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James 'Whitey' Bulger pleads not guilty on 19 murder counts

Famed Boston mob boss James 'Whitey' Bulger, 81, was captured in Santa Monica June 22, 2011.

July 6, 2011 12:00:00 AM PDT
James "Whitey" Bulger pleaded not guilty Wednesday to a racketeering indictment that accuses the reputed former crime boss of participating in 19 murders, some dating back to the 1970s.

Bulger walked into the courtroom in shackles, and nodded to his brothers, William and John, who were seated in the front row.

The 81-year-old alleged mob boss spent 16 years on the run before being arrested last month in Santa Monica. Prosecutors say Bulger, the reputed former leader of the Winter Hill Gang, was involved in the string of murders meant to eliminate gang rivals and silence potential witnesses.

An FBI informant said he escaped arrest after an agent tipped him off about a separate indictment, which has since been dismissed.

Wednesday's court appearance was the first time Bulger has responded to the federal murder charges.

The Associated Press contributed to this story