Notorious former Boston mob boss James "Whitey" Bulger appeared in court Wednesday, listening to opening arguments in his trial for allegedly ordering or committing 19 murders in the 1970s and '80s.
Bulger's attorney opened by denying that his client ever worked with the FBI as an informant against Italian mob rivals – a key part of the popular narrative about Bulger's life of crime, which inspired the popular 2006 film "The Departed."
Many trial-watchers anticipate fantastic claims of FBI corruption during the trial about Bulger's reign as boss of Boston's Winter Hill Gang.
"Number one, James Bulger is of Irish descent," Bulger's defense attorney J.W. Carney said in court, the Boston Herald reports. "And the worst thing an Irish person could consider doing is becoming an informant."
Carney said former FBI agent John Connolly fabricated details in his FBI informant file.
"Ask yourself, would an informant be paying tens of thousands of dollars to the agent, or would it be the other way around?" Carney said, alleging that Bulger was paying the FBI agent for information, not the other way around, the Boston Globe reports.
"He wanted to pay for information and received it from corrupt law enforcement officers," Carney said. "The reason Connolly created the file was just a cover-up for why he was being seen with Bulger so often."
Bulger spent 16 years on the run – and 12 years on the FBI's "Ten Most Wanted" list – before his June 2011 arrest in Santa Monica, Calif. Authorities say they found $822,000 and 30 guns inside the apartment that Bulger shared with his long-time girlfriend Catherine Greig.
Greig pleaded guilty last year to conspiring to harbor a fugitive and identity theft charges, and is serving an eight-year sentence.
Connolly, the former FBI agent, was convicted in 2002 of racketeering and obstruction of justice charges for, among other things, tipping Bulger off about his impending arrest. A Florida jury also convicted Connolly of second-degree murder in 2009 for providing Bulger with information that led to the 1982 murder of a possible witness.
Connolly is now serving a 40-year sentence for the murder conviction, but maintains his innocence. "The Justice Department is going to do everything within its power to try to make sure the full story never comes out," he told The Daily Beast last year in an interview.
Other former Bulger associates have hinted for years that the FBI would be humiliated by disclosures if the Bulger was put on trial.
Kevin Weeks, described in some media reports as Bulger's former right-hand man, told "60 Minutes" in 2006 that Bulger bragged about bribing six FBI agents and 20 Boston police officers.
"He stabbed people, he beat people with bats, he shot people, strangled people, run them over with car," Weeks said. "After he would kill somebody, he'd – it was like a stress relief, you know? He'd be nice and calm for a couple of weeks afterwards, like he just got rid of all his stress."
Edward MacKenzie, a retired drug dealer and enforcer for Bulger, told CBS News in 2011 he thought his ex-boss would "start talking and he'll start taking people down."
"Whitey was no fool," Mackenzie said. "He knew he would get caught. I think he'll have more fun pulling all those skeletons out of the closet."
After Bulger's arrest, retired Massachusetts State Police Major Tom Duffy similarly predicted a day of reckoning for crooked cops. "If he starts to talk, there will be some unwelcome accountability on the part of a lot of people inside law enforcement," Duffy told The Associated Press.