as he tries to beat murder, racketeering and drug trafficking charges.

They pointed to the more than $820,000 found in the Santa Monica rent-controlled apartment where he and his longtime girlfriend Catherine Greig had been living for years. Much of the cash was in packages containing $100 bills that were bundled together and hidden inside a wall in the apartment.

"He has every incentive to lie and stick the taxpayers with the bill for his defense," prosecutors said in the filing.

Defendants typically are barred from using money that may have been proceeds from illegal activities for their defense.

Prosecutors demanded that Bulger's brothers, including William "Billy" Bulger, a former president of the Massachusetts State Senate, provide sworn affidavits about his financial position.

However, in a filing on behalf of James Bulger, he said he does not want assistance from his family to pay for his defense.

The former mobster was arrested last week after the FBI received a tip that came as a result of the agency's renewed public advertising campaign to catch the fugitive and Greig.

A hearing on the appointment of a lawyer for Bulger is scheduled for Tuesday in Boston. A detention hearing for Greig is set for Thursday.

(Editing by Bill Trott)

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