The ruthless Boston mobster has also got agents and cops 'holding their breath', wondering what he could say,' according to former second-in-command of Boston FBI office, Robert Fitzpatrick.
The 81-year-old was captured on Wednesday in Santa Monica, California, where he apparently had been living for most of the time he was a fugitive.
Friday's court appearance in Boston
He appeared on Friday afternoon inside a heavily guarded federal courthouse in Boston - wearing jeans and a white shirt under a white unbuttoned shirt - to answer charges he committed 19 murders. He was brought into court in handcuffs, which were then removed, and walked with a slight hunch.
Bulger had back-to-back hearings for two separate indictments. Attorney Peter Krupp was appointed to represent Bulger on Friday, but Bulger asked that a public defender be appointed.
The government objected, citing the $800,000 found in his flat and 'family resources', including money from immediate family members. 'We feel he has access to cash,' prosecutor Brian Kelly said.
In the second hearing, Magistrate Judge Marianne Bowler asked Bulger if he could pay for legal counsel. Bulger replied: 'I could, if you give me my money.' The government is seeking to seize Bulger's assets, which prosecutors said included the cash and 30 guns found in the apartment. They also asked that Bulger be held without bond.
Bulger waived his right to a detention hearing, but may ask for one later. His girlfriend Catherine Greig, arrested with him, was scheduled to appear in court on charges of harbouring a fugitive.
FBI corruption claims
Bulger, the former boss of the Winter Hill Gang, embroiled the FBI in scandal once before after he disappeared in 1995. It turned out that he had been an FBI informant for decades.
He fed the bureau information on the rival New England Mafia, and he fled after a retired Boston FBI agent tipped him off that he was about to be indicted.
The retired agent, John Connolly Jr., was sent to prison for protecting Bulger.
'Whitey was no fool. He knew he would get caught. I think he'll have more fun pulling all those skeletons out of the closet. I think he'll start talking and he'll start taking people down'
Edward J. MacKenzie Jr.
Former drug dealer and Bulger enforcer
The FBI depicted Connolly as a rogue agent, but Bulger associates described more widespread corruption and claimed the crime lord stuffed envelopes with cash for law enforcement officers. After a series of hearings in the late 1990s, U.S. District Judge Mark Wolf found that more than a dozen FBI agents had broken the law or violated FBI regulations.
Edward J. MacKenzie Jr., a former drug dealer and enforcer for Bulger, predicted that Bulger will disclose new details about FBI corruption and how agents protected him for so long.
'Whitey was no fool. He knew he would get caught. I think he'll have more fun pulling all those skeletons out of the closet,' he said. 'I think he'll start talking and he'll start taking people down.' But the Boston FBI has previously said that a new generation of agents has replaced most or all of the agents who worked in the office while Bulger was an informant.
Bulger vowed to go out in a blaze of gunfire if the FBI ever found him, hiding more than 30 guns around his tiny 800 sq ft apartment, including revolvers inside hollowed-out books on military history.
But the 81-year-old went out with a whimper after being tricked into leaving his Santa Monica, California, apartment by a bogus call telling him his storage locker had been broken into.
The FBI revealed on Friday that agents arranged for the call to lure him out and then arrested him as soon as he came out of his front door.
SOCIAL BUTTERFLIES: HOW THE FBI USED NETWORKING SITES IN BULGER HUNT
The FBI turned to social media like never before in its bid to catch the 16-year fugitive Bulger.
The campaign, which was launched on Monday included postings and adverts on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube. By Wednesday evening, Bulger surrendered in Santa Monica, California. And in a nod to the role online media had played, the FBI even announced the arrest on Twitter.
The agency began using social media in 2009, when it set up accounts on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube. Bulger's last act of defiance, according to the Los Angeles Times, was to refuse to lie down face first on the floor so he could be handcuffed.While he argued with agents outside the front of his home, Bulger's girlfriend, Catherine Greig, 60, was arrested and quietly led out the back into a waiting car.
Also hidden in the apartment was about $800,000 in cash, belying the modest lifestyle the couple led in the rent-controlled apartment three blocks from the Pacific Ocean.The details about the notorious mobster's arrest come as he returned to Boston today to face justice.
Bulger landed in his home town early this afternoon and was transferred with Greig under heavy guard to court. The audience at court was expected to include his brother William, once one of the most prominent politicians on the state, and many of his alleged victims' families.
Bulger faces two separate indictments - from 1995 and 1999 - which allege that he took part in long-term criminal activity which cost 19 people their lives. Greig, meanwhile, will appear on a charge that she harboured a fugitive.
The art theft
The court appearance comes as it has emerged Bulger may hold the key to finally solving the 21-year mystery over America’s biggest ever art heist.
Two men dressed as police officers broke into the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston in 1990 and stole a Vermeer, five Degas and three Rembrandts worth a combined $500million. Rumours have swirled for years that Bulger must have played a role as the boss of the city’s most powerful crime gang at the time but the case – tagged the ‘holy grail of art crime’ – remains unsolved to this day.
