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July 17, 2013

Gun runner to be called in Bulger trial

BOSTON — James “Whitey” Bulger’s lawyers have submitted a new, pared-down witness list for his racketeering trial.

On the list to testify is former Bulger ally Patrick Nee, one of the masterminds behind an operation to smuggle guns to the IRA aboard a Gloucester fishing vessel.

Bulger’s lawyers had submitted a list with the names of more than 80 potential witnesses. Their new list, filed early Tuesday, contains 37 names; they later said they would still remove some people from the list.

Joseph Salvati, a former North End man who was wrongly convicted of a 1965 gangland slaying in Chelsea based on testimony from corrupt FBI informant Joseph Barboza, was originally on the list but Bulger’s lawyers said they would not call him. Salvati and lawyers for three other men sued the FBI and won a $107 million civil judgment in 2007.

The prosecution is still presenting its witnesses — Bulger cohort Stephen “The Rifleman” Flemmi’s testimony is expected Thursday — but could wrap up by the end of this week. The defense could begin presenting its case early next week.

The 83-year-old Bulger is accused of playing a role in 19 killings in the 1970s and 80s, including that of John McIntyre, a mechanic on the Gloucester-based fishing vessel Valhalla, which Nee and his cohorts used to move 7 1/2 tons of weapons to the Irish Republic Army in September 1984.

The weapons were seized in Irish waters after being offloaded onto another ship. Bulger believed McIntyre was the informant who led officials to the arms shipment, and had his cohort Kevin Weeks and Nee lure him to an East Boston house in November 1984 where McIntyre was shot in the head before being buried in the basement. Weeks and Flemmi have both said Bulger fired the killing shot.

Nee pleaded guilty to four counts of violating federal firearms and export laws in the gun-running case. He had faced 22 years in prison and $156,000 in fines, which was reduced to four years.

Nee served 18 months in federal prison. When he was released in 1989, he severed ties with Bulger, saying he was disgusted by McIntyre’s murder.

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