Underworld sources have now suggested the notorious gangster stashed away the paintings to use as bargaining chips if he was ever caught.
According to the Los Angeles Times, there was also speculation that he sent them to allies in the Irish Republican Army. There is no evidence that Bulger was involved in the robbery. But even if he wasn't behind it, experts insist his iron fist rule in Boston meant he would have known who was.
Robert Wittman, the former head of the FBI’s art squad who investigated the museum theft, told the Times: ‘I think there is a good chance he knows something.
‘If he was interested, he could have found out what was going on.’
The 'Geezer Bandit'
Detectives in California plan have reportedly also quizzed Bulger over claims that he may also be the infamous 'Geezer Bandit'. An elderly robber who looked remarkably similar to Bulger has never been caught despite carrying out as many as 17 bank raids over the past six years.
Police believe Bulger may have carried out the robberies in Orange County - where he is thought to have kept another secret hideaway apartment - to finance his life on the run.
Although Bulger, 81, is being sent back to Boston to face 19 murder charges, an Orange County police source said detectives would be asking the FBI for permission to question him over the unsolved robberies. The FBI admitted in 2006 that it was possible Bulger could be the 'Geezer Bandit' but there was never enough evidence to confirm the theory.
Thursday's court appearance in California
Bulger appeared in court yesterday as a balding man with a full white beard, wire-rimmed glasses and a pale face - but the notorious gangster was still smiling.
He was known to his neighbours as Charles Gasko - a frail old man, no longer strong enough even to accompany his wife 'Carol' on her morning stroll with their dog near his California home.
In fact, with hundreds of thousands of dollars and a hoard of weapons stashed inside his flat, the Boston gangster was America's most wanted man who had been on the run for 16 years. Bulger, who until last month was second only to Osama bin Laden on the FBI's 'Most Wanted' list for his alleged role in 19 murders, had been living all along in plain sight with Greig, 60, by a California beach.
To evade authorities, they moved from Boston to California, where they assumed the aliases Charles and Carol Gasko.
The notorious fugitive now faces a possible death penalty for his alleged crimes after the pair were arrested at their home in Santa Monica - following a tip from someone responding to an appeal for those who might recognise Greig from local beauty salons and plastic surgery clinics. Bulger, who had a $2million reward on his head, was arrested at his home on the top floor of The Princess Eugenia, a three-story building close to a hill with sweeping views of the Pacific Ocean.
There the pair lived as the Gaskos, an elderly married couple, with Greig thought to have had substantial plastic surgery and dental work to change her look over time.
Neighbours were told Bulger rarely left their apartment because he had mentally deteriorated.They were told he was battling Alzheimer's disease, as well as having heart problems and emphysema.
The FBI had been conducting a surveillance operation in the area where the arrest was made, Santa Monica Police Sergeant Rudy Flores said.
On Tuesday a TV ad been launched during programmes popular with women roughly Greig's age - pointing out that she had several plastic surgery procedures, got her teeth cleaned once a month, regularly went to beauty salons and loved dogs.
The adverts were aired during daytime shows, including The View, Live with Regis & Kelly and Ellen in order to target women who may have spotted Grieg in beauty salons.
Questions now abound over how Bulger managed to evade authorities for so long and by what means he managed to remain incognito while funding his lifestyle in Santa Monica.
With his last confirmed sighting in London in 2002, there are also questions over how he managed to travel internationally without apprehension.
Bulger was notorious for leading the violent Winter Hill Gang, a largely Irish mob that ran loan-sharking, gambling and drug rackets in the Boston area. He was nicknamed 'Whitey' for his shock of bright platinum hair and wanted for his alleged role in 19 murders, including the killings of businessmen in Florida and Oklahoma.
The mobster spent time in Alcatraz as a young man and was a top-echelon FBI informant. Over the years, the FBI battled a public perception that it had not tried very hard to find him.
He became a huge source of embarrassment for the agency after the extent of his crimes and the FBI's role in overlooking them became public. Prosecutors said he went on the run after being warned by John Connolly Jr, an FBI agent who had made Bulger an FBI informant 20 years earlier.
Connolly was convicted of racketeering in May 2002 for protecting Bulger and his cohort, Stephen ‘The Rifleman’ Flemmi, also an FBI informant. Bulger provided the Boston FBI with information on his gang's main rival, the New England Mob, in an era when it was desperately trying to bring down the Mafia.
But the Boston FBI office was sharply criticised when the extent of Bulger's alleged crimes and his cosy relationship with the FBI became public in the late 1990s. He has been the subject of several books and was an inspiration for the 2006 Martin Scorsese film ‘The Departed’.
Bulger grew up in a gritty South Boston housing project and went on to become Boston's most notorious gangster.
In an interview on 60 minutes two years ago, when asked how Bulger killed people, his henchman Kevin Weeks said: 'He stabbed people. He beat people with bats. He shot people. Strangled people. Run 'em over with cars.